For Bulldog coach Dan Mullen the game came down to which team took advantage of the opportunities it was given.
“We each had the same amount of missed tackles but they had twice the amount of yards afterwards,” Mullen said. “They had more negative plays than we had but they had more explosive plays that we had. It’s little things like that. There were a lot of big plays made in that game both positive and negative on Saturday.”
Mullen received solid contributions from a pair of true freshmen in the game. Wide receiver De’Runnya Wilson caught two passes for 80 yards including a 59-yard touchdown while defensive tackle Chris Jones made four solo tackles, two for loss including his first career sack.
“It was good to see those guys start to grow,” Mullen said. “De’Runnya is starting to get better and starting to learn the game. Chris is obviously a guy with a lot of athletic potential and a very talented athlete. But you can still he’s still learning the fundamentals of how to be a good every down football player.”
Another true freshman who is off to a solid start to their career is running back Ashton Shumpert. In the three games in which he has carries, the former Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year has 128 yards on 29 attempts and two touchdowns and a 14 yard reception.
“He’s our third leading rusher and has the second most carries,” Mullen said. “As a true freshman coming in, he’s done a good job. He’s obviously been accelerated playing as a freshman. He’s getting the ball in his hands and learning how to be a back with pass protections, blocking and carrying out fakes.”
Saturday’s contest also marked the return of senior quarterback Tyler Russell, who had missed three games due to a concussion. Russell came off the bench completing 7 of 11 passing for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Both scores came on his initial two drives.
The first touchdown, a 20-yard strike to Jameon Lewis, was after check Russell made at the line of scrimmage.
“The touchdown pass was a great play,” Mullen said. “He changed the play at the line of scrimmage. He changed the protection and the route. He just saw a certain pressure coming and wanted to change the play to something different. That just shows his experience.”
Four Bulldogs had to be helped off the field in the second half due to injury. However, cornerback Jamerson Love, left tackle Blaine Clausell, right guard Ben Beckwith and defensive end Preston Smith are all expected back for this week’s contest against Bowling Green.
“We expect everybody to play,” Mullen said. “We’ll see as the week goes on. There will be a lot of guys who are limited at practice during the week but nobody new has been ruled out for the game on Saturday.”