Special teams a bright spot for MSU

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

MORE BULLDOGS: Bulldogs overcome lapses for 4-0 start


Inside Mississippi State Sports Blog with Brad Locke

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State received good returns on its return game Saturday.
The Bulldogs totaled 90 yards on two kickoff returns and 46 yards on five punt returns in a 30-10 win over South Alabama. That led to a lot of good field position, and for the most part, MSU capitalized.
A Johnthan Banks 20-yard punt return set up a field goal, while a 49-yard kickoff return by Jameon Lewis and 11-yard punt return by Chad Bumphis both set up touchdowns.
“That was probably the strong point of this game, kick return and punt return,” said Banks, who had 34 yards on three punt returns. “We’ve got a lot of athletes back there, and we saw if we could hold somebody up or block somebody, we can make big things happen.”
Lewis had all 90 kickoff return yards.
Head coach Dan Mullen was pleased with the special teams as a whole. Devon Bell made three field goals, Baker Swedenburg averaged 47 yards a kick, and the coverage units played well.
“I do think that was a bright spot,” Mullen said.
Russell ties Carroll
Tyler Russell could end up breaking a lot of school passing records at Mississippi State, but he’s going to have to settle for a tie in one category – for now, anyway.
Russell threw 137 consecutive passes without an interception before tossing a pick in the second quarter. One play after tying Wesley Carroll’s mark, Russell was intercepted by Tyrell Pearson.
It was Russell’s 11th career interception in 302 attempts.
Jones still out
Sophomore defensive lineman P.J. Jones is still on indefinite suspension four games into the season. The Tupelo product has been benched for an unspecified violation of team rules.
When asked if he could offer any further details about Jones’ status, Mullen said, “No. He’s still indefinitely suspended.”
Key drive
USA cut the lead to 20-3 early in the second half, but MSU quelled any comeback hopes with a five-play, 50-yard touchdown drive capped by Russell’s 1-yard sneak.
Key number
Two – Number of touchdowns MSU has allowed in its last 16 quarters at home.
Quotable
“I wasn’t real happy with our overall performance today. But you won the game, and 50 percent of people in the country are very sad right now. We get to be happy with this win.” – MSU coach Dan Mullen
Next weekend
MSU has its bye week, then will return to action Oct. 6 at Kentucky (1-3, 0-1 SEC).
Bulldog bites
Arceto Clark’s 46-yard catch in the third quarter was a career long for the Shannon native. … Senior defensive lineman Dewayne Cherrington and redshirt freshman linebacker Benardrick McKinney both drew their first career starts. … MSU has won 14 consecutive non-SEC games, four shy of the school record set between 1941-47. … State was plus-two in turnovers Saturday, making it plus-13 on the season. … It’s 20-1 under Mullen when winning the turnover battle. … MSU is 4-0 for the first time since 1999, when it started the season 8-0. … Tailback LaDarius Perkins has rushed for a touchdown in all four games this season.
brad.locke@journalinc.com