Over the past three games, all losses for Mississippi State, quarterback Tyler Russell has thrown just two touchdown passes. His backup, redshirt freshman Dak Prescott, has also thrown for two TDs during that span.
During MSU’s 7-0 start, Russell had 15 touchdown passes, an average of just over two per game. So what’s slowed him down? Really good defenses, for starters. Alabama is currently ninth in the country in pass efficiency defense, while Texas A&M is 41st and LSU is fourth. Russell was intercepted once by each of those teams (he has thrown four all year).
Russell also has had to play catch-up these last three games. MSU fell behind 21-0 by early in the second quarter against Alabama and Texas A&M, and LSU took a 20-10 halftime lead. State passed the ball more than it ran in each of the three games, something it hadn’t done in the first seven games.
Russell struggled against Bama and A&M, completing 34 of 60 passes for 381 yards. Then he had a career-high 295 yards against LSU on 26-of-38 passing. But he had a costly interception against the Tigers, just as he did in the two previous games. With MSU trailing 30-17 and trying to score late, Russell was picked off by Craig Loston, who took it 100 yards for the score.
Against Alabama, Russell took MSU 97 yards in perhaps the most impressive drive of his career – but then was intercepted in the end zone by Robert Lester. The Texas A&M game was pretty well decided when Russell was picked off by Dustin Harris – the Aggies led 31-7 in the third quarter. Russell had completed passes of 23 and 28 yards on the drive.
Both of Russell’s TD passes during the three-games stretch went to Chad Bumphis, and both covered 14 yards.