HOUSTON — Head trainer Justin Gremillion was the busiest person on the Mississippi State University football team’s sideline Saturday.
MSU lost four starters to injury in a 21-3 loss to No. 13 Oklahoma State University in the 2013 Texas Kickoff Classic at Reliant Stadium.
The Bulldogs were forced to play most of the game without safety Jay Hughes. The junior was helped off the field in the first quarter with what MSU officials later confirmed was an Achilles injury. Hughes was comforted by MSU coach Dan Mullen, his father, MSU secondary coach Tony Hughes, and several teammates while he was on the training table.
“I was hugging Jay while we were both in tears because he’s such a great kid,” MSU defensive coordinator Geoff Collins said. “Your heart goes out to a kid like that because he puts so much into the program and plays for two series. We’ve asked Jay to be the quarterback of the defense at times.”
Junior cornerback Jamerson Love, who is taking one of the starting spots left by 2012 second-round NFL draft picks Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay, suffered a severe ankle injury. The former Aberdeen High School standout suffered the injury in the second quarter and was ruled out of the game at halftime. Love’s replacement was former West Point High standout and East Mississippi Community College transfer Justin Cox. Without being able to turn to suspended cornerback Will Redmond, the Bulldogs’ defensive backfield depth was tested against OSU’s four-wide attack.
“We sure did deal with some adversity early on,” Mullen said. “What you take away from it is Oklahoma State dealt with their adversity and was able to score more points in the end. We have to learn to do that better in the future and learn it quickly.”
MSU senior quarterback Tyler Russell went down with a head injury in the third quarter and was taken to the locker room for evaluation.
MSU also lost junior right guard Justin Malone late in the fourth quarter. Malone had to be helped off the field after being unable to move his left leg. The Bulldogs turned to junior Ben Beckwith. Former Columbus High standout Tobias Smith didn’t dress Saturday despite being listed on the team’s active travel roster.
Before the game, MSU announced tight end Rufus Warren didn’t make the trip due to an injury. Concussion problems for junior middle linebacker Ferlando Bohanna also forced him to miss the game.
Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.