The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Dogs ready for home opener

Although the Mississippi State University Bulldogs started their first season under Dan Mullen with a loss, the Bulldogs will now try to avoid a 0-2 start — something MSU has not done since 2006. In fact, MSU has only started 0-2 three times in the last 30 years, and with the Alcorn State Braves coming to Davis Wade Stadium Saturday, MSU should avoid making it a fourth time.

MSU suffered multiple injuries and setbacks in last weekend’s 21-3 loss to Oklahoma State, but coaches feel confident in younger players filling the vacant positions.

Sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott is the biggest replacement this week as he steps in for an injured Tyler Russell. Prescott, who entered last week’s game after Russell suffered a concussion in the third quarter, threw for 89 yards in 17 passing attempts while gaining 18 yards rushing.

Head coach Dan Mullen said once Russell left the game, he knew Prescott’s presence on the field would not hinder the team for the rest of the game.

“I don’t think there was a panic in any of the coaches or players on the field saying, ‘What are we going to do now?’” Mullen said. “That, to me, just shows a lot of who Dak is and how he has prepared himself and how he has performed in training camp. He has a lot of trust in his teammates.”

Defensively, MSU safety Jay Hughes suffered a torn achilles and will undergo season-ending surgery.

Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins said defensive secondary players like Dee Arrington, Kendrick Market and Taveze Calhoun had to step in quickly but picked up the schemes last weekend.

“They played really well,” he said. “A couple of times they had to do some of the adjustments to get things fixed, but they played well. The future is bright for some of those young guys.”           

Calhoun started at cornerback and recorded six tackles in last weekend’s game. He also displayed flashes of skill on special teams as he returned a blocked field goal just short of the end zone before halftime against OSU.

Collins said Alcorn will present a physical game, but his team is ready to get the first win of the season.

“(Alcorn) has some big offensive linemen that are pretty powerful,” Collins said. “Any time you get to line up in our stadium and play, you have to be excited. The guys have a bad taste in their mouths they want to get out.”

Linebacker Matt Wells said he thought the defense played well by holding a high-powered offense to 21 points, but Wells said there is still plenty of room for improvement.

“I think we played with relentless effort. We ran to the ball. We had more missed tackles than we wanted, but we can fix that at practice,” he said. “We have to fit against the runs correctly.”

MSU will face an Alcorn State team that is fresh off a 63-12 win over Edward Waters. The Braves totaled 464 yards in the win, and Mullen said despite being a lower-tier opponent, an in-state game always poses a threat to the Dogs.

“They have the guts and confidence and played some really good defense (last week),” he said. “They always are going to have great athletes. We played them here a couple of years ago, and they battled us in a real tough deal with a lot of great athletes on the field and made a bunch of plays.”

Sophomore quarterback John Gibbs, who threw for 184 yards and rushed for 59, leads the Braves’ offense. Running back Arnold Walker rushed for 75 yards and scored a career-high three rushing touchdowns in last week’s win. MSU will kick off against ASU at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and will be televised regionally on CSS.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Dogs ready for home opener