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MSU's Mullen looks forward to renewing rivalry with USM

August 25, 2014

Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen speaks during a press conference. (Photo by Rogelio V. Solis, AP)

It's been nearly a quarter of a century since Mississippi State and Southern Mississippi have been on the same football field at the same time.
The last time the two teams played was 1990 with the Bulldogs taking a 13-10 win at Davis Wade Stadium. The only Bulldog player that was alive when that game was played was freshman tight end Rashun Dixon, who has spent the last several years playing minor league baseball. The Golden Eagles lead the series with a record of 14-12-1 with two of MSU's wins being vacated. The Bulldogs lead the series in Starkville with an 8-6-1 record.
The Bulldogs and Golden Eagles meet Saturday night in a newly-renovated Davis Wade Stadium to open the 2014 season.
"We're excited to get this season kicked off, get back out on the field and go play," MSU head coach Dan Mullen said at a press conference on Monday. "Kicking the year off as the prime time game, Saturday night game on the new SEC Network, is really exciting. Kicking the season off in our expanded stadium, we're going to have a record crowd in attendance on Saturday, which is going to be pretty special for us."
The biggest rival for the Bulldogs is Southeastern Conference Western Division foe Ole Miss in the battle of the Golden Egg Trophy. The MSU/Southern Miss rivalry may not have the same relevance the Egg Bowl has, but to Mullen and the Bulldogs, it's a big game.
"I know it means a lot to the people of this state," Mullen said. "I know how big of a game it is for everybody. It was one of the first things, when I got hired, that was brought up, (and that) would be interested in resuming this rivalry between the two schools. I'm really excited to do it and be a part of this game that has a lot of tradition and lot of history."
MSU sophomore wide receiver De'Runnya Wilson played with Golden Eagle wide receiver JaMicheal Willis when he was younger. Willis, a native of Birmingham, Ala., played junior college football at Jones County before transferring to Hattiesburg. 
There have been some words between Wilson and Willis this summer, but in good jest.
"I grew up with a couple of guys that go there and I heard jokes about that all summer about 'how we coming to your stadium, (and) we're going to take everything,'" Wilson said. "I just use that as motivation."

Hughes, Day, Johnson
selected as 2014 captains

MSU's 2014 football captains feature a trio of seniors.
Defensive back Jay Hughes, center Dillon Day and tight end Malcolm Johnson were announced as captains for the Bulldogs.
Mullen announced the captains via Twitter late Sunday night. They are voted on by the players.
"It just shows they are what our program is all about in the complete development of the individual," Mullen said. "It also shows the respect their teammates have for them in that here’s guys that have done things right throughout their career. They’re not all three household names or they wouldn’t be considered the biggest superstars on their team, but I think within our program when guys look at those guys and say this is what our program stands for, this is what we’re looking for in guys in our program. They kind of fit that mold and it’s great that our team recognizes that."
Hughes is coming off an Achilles injury he suffered in the first game last season. He has seen action all three seasons at MSU.
Day, a three-year starter, is on the Rimington Award Watch list, given to the nation's top center. Johnson has accounted for seven touchdowns in his three seasons with the Bulldogs. He started nine games as a junior last year.
Mullen said 26 different players received votes for captain by teammates.

Still unknown
with field goals

Sophomore Evan Sobiesk is listed as the starter at place kicker for Saturday's game, but Mullen says there is a good chance of seeing both kickers.
Freshman Westin Graves is listed as the backup and Mullen wouldn't commit to a solid starter.
"I'll keep trying to create more pressure situations this week to see," Mullen said. "They might both kick in the opener."
Sobiesk made just six field goals in 14 attempts last season, and Graves is a true freshman. The kicking game did not yield many points lat season, with just 10 out of 21 kicks made. 

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