Mississippi Quarterback Enjoys Newest Role

FAYETTEVILLE -- According to the school's official web site, Mississippi State quarterback Michael Henig never has started a football game this season.

Well ...

That's not true. Henig started in a 17-0 loss against Alabama on Nov. 5 in Starkville, Miss. Mississippi State was off last week.

What gives?

Maybe it's a corrupt file.

"I didn't know it says that," Henig said. "I don't know why it says that. I'm got the bumps and bruises to prove I started against Alabama.

"That was a physical game."

In that game, Henig was 9 of 28 for 78 yards, no touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

Oops!

That's just the way the season has gone for the Bulldogs, who find themselves mired in a long, deep losing streak.

Mississippi State is 2-7 overall and has lost its last six. It is 0-6 in Southeastern Conference games.

And Henig has had his name published as Mike instead Michael in different newspaper editions.

Another corrupt file? Who knows?

"I like to be called Michael," he said.

Henig, a 6-foot, 175-pound redshirt from Montgomery, Ala., said he'll always remember his first collegiate start.

"It was really exciting," Henig said. "Being from Alabama and starting against Alabama was a lifelong dream.

"It's just one of those things."

Even though it's not recorded on the web site?

"That doesn't bother me," Henig said. "I had no idea it wasn't on there. If someone hadn't told me, I probably wouldn't have known."

For the record, Henig is 33 of 88 passing with 3 interceptions for 439 yards and no touchdowns this season.

Or at least that's what the official Mississippi State website indicates.

Henig replaced Omarr Conner at quarterback.

Conner has started eight games this season. Conner, a junior, is 86 of 167 with 5 interceptions. He's thrown for 903 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Half of his TD passes came in the season opener against Division I-AA Murray State on Sept. 3. In his last full game at quarterback, Conner was 14 of 31 for a measly 84 yards in a 28-16 loss against Houston on Oct. 22.

After Henig took over as the starting quarterback, Conner was asked to catch passes again. He is splitting time at receiver.

"He's too good an athlete to keep off the field," Henig said. "Even though him and I play the same position, we get along just great. We are good friends, on and off the field.

"We go and eat sometimes. Talk to each other over the phone. We have some classes together.

"Yeah, we get along great."

Henig said it's good the Bulldogs are coming off a bye week. He said it helped them prepare for this weekend's game against Arkansas (3-6, 1-5).

That game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday in War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

"Oh yeah, the off week helped tremendously," Henig said. "I think it helped a lot of our injured people because a lot of them came back. We put some new stuff in.

"I think we'll be able to execute better."

Henig, too, said he's not worried about making his first start on foreign soil.

"Being on the road ... I think the only thing really is the fact it's louder, that's it," Henig said. "If we put together what we know we can do, we can win games. We know that.

"You're still got a hundred-yard field to play on."

So, what is Henig expecting?

"I'm not really going to worry about the crowd noise," he said. "I've played at Florida and I don't think there's anything louder than Florida."

Hening did say he's concerned with the Arkansas defense.

"I know they have good linebacking in No. 24 (Sam Olajubutu)heis supposed to be really good," Henig said. "It seems like he leads in the SEC in every defensive category.

"Overall, they are a good defensive team."

Henig said waiting his turn hasn't been easy, but he's taken advantage of his time on the sidelines.

"When I was on the sideline, I knew the play and I knew what was gonna be called," he said. "I learned a lot by watching what was going on out on the field. It helped me get ready.

"When you're on the field, you see a whole different game.

"It isn't as easy as watching."

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