August 30, 2012

Quarterback preview

Mississippi State played three different quarterbacks at times last season.

But unfortunately for the Bulldogs only one of those quarterbacks returns. Chris Relf graduated and Dylan Favre transferred to Pearl River (Miss.) Community College leaving only Tyler Russell as the only experienced signal caller on the roster.

Russell, who is entering his junior season, has played in 18 career games including making four starts in 2011. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder has completed 108-of-196 passing for 1,669 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

"We're very fortunate that he's been in SEC football games," said MSU offensive coordinator Les Koenning. "It's good to have him in control under center because he understands the tempo and understands what it's like."

Russell is currently the school record holder for passing efficiency (139.74) and passing yards per attempt (8.6).

Even though Russell was handed the reins to the Bulldogs offense he has continued to work through the spring and summer and is poised more than ever to lead the team.

"I think Tyler is much, much better than he was last year at this point," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "He understands the defenses and the offense and in his decision making and throwing the football. He's doing everything he needs to do to improve from last year to this year. Last year he was in a competition and this year he's going to be the starter. You would think this is the time for him to take his foot off the gas because he's going to be the guy. But he has continued to speed up and improve. That to me shows that he has what we need - that winning attitude that's going to work to be the best he can be."

Having a quarterback who's strength is throwing the football is a change from the attacking running style of Relf last season. Naturally that opens up the playbook more and helps the Bulldogs be more balanced on offense.

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