By LEE ADAMS
Mississippi State is coming off an exciting overtime win against Louisiana Tech, but they head back into Southeastern Conference play on Saturday. Last year, MSU's win over Georgia set the tone for the rest of the season and State head coach Dan Mullen feels this year's game has the same feel.
"We are in a similar situation as we were last year coming into this game," said Mullen. "Both teams had the same record and it was a hard fought battle for four quarters that came right down to the wire. I think winning that game catapulted us into having a good season last year so that's how important of a game this is for both schools coming into it."
As mentioned in yesterday's Starkville Daily News, this will be Mullen's first trip to Athens to face the other Bulldogs.
"It's the only stadium I haven't been to in the SEC, so I imagine that it will be a very hostile environment and tough environment to go play in," said Mullen. "To come out on top, we are going to have to execute at a high level and play a great football game."
With this week's game being the first back-to-back Saturday games for State, they can finally get to feel what their schedule is going to be like for the remainder of the season.
"It puts you back into your regular schedule but this is our first traditional game week so far this season," said Mullen. "It will get us started on the routine that we'll follow for the rest of the year."
With the injury-filled offensive line still trying to get back to full strength, the Bulldogs are going to be doing some trial and error to find who the right guys are for Saturday's game.
"We are going to mix and try to find the best combination of five," said Mullen. "A couple of guys are going to have to duel and learn some different positions until we find what our best combination of five is as well as be prepared for back-up situations if any other injuries come about."
Injuries are a part of the game, but it seems as if it has been a theme for the Bulldog front line so finding the right combo could be tough, and whatever five he goes to on Saturday is subject to change as well.
"Starting tomorrow, we're going to play with a couple of different combinations and then at the end of the week, decide our starting combination," said Mullen. "It's all going to be flexible, because if this guy goes down we start from scratch again."
The starting five for the La. Tech game could be moved around. Quentin Saulsberry has done a lot of moving around already this season, so a change for him won't be too tough, but for Gabe Jackson and James Carmon, the move could be more difficult. To find that perfect combination of linemen that Mullen is looking for, moving experienced players is an option, but one thing he's going to try to keep from doing is mess with placement of his freshmen. "You try not to move the freshmen around too much," said Mullen.
Freshmen Dillon Day and Blaine Clausell have seen some heavy action over the last two games due to the injuries to Tobias Smith and Carmon, so they have some limited experience at their positions.
Another Bulldog who has suffered from an injury is Brandon Maye, who sat out last Saturday's game due to concussion symptoms. However, Maye could be back this Saturday, but nothing is certain yet.