By BRAD LOCKE / NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Injury has once again derailed Marcus Green’s season.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said Monday that his starting tight end will have season-ending surgery Thursday to repair a sprained MCL and partially torn ACL in his right knee. Green suffered the injury in Week 2 against Auburn, and while coaches held out hope Green could return, the injury proved too severe to overcome.
“We knew with the situation a couple of weeks ago where he was at, and we thought he’d be able to play,” Mullen said. “He just realized that he couldn’t, but he’s been pretty (upbeat).”
Green had an MRI on his knee three weeks ago, and Mullen said at the time that “he should be fine for next week,” which was the LSU game. However, swelling on the knee persisted, and the use of a brace didn’t help enough to the point that Green could function safely on the playing field.
It’s a big loss for an MSU offense that needs all the weapons it can get. After missing most of 2008 with a hip pointer, Green was second on the team in receiving last year, catching 27 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns.
The 6-foot-1, 235-pound junior brings more speed and playmaking ability to the position than a lot of tight ends.
“We know that he’s going to get his job done whenever he’s on the field,” left tackle Derek Sherrod said.
Green did not show up at Monday’s press conference, but offensive coordinator Les Koenning said he was handling things well and is looking forward to getting back to 100 percent. Mullen said he expects Green to be “full go” for spring practices.
“That one’s hit me harder than anything, because I’ve seen the change in him,” Koenning said. “He’s a guy that would walk into a meeting room, and then walk into different places, he wants the ball. He wants a chance to make the difference.”
Mullen said Green, who redshirted his freshman year, meets the criteria to gain a medical redshirt, but that can’t be applied for until he’s exhausted his eligibility.
As for the rest of this season, State must turn to senior Brandon Henderson or junior Kendrick Cook. Henderson’s missed the last two games with a knee injury; he was cleared by doctors to play against Alcorn State but didn’t feel 100 percent.
In three games, Henderson has three catches for 25 yards, while Cook has one catch for 12 yards in four games. Henderson is expected to play this week, but Green’s absence will continue to be felt.
“It might limit us in our multiple tight end packages, but it certainly doesn’t prevent us from running it,” Mullen said. “Now that Brandon’s back, we can really go back to expanding that package.”
Defense’s slow response
n Manny Diaz has watched the film of MSU’s 49-16 win over Alcorn State, and the second quarter was easily the hardest part to relive.
“It was terrible,” MSU’s defensive coordinator said. “It was really horrifying.”
In that quarter, Alcorn State scored 16 points and gained 200 yards of offense. Freshman quarterback Brandon Bridge scored on a 78-yard touchdown run as the Braves twice got within a touchdown of the Bulldogs.
Diaz believes his players were trying too hard for a shutout, and that some big plays knocked them on their heels for a while.
“It seemed like when that (78-yard) play scored, our guys on the sideline, it’s like we didn’t even know what to do now, instead of just playing. We’ve almost shut out a couple of teams this year by not thinking about shutting them out.”
MSU eventually clamped down and shut out the Braves in the second half. But Mullen wants to see a swifter response to adversity.
“The leaders didn’t step up until we got to the locker room,” Mullen said, “and that’s more disappointing than maybe giving up all the points, is it should’ve been stopped after one score.”
MSU schedules Valley
n MSU has made a habit of scheduling in-state competition, and it’s done so again. The Bulldogs will open the 2013 season with an Aug. 31 home date against Mississippi Valley State, a spokesman said Monday.
It’ll be the first meeting between the two schools and the third for MSU against a SWAC team. The others were Saturday’s meeting with Alcorn State and last year’s game against Jackson State, which MSU won 45-7.
State also is set to play Southern Miss in 2014 and ’15.
n Mullen said injured defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (ankle) should be back for this week’s game at Houston. … MSU has a chance to win its fourth consecutive non-SEC game, something it hasn’t done since the Jackie Sherrill era. … Houston ranks sixth in the country in scoring offense (44.3 points per game), while MSU ranks 22nd in scoring defense (16.2 ppg). … MSU tailback Vick Ballard leads the SEC in scoring with 54 points. He’s scored on eight rushing touchdowns and one receiving TD.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.