Countdown to Kickoff: 22 Days

We’re counting down to MSU’s season opener against Oklahoma State on Aug. 31, giving you a significant number to ponder as August trudges on. Today’s number is…



MSU has experienced ups and downs with its special teams under Dan Mullen, and one area of struggle has been punt returns. Last season, the Bulldogs ranked 12th in the SEC in punt return average at 7.4 yards, and the longest return of the season was 22 yards, by Johnthan Banks.

Banks split return duties with Chad Bumphis in 2011 and ’12, and each of them had a return for touchdown two years ago. But otherwise, MSU didn’t find much of an advantage in the return game. With those two gone, Mullen now has to decide who can bring more to that area of the game.

There are several good candidates, but the job might end up in the hands of LaDarius Perkins. The senior tailback has never done punt returns, but he has ample experience on kickoff returns, averaging 21.1 yards on 46 returns over the past three years. There’s a difference between returning kicks and punts, of course; you usually get a running start on kickoffs, while a punt returner often has to be able to dodge defenders as soon as he catches the ball.

Perkins can be shifty and has great hands, so he would appear to be a good choice.

I am the online content coordinator for Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04). I'm working on a recipe for bacon-flavored coffee, which would solve all the world's problems.

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