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Monday Talk with MSU coach Dan Mullen: Russell listed as starting QB, Prescott questionable after stinger injury




Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE - Mississippi State football officials updated the depth chart Monday and have senior Tyler Russell as the starting quarterback for the game this week against No. 1 Alabama.  


MSU sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott has been ruled "questionable" to play by Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen after suffering a pinched nerve in his left arm and the fifth-year head coach said he won't be reevaluated for practice this week.  


"Part of it is going to be the irritation level for him in a nerve deal with the stinger," Mullen said Monday in the Seal Family Football Complex.  


Prescott asked out of the game during MSU's final scoring drive of a 51-41 loss at Texas A&M after he took a major hit from a Texas A&M linebacker on a first down keeper. The drive ended with a touchdown pitch-and-catch from Tyler Russell to De'Runnya Wilson.  


"You get in a situation like the other night and Tyler has played a bunch and then he's already in the flow of the game so the second play, he bangs out a touchdown pass," Mullen said. "When you can have that (depth) without a huge separation between the two, it's a pretty good safety net to have." 


Alabama (9-0, 6-0 in Southeastern Conference) ranked No. 1 in every poll, is a 25.5-point road favorite when they travel to Starkville for a 6:45 p.m. kickoff at Davis Wade Stadium.  


"I think that Mississippi State probably has a very, very good team to have five losses to teams that are all rated in the top 20, and playing very competitively in every one of those games and being in every one of those games, so you have to look past the record," Mullen said. "This is a very good team offensively. They can run the ball. They keep the ball. Their time of possession is good. Defensively, they are in the top tier of the SEC. They are very well coached. Dan (Mullen) has done a great job there. They play hard, they are very physical, and they play with a lot of toughness. Their team spirit shows on special teams in terms of the way they do things. So this is a very good team that we are going to have to do a really good job of getting ready to play and play well. It is always important to play well on the road. Every place that we play is a difficult place to play and Starkville is no different. 


MSU (4-5, 1-4 in SEC) has never been this big a underdog in the five-year tenure of Dan Mullen.  


"Obviously any time you have the opportunity to play the number one team in the country, that's huge," Mullen said. "They've got five-star players as backups and sitting on the bench not getting tons of reps." 




With no practice for the MSU squad Monday, here's some bullet points on other nuggets that Mullen talked about with the media:  


Mullen added to the injury report this week saying that sophomore safety Dee Arrington is out for the remainder of the season with a unknown injury.  




- Mullen also commented on the injury of senior linebacker Deontae Skinner, who was ruled out of last week's loss at A&M with a pinched nerve that affected his spine. MSU announced less than a hour before kickoff they would be without its leading tackler heading into Saturday. Mullen said the determination of Skinner's status was made Wednesday that he wasn't going to be medically cleared for the game.  


"We love Deontae and with he would've been out there with us but I think we should've rallied around him today since he couldn't play with a injury," MSU junior linebacker Matthew Wells said.  




- Mullen didn't mention him Monday when he gave the injury report as the senior leads the team in tackles with 50. Skinner had five tackles in a 34-16 loss last week at No. 12 South Carolina. Skinner has 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack and a interception in the 2013 season. In the travel list submitted Saturday to the media by MSU spokespeople, Skinner was on the active roster and was scheduled to travel on the flight Friday with the team but was held back in Starkville following the injury. Skinner was using his Twitter account, Dskinner_11, during the game Saturday afternoon.  


"Deontae got a stinger and they saw some swelling in his spine and didn't discover it till mid-week," Mullen said. "Christian Holmes had to go back to linebacker with Bohanna already being out of the season. Deontae has a MRI scan later (Monday) so we should know more today and if he's not cleared today, then we should know in the middle of this week his status." 




All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.



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