Perkins Plans On Peaking When Season Resumes

For the previous two weeks he'd been asked how close, or closer, he was to being back at full strength. Saturday evening LaDarius Perkins was finally able to report the good news. "At the end of the game I felt like I was 100%"

Note, Perkins said at the end of the game. Not the start, not mid-way, but upon finishing Mississippi State's 21-20 win over Bowling Green. It's conceivable that walking off Scott Field with a victory, and the relief of avoiding a monstrous upset, lent the Bulldog running back a little more sense of physical relief.

The truth is Perkins wanted to put in a full game before offering evaluation of the ankle that has hobbled, often literally, the first half of his senior season. Giving reporters a 100% report was just what he'd hoped for.

"I felt pretty good," Perkins said. "I kept irritating it a little bit, but I kept going. And as I kept going it kept getting stronger and stronger." Now that might not make medical sense. But for an old ground-pounder and play-maker like Perkins hey, it was perfectly logical. The more he tested the ankle, the more often everything passed, the stronger he did indeed feel.

Perkins showed up stronger on the stat-sheet as well, with 83 yards on 16 rushes. That latter number matched the 16 totes against Oklahoma State on opening day when he first came up gimpy, but the output was better by 33 yards. Not only that but Perkins scored a touchdown this time, on a rather spectacular vaulting of both a Bulldog blocker and a Falcon defender to clear the goal line.

It was not only his first rushing touchdown of an injury-interrupted senior season; it was Perkins' first time to run the ball in, or over, in 51 long weeks. His last rushing touchdown had been on October 20, 2012 against Middle Tennessee State. That was a long, long time ‘tween TDs for a guy with Perkins' talents and touches in the Mississippi State system.

So no wonder Perkins was all smiles afterwards. "It felt real good. I came to the sideline and a lot of teammates came and talked to me about it. Like, you finally got in! But the main thing is that we won and that's the thing I was focused on."

His touchdown was one reason the Bulldogs did win, or just survive. Another Perkins carry just about sealed the outcome too. After a dramatic defensive stand got the ball back there was still 75 seconds on the clock with three timeouts for Bowling Green to use. The Falcons could have conceivably got the ball back with almost a minute to work with.

Perkins foiled it by breaking off a clutch 11-yard run that made BGSU burn the first stop at 1:08. "That was a key, a real big key to the game," he said. "I found a little hole, the O-line did a great job of blocking, I was able to get a first down and try to run the clock out."

It allowed State to play things safe on three more runs, by the sure-handed Perkins of course. Those tote did cut into his final average gain but this didn't faze an old Dog who understood the situation. Not until 0:12 did State have to snap again and QB Dak Prescott was able to run off all but three ticks with an uninterceptable throw into the end zone after scrambling around.

Perkins also caught four passes for 21 more yards in a well-rounded evening. "I thought Perk played pretty well," Coach Dan Mullen said.

Well enough to remind what has been missing from the Bulldog offense. Perkins did have some good moments the previous week with rushes of 28 and 32 yards against LSU, for 80 total on ten carries in the SEC contest. At that time he only rated himself "95%" at best, though only he and the trainers could really tell the difference.

"Just not quick enough hitting holes and stuff like that," Perkins said. "The ankle injury is hard to overcome real quick so it's mainly the quickness and hitting the holes like you should. You're not playing like you want because you're scared something might happen to it, and not playing 100%

But now the ranking running back thinks he is to that level. Even then Perkins doesn't expect to have the position and the plays all to himself when the season resumes next week against Kentucky. Josh Robinson has worked into the primary backup role in recent games, though alternate quarterback Prescott has been the leading rusher and WR Jameon Lewis is taking increased turns on reverses and end-arounds and such.

He may be a senior yet Perkins (55 rushes on the season, 271 yards) is content sharing the work and increasing the whole offense's play-making potential. "When all of us are rotating we can get the ball moving down the field more. And I'm glad those guys got in."

The Bulldogs returned to work today, with a short practice week in advance of an open Saturday. However it won't be the usual full bye-weekend, not with a looming Thursday evening game (6:30, Scott Field). Coaches and selected players will be available to media Wednesday after practice.

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