STARKVILLE – Dan Mullen held his weekly teleconference with the media Sunday afternoon following Mississippi State’s 51-7 win over Alcorn State.
Up next for the Bulldogs will be their first conference test on the Plains against Auburn Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.
“Rock and roll, I’m ready to start SEC week this week,” Mullen said. “There’s nothing more exciting than SEC football. Our opening game will be played on the road against obviously a tough Auburn team so we’re excited to go play.”
Mullen did not have the latest injury update during the noon teleconference but expected senior quarterback Tyler Russell to practice this week. He stated that if Russell was healthy enough to go then he would be playing quarterback and if not, sophomore Dak Prescott would remain the starter.
“I won’t know Tyler’s situation,” Mullen said. “He might not be cleared early in the week. We want to be very cautious with head injuries and are very protective of our players. We want to make sure they are cleared and ready to go before we put them in that situation. I expect him to be ready to go for the game but I don’t know what day this week he’ll be ready to practice though.”
Russell did not dress during Saturday’s game while Prescott went 12-of-19 passing with 174 yards and three total touchdowns in his first career start, playing in only the first half.
“I thought he handled the offense pretty well,” Mullen said. “He missed one or two reads and there were about two to three checks that he could have made. But overall his performance was graded as a champion.”
Senior running back LaDarius Perkins also did not dress during Saturday’s game due to a sprained ankle. Mullen expects Perkins, who is a former Auburn commitment, to be available against the Tigers this week.
Seven new starters were in the lineup against Alcorn State but Mullen expects all players who missed Saturday’s game to be available for the SEC opener with the exception of guard Justin Malone, safety Jay Hughes and tight end Gus Walley – all of whom have season ending injuries.
Redshirt freshman wide receiver Fred Brown will also be cleared to play after being ejected from the Alcorn State game following a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Brown was flagged after making his first career catch (an 11-yard reception) and spiking the football in the third quarter. He was ejected on the next drive in the fourth quarter ending his debut with two catches for 27 yards.
Mullen says that the team will handle Brown’s punishment internally.
The fifth-year coach of the Bulldogs is pleased with the job true freshman De’Runnya Wilson has done so far. In his first two games, Wilson has hauled in four passes for 48 yards.
The former Mr. Basketball in Alabama only played one season of high school football.
“He’s a young guy who has the ability to make plays,” Mullen said. “We’ve just got to get him to be a consistent football player. He hasn’t played a whole lot of football really either. That’s a critical deal for us is getting him caught up to speed with the speed and consistency we need him to play at week in and week out.”
Fellow true freshman wide receiver Fred Ross led MSU with three catches for 46 yards in Saturday’s game and is another young playmaker Mullen is counting on.
“Fred’s played a little bit more football and is more of a polished player coming out of high school,” Mullen said. “Unfortunately, he missed most of training camp with injuries so that’s what kind of slowed him down a little bit. But I thought he’s done a good job and took a big step forward last game.”
One area of offense where the Bulldogs still have room for improvement is on third down. State was just 2-of-16 in week one and were 5-of-13 on Saturday.
“We are going to study that this week,” Mullen said. “We’re going to look at our plan and exactly what we’re doing. That is probably the most disappointing part of our game right now is on third down. We’re going to really look into that and really make sure we can improve that area.”
The Bulldogs are 5-of-10 on fourth down conversions.