After each win, Logan Lowery of the Daily Journal recognizes several players and a coach that had outstanding performances and played a major role in Mississippi State’s victory. Check out who his offensive, defensive, special teams and coach of the week were.
Running back Josh Robinson
Junior * 5-9 * 215 * Franklinton, La.
Rushing: 14 carries for 87 yards Receiving: three catches for 49 yards
Logan’s take: Dak Prescott accounted for four touchdowns Saturday but I left the stadium impressed with the physical running style of Josh Robinson. I’ve seen flashes of it in the past when he’s been splitting time in the backfield but he seemed to be running with a purpose now that he’s the starter. Robinson didn’t shy away from contact and almost seemed to be in search of it in the open field. I also liked his display of soft hands out of the backfield and then quickly cutting up field.
Defensive end Preston Smith
Senior * 6-6 * 270 * Stone Mountain, Ga.
Defense: two assisted tackles, one interception, one pass breakup, one quarterback hurry Special teams: one blocked field goal
Logan’s take: Preston Smith played the best game of his career in the Liberty Bowl. On Saturday against Southern Miss, he topped it. Smith lived in the Golden Eagles backfield and terrorized quarterback Nick Mullens. He sacked him once but it was waived off for a facemask penalty. No player dominated on defense like Smith did which was a good sign since Mississippi State is seeking to improve its pass rush. His blocked field goal prevented USM’s only scoring chance and created a 68-yard touchdown for Jay Hughes.
Safety Jay Hughes
Senior * 5-11* 195 * Hattiesburg, Miss.
Defense: one interception Special teams: returned blocked field goal 68-yards for a touchdown.
Logan’s take: It was special to see Jay Hughes racing into the open field for a 68-yard touchdown in the third quarter following Preston Smith’s blocked field goal. Hughes was lost for the 2013 season after rupturing his Achilles on the sixth play and made his return against his hometown school Saturday night. Not only did Hughes score his first collegiate touchdown, but he also picked off Nick Mullens in the end zone for his first career interception as well.
Linebacker Dezmond Harris
Redshirt freshman * 6-4 * 235 * McCalla, Ala.
Defense: four tackles (two solo, two assists)
Logan’s take: It was equally satisfying to see Harris have success in his collegiate debut. He has not played in a live game since 2011 after tearing his ACL prior to his senior season at McAdory High School and redshirted his initial year at MSU. Harris, like Benardrick McKinney, is a former prep quarterback who has turned into a beast of a linebacker. He had a heck of a spring and I’m expecting him to be a star before his career is complete.
Defensive coordinator/ linebackers
Logan’s take: State had to open up its checkbook to keep Geoff Collins around during the offseason and he proved he was worth every penny in the opener. The Bulldogs notched their first shutout since 1999 and gave up just 71 yards rushing to USM. Collins coaches with a passion that few, if any, can replicate and you can tell his players genuinely enjoy playing for him. He’s much more than the artist behind the can of swag or the guy yelling about juice points. Collins has brought stability to a coaching position that has been an revolving door for the Bulldogs for nearly a decade.