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Mullen admits to almost playing Russell in ‘09

September 8, 2010

This file photo shows Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen during last year's game against Houston. Mullen said Wednesday that he was close to playing quarterback Tyler Russell in the loss to the Cougars last season. (Kim Murrell/SDN)

The rule of thumb normally is that a redshirt year typically helps a player from the perspective of his mental and physical adjustment.
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen obviously agrees with that way of thinking but when asked specifically about the topic in Wednesday’s Southeastern Conference media teleconference he admitted to wanting to play him last season.
Mullen shared a story where he got so frustrated over his team turning over the football against Houston in the 2009 Homecoming game, that he told the then-freshman from Meridian to warm up.
“There were times last year we almost played him,” Mullen said. “I went over and told him ‘go get ready, you’re going in the next series – we’re done you’re going to be our guy’ because we were turning the ball over too much.
In that 31-24 home loss to Houston last year, Chris Relf was inactive due to a violation of team rules and senior starter Tyson Lee went 15-of-23 for 160 yards but had two interceptions.
“Our defense held them to three-and-out on that next series and I didn’t think he was ready to run on the field in such short notice. By that time our offense went back on the field, I’d calmed down.”
Under NCAA rules, if Russell had participated in one snap last year he would’ve been ineligible to redshirt in 2009. In the week after that loss to the Cougars last October, Mullen described his quarterback situation as either Tyler would start and play a majority of the game or sit the rest of the season. 
“So a lot of me, at the mid-way point of the season, if we wanted to put Tyler Russell in to play, it would be because Tyler Russell is gong to play,” Mullen said. “And, you know, you expect him, hopefully, to be the starter for the rest of the season in that situation, because he needs to go do the whole thing. He’s not a package quarterback, so that’s where he is right now.”
Mullen did announce Wednesday Relf would be the starting quarterback for tonight’s matchup against No. 21 Auburn (6:30 p.m., ESPN) but that Russell would see snaps early in the first half.
“My sophomore year in high school, we did the two-QB system so it's really no big deal to me,” Russell said Monday. “When Chris goes in and he's doing good, it gets my confidence up because I feel like I should be doing good.”
 
Auburn staying with Fannin at RB despite Dyer’s debut
 
Tigers senior tailback Mario Fannin will get the start at tailback tonight against Mississippi State (1-0) despite only getting three carries and having a fumble Saturday night.
The ground game spotlight for most of Saturday’s 52-26 win over Arkansas State was focused primarily on true freshman Michael Dyer.
“My first game was very exciting,” Dyer said. “Coming from high school to college and competing in front of my family was a great experience. It was very exciting, especially scoring in my first game.
Dyer, who was five-star recruit and considered the nation’s best running back coming out of high school by many recruiting services, rushed for 95 yards on 14 carries in his collegiate debut against the Red Wolves.
“I was proud of Michael protecting the football when he ran it,” Chizik said. “He rushed for almost 100 yards in his first college game and hopefully he gains more confidence.”
Despite being pulled after a fumble early in the game, Chizik said in the post-game interview session to not read much into how the playing time situation worked out Saturday.
“I think what we try to do offensively is we really try to get what they give us and take what we think is there,” Chizik said. “I really wouldn't go that far. Mario had some great catches out of the backfield as you saw. Mario did that for us a lot last year. He is a very extremely talented athlete.”
Auburn played 12 true freshman throughout Saturday’s game against Arkansas State and the Tigers head coach conceded those dozen players may get more playing time when his 21st-ranked squad enters Davis-Wade Stadium tonight.
“We played a lot of young guys,” Chizik said. “The thing that was encouraging tonight is we played a lot of young guys when the game was still in hand and tried to rotate our defensive linemen and get a bunch of young guys in there.”
 
Georgia WR Green suspended four games
 
Georga junior wide receiver A.J. Green has been suspended four games by the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff.
UGA head coach Mark Richt said Wednesday afternoon there was nothing new to announce about Green’s playing status but that was before the NCAA released a statement on the decision.
According to the NCAA’s release, the investigators uncovered facts that Green sold his Independence Bowl game jersey to an individual who meets the NCAA definition of an agent. However, Green has already repaid the $1,000 value of benefits to charity.
Richt has told reporters earlier in the week that he expected to hear a ruling from the NCAA before the No. 22 Bulldogs take the field Saturday in its contest at No. 24 South Carolina.
“I'd be highly disappointed if we don't hear something this week," Richt said Tuesday. "I would think we will."
According to multiple reports, the case centers on the star receiver allegedly selling a game jersey, which is against NCAA rules although nobody in the UGA athletic department has come out publicly and discussed the details yet.
Green had been a target of the NCAA’s investigation into possible rules violation over the summer in which players from several schools attended an agent-hosted party in Miami. During SEC Media Days, Green quickly attempted to shoot down that speculation saying he's never been to Miami in his life.
Green, a junior all-conference selection from Summerville, S.C., was one of four Georgia players held out of the Bulldogs' 55-7 rout of Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday.
““If he’s there, he’s there; if he’s not, he’s not,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Tuesday after the team’s practice session. “It’s out of my control, so there’s nothing we can do. Wish there was, but there’s not.”

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