Mississippi State (@HailStateFB)
Dan Mullen is no Jim Harbaugh. At least his philosophy regarding quarterbacks is dissimilar. After a 62 to 7 victory over the Trojans of Troy, he stated in his presser that Tyler Russell will be the starting quarterback in the next game against the LSU Tigers on October 5th in Davis Wade Stadium not Dak Prescott. Not Dak Prescott who was responsible for 286 yards of total offense and 3 touchdowns in three quarters. Coach Mullen relayed that Russell was cleared to play this week, however he wasn’t cleared until Wednesday and had not taken any first team reps. Prescott got the start due to the fact that he was more familiar with the game plan for the week. It was the perfect situation to let Russell get some extra rest going into a bye week and allow him to gain some valuable mental reps. But it might just spark a fire.
Coach Mullen said all the right things about Troy and after last year’s close call, and apparently learned his lesson. This was a must win game, and it showed. I think the word I would use here is overkill. After the heartbreaking loss last week to the Auburn Tigers, people were calling for Mullen’s head on a pike. If the Bulldogs had lost this week, we may have just seen that happen in the fields surrounding the campus of Starkville. Fortunately for the State faithful, Mullen’s team, lead by a backup sophomore quarterback, destroyed their opponent at home with cowbells hammering away in the background. Football is no joke in Starkville, this little town is crazy for their sports, despite their continued lack of success. This game was the 25th consecutive sellout at Scott Field, a testament to the desire in Starkville to have a successful program.
With the pressure of two losses this season and a small program struggling to compete in the SEC, Dan Mullen has handled adversity with class and experience. There will undoubtedly be detractors to his decisions, but since he has taken the reigns in Starkville, there have been a greater number of good decisions than bad. Since 2009, Mullen has gone 29-22 and won 2 out of three bowl games. Previously, State was lucky to even make a bowl. Not since the days of Jackie Sherrill had that happened with any amount of certainty. So, the decision to allow Russell to keep his starting job in the wake of Prescott’s success shouldn’t bother the State fans too much, unless Russell falls flat on his face, which unfortunately is more likely to happen in his next game than not. He will not be playing the Trojans of Troy next. He will have to face the 6th ranked team in the country and one of the best programs in college football, the LSU Tigers. What’s worse is that the Starkville faithful will get to witness this game first hand in the confines of their own stadium. If Russell and Mullen can make it through that game without their houses being burned to the ground, the schedule gets easier with Bowling Green then Kentucky, but the next game in Starkville might be a barnburner in more ways than one.