MSU quarterback Tyler Russell participates in Southeastern Conference Media Days on Wednesday in Hoover, Ala. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)
HOOVER, Ala. â€“ Mississippi State fans have long waited for the day when their beloved Bulldogs displayed a high-flying, high-octane offense.
When quarterback Tyler Russell signed with Mississippi State, that fire was stoked giving way to the anticipation of when the Meridian native would lead the offense.
That day has come and with a gunslinger under center and a veteran receiving core, so has the time for a high-powered offense.
â€śI like to throw the ball and weâ€™ve changed a lot of stuff up that will help benefit me and I really believe that it will benefit the team too,â€ť said Russell who eyes his first start as the leader of the MSU offense. â€śWeâ€™ve got a lot of running backs that can really run the football and weâ€™ve got receivers that we can now utilize the way we need to.â€ť
Chris Smith, Arceto Clark and Chad Bumphis highlight a seasoned group of receivers that gives Russell the confidence to make plays on offense.
â€śFirst, I think it starts with the fact that we have five senior wide receivers that have played in games, that have experience and can go get the ball,â€ť Russell said. â€śSo, from a standpoint of what is Tyler Russell going to do, itâ€™s really easy for me. I have a lot of weapons and all I have to do is get the ball in the playmakers hands and everything should take care of itself.â€ť
To Russell, it isnâ€™t just his receivers, but the entire offense which has playmakers who can change a game on any play.
â€śWe have four really good running backs that can step up as well,â€ť Russell said. â€śWhen you add the wide receivers, the running backs, stick me in there and you have a great offensive line, we are looking for some big things this year.â€ť
As the starting quarterback, Russell not only draws confidence from his teammates, he now shares a new relationship with his head coach which only a starter can have.
â€śNow (coach Dan Mullen) is asking me what I want to throw and what routes I like,â€ť said Russell. â€śA couple of years ago, I would just have to go with the flow. Now Iâ€™m the starting quarterback and he is leaning on me a little bit more and asking questions.
â€śIâ€™ve been in the system for a while now and I know the things he wants me to do. He is not shy about getting in your face and telling you youâ€™re not doing a good job at all. I think early on in my career, I would take that as offensive. Now, I know heâ€™s just trying to make me better and thatâ€™s helping me get to where I want to be.â€ť
Where Russell wants to be is alongside his teammates in the winnerâ€™s circle, no matter the field of competition.
â€śLike I said, you want to be the best in the country," Russell said. "Thatâ€™s what every team right now is preparing to do in the weight room and definitely in the classroom,â€ť said Russell. â€śWe want to be the best and that is what we are striving to do.â€ť
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