STARKVILLE – A lot of people are wondering how Mississippi State’s quarterback situation will shake out this Saturday, as well as down the line.
Count Tyson Lee among the curious.
MSU’s senior quarterback, who started the final eight games of 2008, knows he’ll be splitting time with redshirt sophomore Chris Relf. How coach Dan Mullen will split those duties, and for how long, is the question.
“I’m not sure. Each day we rotate at quarterback, so as far as if he’s looking for a one-quarterback system or two-quarterback system, I’m not exactly sure what he’s looking for,” Lee said Monday after Mullen’s first game week press conference.
The Bulldogs open the Mullen era at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against Jackson State. The game, at Davis Wade Stadium, will be broadcast on ESPNU.
So which takes precedence: The play or the player? Mullen’s answer didn’t exactly clear that up.
“A lot of it will depend on play calling,” he said. “Whatever play we run on the first play of the game will probably be depending on who’s in there. A lot will depend on field position, where we are on the field, who’s gonna be in the game at every position.”
For Lee, this is similar to last season, when he battled the now-departed Wesley Carroll for the job. Carroll had it early, but Lee earned it five games in.
At different times this preseason, Lee and Relf have, in turn, rotated in by play, every three plays, or every series. Mullen’s philosophy is that quarterback is no different than any other position when it comes to substituting.
As with running backs and wide receivers, it will be a by-committee approach at quarterback. Perhaps, eventually, either Lee or Relf will grab hold of the starting job full time.
For now, it’s a fluid situation. Offensive lineman Quentin Saulsberry doesn’t think it will hinder the offense.
“As a lineman, you really don’t look too much in the backfield to see what’s going on,” he said. “You just pay attention to what’s in front of you, do your job, and everything will (take care of) itself.”
Dixon to play?
– Senior tailback Anthony Dixon is on this week’s depth chart, listed as a possible starter along with Christian Ducre; and Arnil Stallworth. Dixon has been serving undisclosed team discipline for his DUI arrest in July, but Mullen didn’t say if he’ll play this week.
“That’ll be determined later in the week, obviously by us,” Mullen said. “Anthony is working right now – hard – to fulfill his requirements for some of the things that we’ve proposed for him to get back in good standing with the team.”
Dixon has been off-limits to the media since his arrest. If he plays Saturday, SEC rules mandate he be made available during the postgame press conference.
If he doesn’t play, Mullen said he feels good with Ducrampé and Stallworth, both seniors.
“That has to be our position with the most depth on our team as well as the most experience on our team,” Mullen said. “Those are guys that we really need to lean on this year in every aspect of the game.”
Another first for Mullen
– Mullen proved himself as an offensive coordinator at Florida. Now he gets to find out what he’s made of as a head coach.
“I feel a little bit different than I felt over the last couple of weeks, and I know our team feels a little bit different,” he said. “The whole mindset of our program is now changing to get ready to go play a football game.”
So what kind of head coach will Mullen be on game day? That’s what his assistants have been jokingly asking the man who can get quite worked up on the practice field.
“I’ve never been much of a yeller or screamer or crazy man on game day, kind of a lot more focused on getting the job done and the task at hand,” he said. “That’s how I’ve always been as an assistant, so I’ll see how my emotions carry me as a head coach now on Saturday.”
– When he was at Florida, Mullen recruited Jackson State senior receiver Carlos Everett. … WR Chad Bumphis (ankle) returned to full speed at Monday’s practice. Center J.C. Brignone (ankle) was limited but should be “full go” by Saturday, said Mullen. Bumphis is listed as a starter on the depth chart. … This is the first-ever meeting between MSU and JSU. Mullen said he’d like to see them meet on a more regular basis.