Meridian Star

October 6, 2013

Russell, Prescott to share snaps going forward

Sarah Moomaw
The Meridian Star

STARKVILLE — Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell finally played in his second game of the 2013 season - Saturday night's 59-26 loss to LSU - but did not get the start.

    The former Meridian Wildcat had been held out of game action since Week 1 when he sustained a concussion in the third quarter against Oklahoma State. Since then, Dak Prescott has filled in with success creating a quarterback controversy.

    MSU head coach Dan Mullen said he stuck to his plan of alternating quarterbacks throughout the game and was pleased with the experiment.

    "They did a good job," he said. "It's good feeling, it's good to have two starting quarterbacks. I think we have two starting quarterbacks, guys that can do some good things for us … as the week went on in practice, that became the plan. We always have a plan."

    It's a style of play that Mullen has used previously and plans to continue to throughout the season like he did in 2006 at University of Florida with Tim Tebow and Chris Leak.

    "I've done it a lot of difference places and a lot of different ways to do things," Mullen said. "We'll see how it goes in practice this week."

    Russell played most of the second quarter and final minutes of the fourth to cap his return completing seven-of-11 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Prescott saw more playing time but finished with lower  passing numbers, nine-for-20 for 106 yards and one interception. He excelled on the ground though carrying the ball 12 times for 103 yards and a touchdown.

    As for the two quarterback system, the players are on board and are determined to make it work.

    "Just having confidence in each other and supporting the other guy when he is in there and backing him up every play and letting him know what you say when he gets off the field," Prescott said. 

    Mid week, Russell was reported to get the start but the game's depth chart listed Prescott instead. During pregame warm ups it was further unclear who Mullen had chosen as each took snaps with first and second teams. Adding to the confusion, the video board skipped the quarterback slot while running through the starting 11. The suspense lingered as MSU won the coin toss and deferred to the second half.

    After LSU scored on the first drive of the game, the Bulldogs took the field and Prescott was greeted with loud cheers as he was announced the starter.

    Prescott led the offense to match the touchdown with 28-yard rushing score but the two-point conversion failed preventing a tie game, 7-6.

    "The plan was to play both of them," Mullen said. "Play Dak the first series, Tyler the second series. We went right down, Dak only played three plays and we scored so we went Dak again to get a couple more plays under his belt."

    LSU quickly lengthened the lead on 69-yard rush by Jeremy Hill to go up 14-6. Prescott marched his team down the field on a combinations of rushes and passes to set up for a field goal, 14-9.

    But LSU's offense quickly retaliated and were past midfield to start the second quarter. A 34-yard run by Kenny Hilliard had the Bulldogs in the hole 21-9 by the time Russell took the field on the Bulldogs first drive of the quarter.

    First impressions are ones to make, but on Russell's first snap he was sack for a 5-yard loss. He recovered the yardage himself two plays later before throwing to Jameon Lewis in the end zone. The 20-yard pass closed the gap to five points, 21-16.

    "Then went Tyler, and he did a nice job too," Mullen said. "I think the important of that was getting them both in flow of the game, you know Tyler hasn't played a lot so we want to get him in the flow of the game. Dak has been playing well and gotta keep him in the flow of the game."

    Prescott took the field for the next MSU drive but two incomplete passes on the LSU 36-yard line turned the ball over on downs.

    The quarterback alternating continued and Russell went under center after LSU was forced to punt.

    It only took two plays – both in the air – for Russell to put the Bulldogs on the board. He found Da'Runnya Wilson for a 59-yard pass to take the lead 23-21. The touchdown moved Russell into sole possession of MSU's all-time passing touchdowns record at 39 for his career and was Wilson's first collegiate touchdown reception.

    LSU retook the lead before halftime, 28-23 and held the Bulldogs to only three second half points to their 31.

    "I have to give LSU some credit, they made a lot of big plays out there, they've got a lot of talented players and it showed at times," Mullen said.