September 20, 2010

State having problems of its own

There must be something in the water that doesn't bode well for SEC teams with Bulldogs as their moniker.

Georgia fans are all too aware of the troubles facing Mark Richt's squad (1-2, 0-2). As it turns out, Mississippi State is also having issues of its own.

Like Georgia, Mississippi State enters Saturday night's contest in Starkville (7 p.m., FSN) 1-2 overall and 0-2 in league play after LSU intercepted five passes in the 29-7 victory over the Bulldogs.

"Obviously yesterday was a very disappointing game," MSU coach Dan Mullen said in a teleconference with reporters. "We turned the ball over too much. You can't turn the ball over that many times.

Give LSU credit, they played a very sound game. Their average field position was our 48 and ours was minus-18. We played on a lopsided field all night and they did a nice job creating that lopsided field and we did a good job of handing them that lopsided field."

Junior quarterback Chris Relf started the game for MSU, completing 5-of-8 passes for just 35 yards with two picks before leaving after getting hit on the opening drive of the third quarter.

Redshirt freshman Tyler Russell played the rest of the game, and actually led the Bulldogs to their only touchdown despite being intercepted three times himself.

Mullen said Sunday that both quarterbacks will play against Georgia, although Relf will start.

"Nothing's changed for us," Mullen said. "Chris is the starter but we will play both like we have all season."

Still, the turnovers remain a huge concern.

"It is. We're not going to win football games turn the ball over like we are," Mullen said. "No matter who you're playing, if you're turning the ball over you're going to be fighting an uphill battle."

If there was one positive note for Mississippi State against LSU it was the fact that Mullen's squad only allowed a pair of touchdowns as Tiger kicker Josh Jasper accounted for 15 of the points with a school-record five field goals.

"We're playing solid defense. The negative part of the defense to me is we didn't make big plays to get off the field. We bent but didn't break but we're not built on that type of deal," Mullen said. "We are built on making plays on defense. I think they scored on all but their final two possessions. We need to prevent and stop that. We're pretty stout against the run but we gave up too many big plays and are only 50-percent on third down defense."

Despite Georgia's issues, Mullen said he expects the Bulldogs to be quite the challenge.

"Obviously, it's a big game for both of us," he said. "It's not the start that either team envisioned but obviously a big game that can turn either team's season around."

NOTE: Mullen said he hopes to get an update on the status of junior tight end Marcus Green who did not make the trip to LSU after suffering a knee injury against Auburn, along with replacement Brandon Henderson who injured his knee at the game in Baton Rouge.

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