Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said Monday that Relf, the senior who won Gator Bowl MVP honors last year, will start Friday's Music City Bowl against Wake Forest.
Sophomore Tyler Russell, who started four games this year, is recovering from a sprained MCL in his left knee and has been limited in practices. He was moving well Monday, MSU's first practice in Nashville.
Team trainers have told Mullen that Russell can't make his injury any worse by playing in the game, and the coach said he expects Russell to be ready if needed. But "if he's not 100 percent, unless we really feel the need to, or he does fantastic (in practice) and we want to get him a couple of snaps in the bowl game, I don't see him going out there."
Mullen himself has been in recovery, as he caught the stomach flu over Christmas break. He was his usual peppy self on Monday, playing a game of catch with offensive line coach John Hevesy just before practice began at Vanderbilt University.
back to work
MSU hadn't practiced in six days and reported here Monday afternoon. Mullen said he was happy with what he saw from the team.
"It's a real short game week this week, so we just accelerate ourselves back on schedule to get our mindset into game week mentality," he said. "I was pretty pleased with retention of what everybody remembered coming off break of the game plan."
Mullen said he's never practiced at a conference opponent's facility and likes the setup at Vanderbilt.
"Obviously when the opportunity to practice at a fellow SEC school (arose), this was our first choice to come here. ... If we ever have a Cowbell Bowl or something in Starkville, we'll sure give up our facility to let them practice, let an SEC team practice there."
Wake Forest will arrive today after a morning practice.