By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – For 35 days, Tyler Russell sat helplessly on the sidelines, unable to play due to the lingering effects of a concussion suffered in the season opener.
The Mississippi State senior quarterback missed three games before returning to the field last Saturday in a backup role. Russell led the team with 146 yards passing and two touchdowns.
“It felt good to get back out there,” Russell said. “I hadn’t played in over a month and it was good to get back into rhythm and the flow of things.”
Russell was welcomed back by a sack on his first play from scrimmage in the second quarter. But he bounced back up and led the Bulldogs on a 75-yard scoring drive.
“I’m the type of person that it takes me one or two plays to get going,” Russell said. “That was the play I got sacked on. After that, I knew I was ready. We went down there and scored on that drive.”
The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder actually checked the play at the line of scrimmage to set up his 20-yard touchdown toss to Jameon Lewis on that opening drive.
“It was the exact same coverage as last year,” Russell said. “I’d seen it before and (LSU) brought it again. I was quick and knew what to do with the protection I wanted to call and the route. It was just muscle memory. I knew what to do. We really didn’t go over that play at all during the week and had another check but I thought that would be the right play in that moment.”
On Russell’s second possession, he broke Derrick Taite’s school record with his 39th career touchdown with a 59-yard scoring strike to De’Runnya Wilson. He also owns 11 single-season school records and is the all-time leader in pass efficiency.
Russell was expected to resume his role as the Bulldogs starter in the LSU game but admits he did not practice well leading into the contest which led to Dak Prescott getting the nod.
“To be honest, I really didn’t have a good week of practice,” Russell said.
“I think I was just trying to press too much and make the perfect throw instead of just letting it happen. When I got in the game it just kind of all came to me. I felt like I was my old self.”
MSU coach Dan Mullen stated during the SEC coaches’ teleconference on Wednesday that he expects to use both Russell and Prescott in every game the remainder of the year providing both stay healthy.
Mullen has proven he can manage multiple quarterbacks in the past. Russell has split time with Chris Relf during his career and did so a year ago with Prescott as well.
“I’d say we’ve got two of the best quarterbacks in the nation right now,” Russell said. “It doesn’t matter who starts. Whoever is in there is going to lead the team down the field to score.”