BY BRAD LOCKE
STARKVILLE – Maybe his numbers aren't eye-popping, but Tyson Lee has a way of impacting a game in a way that isn't always apparent on the stat sheet.
In Saturday's 17-14 win over No. 13 Vanderbilt, Mississippi State's junior quarterback was 12 of 22 for 81 yards and a touchdown.
But he didn't throw an interception – he hasn't all season – and his legs did even more damage to the Commodores than his arm.
Lee rushed for 29 yards, and he had two big third-down scrambles on MSU's go-ahead scoring drive in the third quarter. He capped that 12-play, 59-yard series with a touchdown pass to Brandon Henderson.
Lee was moving backwards on the play but kept it away from the defender.
“That's really where college football is headed. You better have a really dominating offensive line when it comes to pass protection, or your quarterback has to create some positive things for you,” MSU coach Sylvester Croom said.
Posed in first home start
It was only the second career start for Lee -the former walkon from Columbus who played at ICC -and his first start at Davis Wade Stadium.
He remained poised and was a big reason MSU converted on 9 of 18 third downs.
“He can think on the run,” Henderson said. “Most quarterbacks, when they run, it's very hard for them to throw and think about their different reads, but Tyson, he's great for us.”
State managed only three first-half points, and as bad penalties and other mistakes piled up, it was looking like the same old offense that's struggled so mightily this year.
But Lee said he was confident the second half would be different.
“We had a lot of times where we'd get down (field) and we couldn't continue to move it,” he said. “We knew the second half, we had to do the exact same thing, but we had to make more plays and get a few points on the board.”
Thanks to Lee, the Bulldogs did just that.