By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
HOOVER, Ala. – Mississippi State has won 21 games during Johnthan Banks’ first three years in uniform, and three wins in particular stand out to the senior cornerback: The three against rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.
Banks is eager to make it a perfect 4-0 for his career.
“Every season we’re going out to win the SEC championship, but we really want to win the Egg Bowl every year, no matter what,” Banks said Wednesday at SEC Media Days. “That’s one game we’ll never lose.”
That last statement echoes something head coach Dan Mullen said following MSU’s 2010 Egg Bowl win. During the postgame locker room celebration, he told the players, “We’re never losing to this team again.”
The Bulldogs and Rebels won’t meet until Nov. 24, but Banks – who had 2.5 tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble in last year’s 31-3 win – is already certain of the outcome.
“We’re going to win the Egg Bowl for the fourth year in a row. I’m not being disrespectful … but it’s going to be a great feeling to go out and be 4-0 against the school up north.”
TE to miss games
Mullen confirmed Wednesday that starting tight end Malcolm Johnson will miss time this season, but he still didn’t reveal the nature of the injury.
Johnson was hurt nearly two weeks ago.
“He had an injury suffered this summer, probably be an extended injury,” Mullen said. “But we do expect him back on the field (this fall).”
Johnson averaged 18.7 yards per catch and scored three touchdowns last season. He has some of the best hands on the team and was expected to have a big role in MSU’s more pass-heavy schemes.
Senior Marcus Green, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, will step back into a starting role.
“Hopefully we’re able to keep him healthy and keep some depth before a position gets completely devastated, before you’re into third- and fourth-string guys having to be starters.”
LG Jackson gets help
Last season was an unsettled one for the offensive line, which was beset by injuries and spotty play. A steady hand during all that was left guard Gabe Jackson, who was one of only two MSU offensive lineman to start all 13 games at his position.
He earned second-team All-SEC honors, and the fourth-year junior is now the leader up front. He’ll have good help from right guard Tobias Smith, who’s back after missing most of last season with a knee injury – his absence was the biggest reason the line became unsettled.
There was a silver lining to Smith’s injury.
“It hurt us from the fact he was a good player, but we’re used to playing with somebody different,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t like, ‘Oh my God, what are we going to do?”’
Jackson also expects an improved Blaine Clausell at left tackle. The sophomore started four games there last year but couldn’t hold the job.
“He’s already familiar with the plays and everything, and ready to go, in shape, he got bigger, stronger,” Jackson said. “He was weighing probably 270-something (pounds) during the season, now he’s 310.”