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By LEE ADAMS
Mississippi State picked up their third win on Saturday and Fletcher Cox received an award for his performance in the 21-3 victory.
Cox was named as Southeastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the week on Monday morning.
The junior posted seven tackles against UAB, which is a career high, and was credited with five quarterback hurries. Cox's performance on Saturday is a great starting point for where the coaches want him to be.
"He played his best game for sure this past week," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "As far as that goes, he has to continually improve. He has to have a dominant performance every week for us and before he graduates here, we expect him to be one of the top d-linemen in the Southeastern Conference."
Cox is the first MSU defensive lineman to receive the honor since Pernell McPhee claimed it twice during the 2009 season, and Cox is happy about receiving the accolade.
"It feels good," said Cox. "I know how I prepared last week and I'm going to continue to do the same thing but prepare more, because I'm not satisfied."
Cox started his season one week later than most of his teammates as he was suspended for week one's game in Memphis. That late start meant he had to knock some rust off in week two against Auburn.
"I knew the first game I was a little rusty," said Cox. "I had to get back in the game routine and get my groove back"
Since then he has gotten his groove back and defensive coordinator Chris Wilson has noticed the hard work he has put in to get better and earn the recognition of the SEC.Â
"Every week he has improved," said Wilson. "He knows every position, he can play nose, d-end, d-tackle and he comes in every week trying to get better and so it's paying off for him."Â
Cox and the Bulldogs have spent most of their time on the road so far this season, playing only two games in Starkville out of the six games played. Getting to play their third game in Davis Wade Stadium seems to make them happy.
"It's great to be coming back home," said Mullen. "It's exciting to get a home game and play in front of the home fans and we expect a great crowd and atmosphere on Saturday for a tough SEC game as we try to get our first SEC win of the year."
During the first two home games, the crowd was electric, so Mullen's expectations of the crowd should be accurately represented on Saturday morning.
MSU used numerous new players on offense in last Saturday's non-conference win which opens things up as they try to become balanced.
"We want to have everybody involved in the offense," said Mullen. "The more guys that touch the ball, the more we're able to spread it around. That way we don't just hone in on one or two players and we can get balance across the board."
The biggest and most noticeable change on offense was Tyler Russell taking over at quarterback at the start of the second half.
Even though Russell accounted for all three MSU touchdowns in the game, nothing has changed with how the Bulldogs will approach practice to determine who the starter will be.
"We'll see how practice plays out during the week," said Mullen. "We'll get everybody reps and whoever gives us the best chance to win, we'll go play with them, kind of like we do every week."
The Bulldogs were without starting defensive end Sean Ferguson last Saturday due to an undisclosed injury and he is listed as day-to-day for practice this week according to Mullen.