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By LEE ADAMS
Mississippi State could be without three players for this week's game against No. 6 Arkansas.Â
The Bulldogs will for sure be without one player - sophomore defensive back Nickoe Whitley.Â
Whitley suffered a season-ending ruptured achilles in Saturday's loss to No. 3 Alabama, but MSU head coach Dan Mullen feels the Bulldogs will be fine in the secondary, even without Whitley.
"We still have two senior safeties that have have been starting," said Mullen. "Those two are going to have to carry a bulk of the load for us."
Another MSU player who could possibly miss this weekend's game is senior quarterback Chris Relf. Relf was knocked out of Saturday night's game with a mild concussion.
"Chris is going to be day-to-day," said Mullen. "We doubt he'll practice today (Monday) but he'll be day-to-day throughout the week."
The third Bulldog who could miss the game, which is set for 2:30 p.m. in Little Rock, is senior linebacker Brandon Maye. Maye was suspended for the Alabama game, and it is unclear if that suspension will carry over to this week.Â
"He'll practice with the team today and then we'll make a decision as the week goes about the game," said Mullen.
One player who is for sure to play on Saturday, despite his recent struggles, is kicker Derek DePasquale. Earlier in the season DePasquale seemed to be on a roll making eight of his first nine field goal attempts. However, when the South Carolina game rolled around, he seemed to lose his rhythm as he missed two of his three attempts. In fact, he hasn't made another field goal other than extra points since that game.
"Derek has made a lot of field goals in his career, but he's missed a bunch in games now," said Mullen. "He makes them in warm ups, makes them in practice and in the beginning of the season he was missing them all in practice but making them in the game."
When it comes to kickers, it's a different approach when it comes to fixing the problems.
"Kicking field goals is a skill. It's not an effort-based thing," said Mullen. "You look and you say okay, you can't say, let's go harder because we have to fix the skill of kicking the field goal. It's not something that effort fixes, skill fixes."
Mullen will try to coach DePasquale through the problems and get them fixed for the final two games of the season. As those final two games approach, there is one thing going on that has shocked the college football world and that's the Penn State saga.Â
"It's tragic," said Mullen. "It is a real tragedy for everything in every way. It's tragedy with how many lives it has ruined. Ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine percent of their undergraduates, professors and alumni had no idea and it's tragic for all of them that they've been brought down. It's just a really sad, sad story that's way outside of sports. It's a shame a lot of the great sports people have been brought down and their careers tarnished because of the actions that have occurred.""
Even though Mullen has never coached or played at Penn State he does have a connection to the university through his father, who has been affected by the events at his alma mater.
"I get to talk to my dad and he feels like he's part of it and here's a guy that graduated in 1966, but as a Penn State alum, it tarnishes him," said Mullen.