Bulldog Simmons receives SEC award ahead of big week

MSU's Jeffrey Simmons and company
Staff Writer

There’s a huge game coming up for Mississippi State this Saturday when the Bulldogs battle LSU at 6 p.m. at Davis Wade Stadium. MSU hopes to earn the spoils of victory and a 3-0 start to the season then.

Already though, one Bulldog has staked claim to a prize.

MSU defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons was picked as the Southeastern Conference’s Defensive Lineman of the Week on Monday after his dominant performance in State’s 57-21 win at Louisiana Tech over the weekend. In the contest, Simmons became the first Mississippi State defensive player to score two touchdowns in the same game since Johnthan Banks back in 2009.

It’s just the latest sign that Simmons is blossoming into one of the biggest defensive threats in the SEC.

“He’s really getting there,” Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said of Simmons during Monday’s weekly press conference. “Being a second-year player, he had some success last year and got an accolade or two last year, but I’ve really seen him take up the game and be a much better fundamental player every single snap.”

A week after recording his first career sack against Charleston Southern, Simmons had a much greater impact against LA Tech. He almost single-handedly turned the game around.

MSU trailed 9-0 when Simmons blocked an extra point attempt midway through the first quarter. After State kicked a field goal to pull within 9-3, Simmons then put his team ahead when he blocked a LA Tech punt, then recovered it in the end zone for his first touchdown of the night.

Later in the game, Simmons notched MSU’s longest fumble-recovery touchdown in 17 years. Simmons picked up a loose football on the 10-yard line and took it 90 yards for a score.

With that touchdown, Simmons alone got in the end zone more times than three SEC teams that played on Saturday.

If the first two weeks of the season are indicative, Simmons likely has more special games ahead.

“He’s a gifted athlete and you can see that in several of the special plays that he makes," Mullen said of Simmons. "He’s really worked hard in understanding the fundamentals of the game and knowing where he’s supposed to be and when he’s supposed to be there and every little detail.”

---Dear could play---

Mississippi State junior wide receiver Malik Dear could possibly play against LSU this Saturday after missing the year’s first two games recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered in the spring.

“I know he really wants to play this week,” Mullen said of Dear. “He’s kind of on the edge this week.”

Dear has been a versatile weapon for MSU offensively the last two seasons, catching 45 total passes for 481 yards and four touchdowns and also rushing 28 total times for 234 yards and two scores. His addition would only strengthen MSU’s depth and add another piece that could have an immediate impact. There are no guarantees he’ll play though.

“Talking to the trainers, (Dear) might practice some and have a limited role in the game this week for us and just see how he does,” Mullen said. “It’s up in the air. He hasn’t gone full practice yet, but he might practice this week.”

---Dantzler to miss first half---

MSU defensive back Cameron Dantzler will miss the first half on Saturday as he serves his suspension after receiving a targeting penalty during the second half against LA Tech.

“There is no appeal that can be done,” Mullen said. “The officials made their call and that was their call.”

Dantzler was ejected from the game for the penalty. By rule, he is forced to miss the next game’s first half.

---Williams available---

Mississippi State starting left guard Darryl Williams will be available for the Bulldogs against LSU after leaving the Louisiana Tech game with a shoulder injury.

Mullen said Williams was mainly held out the rest of the LA Tech game due to precaution.

“He could have gone back in the game Saturday, but we were playing well and decided to let him get healthier," Mullen said.

Michael Story replaced Williams against Louisiana Tech. Mullen was pleased with how Story filled in.

“I thought he did well,” Mullen said. “I thought our offensive line, as a whole, played pretty solid during the game.”

---MSU-UGA time set---

Mississippi State’s Sept. 23 game at Georgia has been set for a 6 p.m. kickoff it was announced on Monday. The game will be televised on ESPN.