Bulldogs struggling to stay focused

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State is off to a fast start, but its motor hasn’t always been revved up.
The Bulldogs had issues their last two games in wins over Troy (30-24) and South Alabama (30-10). There were lapses in each game, especially on offense.
MSU punted on its first four possessions against South Alabama. Coach Dan Mullen said he noticed his team’s focus and maturity slipping at times.
“I don’t want to say we’re not motivated for the games,” Mullen said Tuesday, “but I even think during the games I see that, where we’ll play a great offensive half and then a bad offensive half; and we’ll play a great defensive half and then a bad defensive half.”
“It is hard sometimes, you try to fight against the kids looking up at the scoreboard and saying, ‘Hey coach, we’re up big.’ All of a sudden, a team comes back on you a bunch and you don’t feel comfortable about it.”
Tailback LaDarius Perkins admitted, “It’s kind of hard to get up for games like that, but you can’t let that affect you. That’s not an excuse. You’re always supposed to play up to your potential and everything, and you’re not supposed to play down to anybody’s level.”
The No. 21-ranked Bulldogs (4-0) will have some extra time to work on that during this off week, and then must muster up the proper motivation for its Oct. 6 date at struggling Kentucky (1-3, 0-1 SEC).
Perkins doesn’t see it as a problem.
“To me they’re a good team, so we’ve got to come out and play our A-game.”
Perkins on Walker list
Perkins was added to the Doak Walker watch list on Tuesday. That award goes to the nation’s top running back.
Through four games, Perkins has rushed for 389 yards and five touchdowns.
“It’s a pretty big deal. It’s OK,” he said. “I give all the credit to my offensive line and my teammates also, because it wouldn’t be possible without them.”
Injury updates
Mullen said tight end Malcolm Johnson, who’s been out all year with a pectoral injury, is being upgraded to questionable for the Kentucky game. Mullen said last week he expects Johnson to be ready for the game.
Cornerback Cedric Jiles (broken hand) is doubtful; defensive lineman Devin Jones (sprained shoulder) is questionable; and starting right guard Tobias Smith (knee) remains questionable after missing the last two games, mostly for precautionary reasons.
brad.locke@journalinc.com