For as long as I can remember, the most popular man on Mississippi State’s campus seems to be the backup quarterback.
Having been born and raised in the Golden Triangle, I recall Bulldog fans clamoring for Matt Wyatt when Derrick Taite was the starter, then for Wayne Madkin when Wyatt was the starter and vice versa in the late 90’s.
Current quarterback Tyler Russell was also in those shoes as fans salivated for him to take over the starting role from Chris Relf two years ago. Now Russell finds himself amid another quarterback controversy after suffering a concussion during the second half in week 1 against Oklahoma State.
Sophomore Dak Prescott has started the past three games for the Bulldogs, accounting for 860 yards of offense and nine touchdowns and no turnovers over that span.
MSU coach Dan Mullen stated following Prescott’s latest four-touchdown performance this past weekend that Russell is still the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback and that he expects to have him back for their Oct. 5 game against LSU.
This came as a shock to many but does make sense. After all, Russell is on pace to set nearly every career passing record the school has and already owns 11 single-season records set last year.
Russell has already faced LSU three times during his career and last year against the Tigers’ second-ranked pass defense completed 26 of 38 passing for 295 yards, one touchdown and one interception. It was the highest completion percentage LSU had given up since 2003.
Providing they stay healthy, I expect to see both quarterbacks interchanged throughout the remainder of the season. Both bring differing styles and skills to the position and makes it even tougher for opposing teams to prepare for.
Russell is a pocket passer with 32 games of experience under his belt. Prescott is a true dual-threat that is just as dangerous with his legs as he is with his arm.
If Prescott starts, struggles and State falls behind, bringing in Russell in relief would really turn the offense one dimensional, and defenses can just pin their ears back and come after the quarterback.
If Russell starts and struggles, the Bulldogs can turn to a confident Prescott who adds a running dynamic as a potential spark to the offense off the bench.
Who should start? There’s a man in Starkville who gets paid $2.65 million a year to make that decision and last time I looked at my bank account that wasn’t me.
Logan Lowery (logan.lowery@ journalinc.com) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal.