Russell enjoys record-breaking performance

STARKVILLE, Miss. - JaMarcus Russell dropped back in the pocket.

He surveyed the Mississippi State secondary, as his receivers cut across the field, some going long and others stopping short. He was calm and collected as he shuffled his feet in the rapidly collapsing pocket, eluding Mississippi State pass rushers, dodging arms and hurdling over legs.

He rolled right, glanced down field then fired. The ball, like a bullet shot out of a gun, hummed through the air, whistling over defenders heads and landing in the hands of one of the many LSU receivers.

It was all too simple for the Mobile, Ala., native. It was just too easy. Russell dissected the MSU secondary, having a field day in the first three quarters, before being taken out of the game when the Tigers' scored their final touchdown late in the third quarter.

He passed right, then left. He passed long, then short. He made his presence known, and he impressed everyone watching.

Russell had maybe his best game as a Tiger versus Mississippi State, completing 20 of 23 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. It surely was his most efficient game of his young, bright career—a career that could one day earn Russell a very large sum of money.

"I think JaMarcus can play that well," LSU head coach Les Miles said. "JaMarcus is a good quarterback. He can throw the football and can complete balls."

Russell was only sacked twice, but he didn't do anything stupid like throw the ball up for grabs or hold it loosely while running. Instead the sophomore quarterback played smart, impressive football.

He had no interceptions, and he found open receivers throughout the game, hitting a plethora of LSU wide outs, including Skyler Green, Early Doucet and Dwayne Bowe, who had both touchdowns.

"I still have some minor mistakes I need to get rid of," Russell said, "once I get rid of them, then I'll have a great game."

Russell was poised in the pocket and was given plenty of time by his offensive lineman. When he was sacked, it took two or three defenders to bring the 6-foot-6, 252-pounder to the ground.

"If he throws the ball away a couple of times, then he just looks a little bit better," Miles said of his quarterback getting sacked those two times. "There's some things we need to improve with him."

Skyler Green and Russell hooked up eight times. Green gained 55 yards on those eight catches.

"We just wanted to get him the ball in space," Russell said of Green. "Skyler is a great guy, a good athlete. He makes a lot of people miss."

"Coach expects me, once I get the ball in my hands to make the big play," Green said. "I go out and do it and be the biggest play maker I can be for coach."

Most of Greens reception were on bubble screens. Russell said offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher found a weakness in how Mississippi State's defense set up. Russell followed through on his coaches' wishes and exploited State's weakness.

"We felt like Skyler needed a couple more touches in the game," Miles said. " And felt like their was advantages against the (MSU secondary). He (Green) is the guy we like to get the ball too, and he's deserving."

LSU's rushing game began poorly. The Tigers only had 68 rushing yards at half time and 36 of those were from one play. The Tigers depended on Russell in the early going, and he came through, completing 14 of 17 passing attempts in the first two stanzas.

Russell led a fiery, fluent LSU offense up and down the field. The Tiger offense, which scored only six points in the second half versus Tennessee, scored 20 points in just the third quarter on drives of 13 plays, three plays and the last of three plays.

"Because everybody else did their job," Russell said, when asked why he played so well. "By them doing their job it makes my job a lot easier: offensive line, running backs, receivers, everybody did their job."

Russell said practice this week, although it was a short one, contributed to his success on the field Saturday.

"Another week," he said. "We had another opportunity to get better at practice. So I felt a lot better."

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