By Logan Lowery
For many in the SEC, Kevin Sumlin was a new face and a new name last year.
But that was not the case for Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen.
Mullen will face a Sumlin coached team for the fourth time on Saturday during his five-year tenure for the Bulldogs. Mullen is 1-2 in those matchups and gets a chance to even things out as MSU travels to Texas A&M at 2:30 p.m.
Sumlin was 1-1 against the Bulldogs in 2009-10 as head coach at Houston. The Cougars spoiled State’s homecoming 31-24 in 2009 with Case Keenum at quarterback before the Bulldogs returned the favor 47-24 the following year at Houston.
Sumlin moved to College Station last fall and once again got the upper hand against Mississippi State with a 38-13 victory.
Although the Aggies are still new to the conference, one advantage Sumlin has is having played against Mullen and the Bulldogs so frequently. He is familiar with the personnel and has watched MSU’s players evolve throughout their careers.
“They’re one of the larger teams that we’re going to play, including Alabama and LSU from a size standpoint,” Sumlin said. “They’re operating one of the better offenses in our league. They have a huge defensive line and are able to rotate guys in and out. They seem to have guys drafted and new guys to replace them every year. We’ve got to find some guys that look like that on the front seven.”
Last year in Starkville, Tyler Russell completed 19 of 30 passes for 212 yards, one touchdown and one interception while also running in another score. Russell guided State’s offense to 310 yards that day but fell behind 24-0 by halftime as gave up 693 yards to the Aggies in that contest.
Dak Prescott rushed twice for 14 yards against Texas A&M a year ago and did not attempt a pass. It is his addition that brings a different dynamic for the Bulldogs this time around.
“You look at them offensively, they’ve got weapons,” Sumlin said. “Dak Prescott is a good quarterback. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family after he lost his mother. That’s a difficult situation for anyone, especially a young man of his age. He certainly has given them a different element this year. He’s a big strong guy that can throw it and just run through people.”
Mullen said on his radio show Thursday night that Prescott will start Saturday. His availability was uncertain after the death of his mother on Sunday. Prescott has started six of the last seven game at quarterback.