Tyler Russell, quarterback for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, will be a key factor this season for an MSU team that hopes to put its disappointing 2012 season behind them. If Mississippi State is to make a move in the tough Southeastern Conference, and specifically in the Western Division, Russell’s play will be very important.
After redshirting his first year in Starkville, Russell saw action in nine games in 2010. He passed for 635 yards and five touchdowns during that campaign, but he also threw six interceptions. As a sophomore in 2011, Russell started four times and played in nine total games. He hit on 53.5 percent of his passes for 1,034 yards, with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Russell had his moments last season, as he connected on nearly 59 percent of his passes for 2,897 yards, with 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also rushed for two touchdowns.
Now a fifth-year senior, much more will be expected from Russell. Especially since the Bulldogs lost five of their last six games last season after winning their first seven. If MSU is to turn the corner this season, Russell must step up his play for Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs.
The 2013 schedule is a tough one for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs open the season in Houston against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. MSU faces road trips to face the Auburn Tigers, the South Carolina Gamecocks, the Texas A&M Aggies and the Arkansas Razorbacks. The home slate features games against the LSU Tigers, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs’ arch rival, the Ole Miss Rebels.
While the schedule is brutal, having a fifth-year senior behind center is something that Mullen and his staff hope can swing momentum in their favor. However, Russell is going to have to take better care of the ball this season if MSU is to take a step forward.