Bulldogs ready to play – now

By Brad Locke | NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – If the Music City Bowl were this weekend, Dan Mullen believes his team would be ready to play it.
Mississippi State wraps up its first of two game weeks today, with players and coaches going their separate ways for the holidays following today’s practice. Then they’ll reconvene on Dec. 26 in Nashville to further prepare for the Dec. 30 game against Wake Forest.
“Right now we have to finish up with another strong practice, I think we’d be ready to go play Thursday night,” Mullen said.
Defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said he feels good about where his guys are at in preparing for a pass-happy Wake Forest offense.
“Probably 85 to 90 percent of our game plan’s in,” Wilson said. “We’ll kind of detail that out, add and delete, and see what really fits us, and then we’ll take that into next week and really just make everything as clean and sharp as we possibly can.”
Recent practices have required a heavy workload for senior quarterback Chris Relf, because sophomore Tyler Russell – who’s started four games this season – is nursing a sprained MCL in his left knee. Russell took off his brace and went through all of Sunday’s practice, but he was held back Saturday and Monday.
He’ll be back at it full-time today, then get reassessed in Nashville on Monday.
“The most important thing is having him ready for the game and getting him the reps he needs to be ready to go play in the game,” Mullen said. “It’s a week from today, so that’s eons in injury time.”
Comings, goings
Mullen said no players of note are ineligible for the bowl game, and he said junior receiver Brandon Heavens is back after being gone a few weeks for personal reasons.
Heavens rejoined the team on Saturday. He’s made 10 catches for 114 yards and no touchdowns this season.
Also, walk-on defensive back Asian Ruff, a redshirt freshman from Fulton, has left the team and intends to transfer to ICC.
brad.locke@journalinc.com