Mullen left himself lots of room for interpretation all along calling both triggermen starters. Since most of the media questions involved Russell and the coach would say "he's our starter" it was natural to assume he had first dibs on LSU's defensive. Then when Prescott took all the first snaps in warmups it was clear(er) that he was going to do the same with the clock running…though the announced lineup did not even include a quarterback at all!
Mullen wasn't playing games, really. "As the week went on in practice that became the plan. We always have a plan. A lot of it is determined what happens in practice, the plan was to play both of them." But somebody had to be first, and it was Prescott.
"I think that was a little bit before the game," said the quarterback afterwards.
Mullen's plan, it turned out, was subject to adjustment. Or tweaks as he called it. "We were going to play Dak the first series and Tyler the second series. Dak only played three plays and we scored, so we went Dak again to get a couple of plays under his belt."
Prescott was productive in those plays and the first half, rushing for one touchdown and setting up a field goal drive. But Russell's return to action was more impressive as he tossed lovely touchdowns of 20 and 59 yards, as sharp as anything his LSU counterpart did all evening.
"He did a nice job too," Mullen said. "The important (part) of that was getting both involved in the flow of the game and Tyler hasn't played a lot and we needed to get him in the flow of the game. Dak's been playing well so we have to keep him in the flow of the game." Though interestingly, Prescott handled all 17 snaps in two third-quarter series. Neither reached the end zone as State was 1-of-2 on field goals, and Prescott was intercepted on the first four-quarter turn in the game-breaking moment to Mullen.
The statistics (see game story) were matched closely enough allowing for total snaps that neither came away with a clear edge. Nor was Mullen looking for it. "I felt good with both of them," he said. "I think they both played well. There's some things they're going to look at that we can improve on. We missed a couple of throws, Tyler on the fourth down (fourth quarter) just a little bit more juice on the ball, Dak's feet on that interception got a little bit messed-up. But those are things we can correct."
Russell has not talked to media since his injury. Prescott was one of three players made available after this game and said the two-quarterback system can and will work. "Just having confidence in each other and supporting the other guy when he's in there and backing him up every play, and letting him know what you saw when he gets off the field."
Or as Mullen said Saturday night, "It's good having two starting quarterbacks."
MAKING HIS MARK: In the process, Russell finally set the record he's been on the verge on since last November. His two scoring passes first tied, and then broke the Mississippi State mark that Derrick Taite had held since 1996 with 38. Russell now stands alone in first place with 39 touchdowns tossed.
Russell has had a hand in 42 career touchdowns, running or throwing, which ties him with John Bond (1980-83) in third place.
CHART CLIMBING: At Auburn, S Nickoe Whitley had the first two-interception game of his career. Last night the senior got his hands under a floated screen-pass for another pick. That gave Whitley 13 in his career, and in second place on the MSU all-time list. Ironically one of the two Dogs who share the mark was in the house as Johnthan Banks had an open date from his NFL duties. Banks and Walt Harris (1992-95) both intercepted 16 balls in their careers.
Whitley was also team-leading tackler with eight. He's totaled 14 tackles in his two SEC games so far.
BIG PLAY DOG: Two weeks after making his own SEC history with a touchdown trifecta (rushing, receiving, passing), WR Jameon Lewis added another six-pointer to his season total. His 20-yard catch from Russell was the junior's fifth score of the season.
Lewis came away with seven catches for 111 yards, both career-bests. All of 2012 he had just ten catches for 108 yards. And he added 90 return yards, 46 of it on one kickoff.
FAST FROSH: De'Runnya Wilson was one of the impressive freshmen in preseason camp, sufficiently so to be activated on opening day with a pair of catches. Wilson slid from sight the last two games, with no catches, but Saturday he broke out in a bigger way.
It was Wilson's big block downfield that cleared Prescott's way for the first Bulldog touchdown. Midway of the second quarter, Wilson was battling a Tiger defender down the sideline for front position. He used his 6-5 height and long arms to reach for Russell's fine throw, and applied the physical skills honed as a basketball player to make the catch in contact too. Not only that but coming down with the ‘rebound' Wilson kept his footing and ran into the end zone for the 59-yard play.
Wilson added another 21-yard gainer in his SEC coming-out party.
HITS, AND A MISS: PK Devon Bell came close to a perfect evening on the job. He knocked through field goals of 35 and 22 yards, while hitting all his six kickoffs into the end zone. LSU wasn't giving the Dog the touchbacks though as they returned the last five anyway. Still Bell now has 14 touchbacks in five games, compared to 13 all of his freshman season.
But the sophomore wasn't unscathed. His third-quarter attempt from 42 yards had the leg but wobbled wide at the end. Bell is now 5-of-9 on the season.
OH-FOR-TWO: In the SEC opener, Mississippi State followed up their first touchdown by going for two points. The play was from a standard offense set and a rush, stopped short.
Now on the home field, the Bulldogs tried it again against a different Tiger team following a touchdown that cut the score to 7-6. This time though it was in a spread-out formation typically shown before everyone re-forms for a PAT kick. After looking over the defense for several seconds, Prescott called the hike and threw. Incomplete.
Though it looked like a read, Mullen said it was called all along. "That was decided Thursday. That's something we like to do, just to mix it up. You're in a big game against a great team, we're trying to sneak in an extra point right there. I'll look on the film but it looks like we had a guy wide, wide open and we just didn't execute the play."
MISSING MAN: On LSU's first touchdown, a three-yard quick-pitch, State was playing without MLB Benardrick McKinney. He had to go to the sideline after his helmet came off the previous play.
MSU-ELLANEOUS: In both his SEC starts, Prescott has topped 100 rushing yards. He had 133 at Auburn, and 103 against LSU…DT Chris Jones recorded his first college sack with a 10-yard bagging in the second period…OG Gabe Jackson made his 44th-consecutive start, tying the record for a Mullen Bulldog (Banks, 2009-12)…P Baker Swedenburg kicked just once all evening, a 42-yarder. In the previous game State never punted at all…The crowd of 57,113 was fifth-largest ever at Davis Wade Stadium…State's losing streak in this series reached 13games, though the 26 Bulldog points were the most in any of the defeats except in the overtime game of 2000, with 38 points…The 59 Tiger points were the most allowed by a Bulldog defense since Tennessee scored 59 in Knoxville in 2003.