By MATTHEW STEVENS
Mississippi State will be without its top two receivers for its bowl game due to injury.
State officials confirmed Monday afternoon sophomore Chad Bumphis will be out for the postseason contest after suffering a broken clavicle in Saturday’s 31-23 victory at Ole Miss.
X-rays performed Monday morning reveled a break in what is more commonly referred to as the collarbone after Bumphis hauled in a 44-yard reception from Bulldogs quarterback Chris Relf in the second quarter of the Egg Bowl matchup Saturday.
An MSU spokesman confirmed the 5-foot-10, 195-pound pass catcher from Tupelo will not be physically available until practices begin again this spring.
In the second quarter, Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf hit Bumphis for a 44-yard lofted pass over the Rebels secondary to get State in the red zone to take its final lead of the game. That play would be Bumphis’ only catch of the game, as State’s leading receiver in receptions, yards and touchdowns would leave the field clutching his shoulder and never return.
“It felt real good to see Chad go across the middle and I just laid the ball out there and he made a hell of a catch,” Relf said after the game.
MSU officials also confirmed Monday senior wide receiver Leon Berry, who suffered a dislocated ankle at Houston, is doubtful for a 2010 return and junior tight end Marcus Green, who had season-ending knee surgery, will not participate in the bowl game.
These three injuries leave an already depleted State team looking for options at the skill positions for the postseason contest. The likely receiving options for the Bulldogs are sophomores Arceto Clark (22 catches, 317 yards, 2 TDs), Brandon Heavens (20 catches, 304 yards, 3 TDs), Chris Smith (20 catches, 218 yards, one TD) and true freshman Michael Carr from West Point High School (one catch for nine yards).
State also had walk-on receiver Chris Cameron in the slot position in the second half against Ole Miss last Saturday.
“We’re not loaded with playmakers and we have some guys that make plays but not loaded with playmakers right now,” Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said after the Egg Bowl win Saturday. “We had the opportunities to make those big plays in that first half, they made them.”
State has also switched over defensive players Shane McCardell and Maurice Langston to wide receiver in practice this season but neither have caught a pass during the 2010 season.
Perkins, Sherrod honored
The Southeastern Conference has honored both Mississippi State tailback LaDarius Perkins and offensive tackle Derek Sherrod as players of the week.
Perkins, a red shirt freshman, had a showcase performance with 140 receiving yards and 98 yards on the ground along with a pair of touchdowns in State’s 31-23 victory over Ole Miss Saturday. Perkins was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time this season.
After the Greenville native got one carry last week against Arkansas, his career-high 319 all purpose yards was the second most in school history and the most since Nick Turner had 344 at Tennessee in 2003.
The speedster, who didn’t play in last year’s Egg Bowl win, had touchdown catches of 33 and 36 yards from Chris Relf to bust the game wide open before the Bulldogs headed into the locker room with a 21-9 advantage. Perkins was also the recipient of the longest pass play of the game on a 71-yard screen pass that set up a rushing touchdown by backfield mate Vick Ballard.
“This game showed what I can do in open space,” Perkins said. “It was a pretty big game for me. All you got to do is be patient and wait for your time to come.”
Sherrod, who is a projected first round pick by numerous mock drafts, helped pave the way for the Bulldogs to amass 498 total yards, including 210 on the ground, in Mississippi State’s 31-23 victory at Ole Miss.
The senior from Columbus graded out at 92 percent with six knockdowns, his eighth 90 percent score of the season. Sherrod led an offensive line that cleared the way for the Bulldogs to average 215.8 rushing yards per game, ranking second in the SEC and 16th nationally.
Sherrod was named Offensive Lineman of the Week for the fourth time during the 2010 season and is being promoted by State officials as an All-American candidate.
“Derek is the best offensive tackle I’ve ever been associated with in my coaching career,” Mullen said. “He’s such a consistent performer every day that’s put the time and effort into being a great player at his position.”
Sherrod was being honored by the Jackson Touchdown Club Monday evening with Mullen as his presenter.
Stricklin says MSU working on new deal with Mullen
Mississippi State University and head football coach Dan Mullen are working on a new four-year contract that would roll over his deal until 2014.
MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin confirmed to the Starkville Daily News Monday evening that the university is interested in a new four-year contract with its second-year head coach.
“We're going to be smart and aggressive in this process,” Stricklin said. “The normal protocol for something like this and the way we’ve done it in the past is to rip up the old contract and sign a brand new four-year deal.”
Under Mississippi state law, contracts with state employees can last no longer than four years.
Stricklin did say he anticipated a raise Mullen’s annual salary for the new deal, saying the Bulldogs head coach got a salary increase after last year, but would not discuss the financial details of a potential deal.
Mullen’s name has already been mentioned as a candidate for two of the current vacancies in Division 1 football at Miami and Minnesota. The Bulldogs head coach was asked about the speculation and rumors Monday morning on the First Call radio show hosted by former Mississippi State quarterback Matt Wyatt and said he had not been contacted by a single school yet.
“I guess it’s a good thing for myself and for Mississippi State because it means we’re winning,” Mullen said on the radio Monday. “Speculation only comes when you’re winning. I think a lot of that stuff gets overblown….I have not been approached by anybody at this point and my wife and I are very happy here at Mississippi State.”