Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier (10) takes a hit against Clemson. (Photo by Dave Martin, AP)
The winner of the football matchup between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Auburn Tigers on Saturday will gain an early advantage in the Southeastern Conference Western Division race.
It creates a certain measure of pressure on quarterbacks making their seventh and second starts of their careers.
Signal callers are under the microscope and that's something that Tyler Russell of MSU and Kiehl Frazier of Auburn are finding out at a fast pace.
Russell made his sixth start of his career and first of the season for the Bulldogs in an easy 56-9 victory over Jackson State. He completed 15-of-24 pass attempts for 185 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
MSU head coach Dan Mullen said Russell's performance didn't come without flaws, but then again, he's always hard on quarterbacks.
"I always want my quarterbacks to play better," Mullen said on Wednesday's SEC teleconference. "I don't know if I can pick a game in my career where I can say I'm great with how you played the entire game. I'm always looking for something the quarterbacks to improve from.
"I really liked the way (Russell's) game day demeanor was, not just how it was on the field, but how it was on the sideline. (With) the adjustments we made during the game and how he handled that, I was pleased with."
Russell did win in his first outing of the season, while Frazier failed in that category as the Tigers dropped a 26-19 decision to Clemson in Atlanta.
Frazier completed 11-of-27 pass attempts for 194 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw an interception.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik was glad to see Frazier get the first game under his belt.
"He knows how to prepare and knows what to expect out of game day," Chizik said. "He knows what it's like on a Friday night before the game and getting his mind right so I think there are a lot of first-time things that he's really comfortable with, but overall he did some nice things in the football game and he'll hopefully continue to improve."
MSU's sophomore tackles
Mississippi State's sophomore offensive tackles Blaine Clausell, Archie Muniz and Damien Robinson were getting their chance to perform, while the Bulldogs were in the process of blowing out Jackson State.
Mullen was also pleased with the outing put forth by junior tackle Charles Siddoway.
"We've got a young group at the tackle position with a junior college transfer and two sophomores," Mullen said. "They are still developing but are gaining the experience needed to be great SEC players."
Bulldogs catching on
There were eight different Bulldogs who had at least one catch against Jackson State.
Jameon Lewis and Arceto Clark had three catches each to lead the way.
Mullen likes to get multiple receivers involved to keep defensive backfields guessing.
"We have some guys back who are great skilled players," Mullen said. "We try to mix it up and give teams different looks in the secondary, but that's one part I feel very confident with the experience we have."
Clark, Chad Bumphis and Chris Smith are all senior starters out wide.
That group has caught the attention of Chizik.
"They are good receivers and have played a lot," Chizik said. "It's obvious they have a different idea when it comes to throwing the football and how much they want to throw. Obviously, Tyler feels very comfortable in doing that, but even two years ago when we went there, they throwed some with the game on the line."
Old man Richt?
Georgia football coach Mark Richt may be the longest tenured coach in the SEC, but one would think he might still be offended if someone called him an old man.
When Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was giving his opinion on Georgia's game against Buffalo, prior to Saturday's meeting between the two teams in Columbia, Mo., he said watching the Bulldogs was "like watching Big Ten football, it's old man football."
Richardson has been withheld from the media since making those comments.
Richt seemed to get a kick out of the situation.
"I'm 50-years-old and to be called an old man, I thought was a compliment actually," Richt said. "I don't know how our guys feel about it, but the bottom line is guys are going to say things, so you can't worry too much about it. You've just got to worry about playing and see who does the best."
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