By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
BATON ROUGE, La. – Mississippi State left Tiger Stadium a loser, but quarterback Tyler Russell bounced back in a big way.
In Saturday’s 37-17 loss to No. 9 LSU, Russell completed 26 of 38 passes (68.4 percent) for 295 yards and a touchdown. In his two previous games, both losses, Russell was 34 of 60.
His 14-yard TD pass to Chad Bumphis in the third quarter was his 17th of the season, which puts Russell alone in first place on the school’s single-season touchdown pass list.
He surpassed Derrick Taite, who threw 16 in 1995.
“I thought he managed the game very well, got us into the right plays, made a lot of big plays,” MSU coach Dan Mullen said. “He did what we needed him to do to be a big-time quarterback.”
Russell guided MSU 74 yards to a touchdown on its first possession. He completed 5 of 6 passes for 58 yards.
Russell did a good job working the middle of the field and made his usual assortment of tough pinpoint throws. He spread the ball around again, completing passes to eight different players.
“He made some nice checks on his own to change the play at line of scrimmage. I saw him doing that a bunch,” Mullen said. “We give him the freedom to do that.”
Russell said the game plan coming in was to hit some quick passes. He’d taken quite a few hits the past two games, and the offensive line kept him upright until back-to-back sacks in the fourth quarter.
He completed some long passes, hitting Chad Bumphis for 40 yards and Malcolm Johnson for 24 yards.
“I put so much time into watching film this past week,” Russell said. “I knew what they were going to do before it even happened. It was easy to go out there and take control and make plays, and we were able to do that at times.”
Bumphis caught nine passes for 140 yards and a TD. The senior from Tupelo said MSU’s success over the middle of the field was due to Russell.
“It’s got a lot to do with Tyler and the ball placement. We’ve got a lot of trust in him, and he’s reading the defenses, and he’s just putting the ball where it needs to be.”