Bulldog Scouting Notebook-Nov 28

The Game: Mississippi State (5-6, 2-5 SEC) concludes the regular season and plays for the post-season by hosting Ole Miss (7-4, 3-4 SEC) in the annual ‘Battle for the Golden Egg'. Kickoff at Scott Field is 6:31. The pregame broadcast begins locally at 3:30, and the MSU Network joins at 4:30.

*Mississippi State must win the regular-season finale to qualify for post-season play. The Bulldogs are seeking bowl eligibility for a program-record fourth consecutive season.

*Since the Battle for the Golden Egg returned to campus for the 1991 season, Mississippi State has a 12-10 record in the rivalry. By contrast Bulldog teams were just 6-12 when the series was played in Jackson.

*State is 4-2 on the home field this season, 1-2 against SEC guests.

*State has won the last four Egg Bowls played at Scott Field, and six of the last seven home meetings.

*Dan Mullen is 3-1 in Egg Bowls, after becoming the first Bulldog coach since Allyn McKeen in 1939-41 to win his first three of these rivalry games.

*Only one Mississippi State coach has won his fifth Egg Bowl game; Bob Tyler, in 1977.

*Mullen is 6-20 against SEC West opponents, but 5-4 when playing an unranked Division foe.

*No Egg Bowl has gone into overtime since the NCAA instituted extra period play.

TEAM NOTES: Officially, injuries have sidelined 13 Bulldogs for at least one game this season and a total of 86 games; though a quarter of the ‘missed' games belong to redshirt freshman DT Jordan Washington who has yet to play at State; and graduate assistant offensive lineman Tobias Smith who also hasn't played in his NCAA-granted sixth season.

*There are ten scholarship-signed seniors on the MSU roster playing their final home game, eight of them in the unofficial two-deep. Six of these were in Mullen's 2009 recruiting class.

*The 2013 team is on pace to reset season the season offensive-yardage record, averaging 438 this year. The mark of 422 was set by the 1982 Bulldogs.

*By earning a bowl bid these Dogs can try to surpass the season touchdowns record of 48 set in 2010. This team has 40 touchdowns so far.

*This Bulldog offense has already scored more rushing touchdowns in eleven games than last year's team did in 13, by a 24 to 18 difference.

*The best quarter for Bulldogs is the second, with a 113 to 57 edge in scoring. Their worst? The third period, 44 points to 74.

*Mississippi State had a bad day at South Carolina in turnover terms. But in the three league games-since the Bulldogs have recovered or intercepted ten balls with just four lost. And the four total lost fumbles for the season by MSU is fewest of any SEC squad.

*State has only allowed five sacks in the last four games.

*For the full season though the Dogs are just 12th in SEC red zone offense, scoring on 34 of 44 chances. Just 27 of those were touchdowns, and in the red zone MSU placekickers are only 7-of-14.

*State is the only SEC team under 50% on field goals, at 8-of-18 all year.

*The Dog defense is last in red-zone stops too, allowing points on 31 of 35 such chances with 24 touchdowns.

*MSU's 14 sacks on defense are second-fewest in the league ahead of only Tennessee's 13.

*A MSU-Mullen streak is in danger, as in each of the previous four seasons State has returned some sort of kicking play for a touchdown. They were on kickoffs in 2009, '10, and '12; and twice on punts in 2011.

PLAYER NOTES: Senior LG Gabe Jackson was honored this week as recipient of the inaugural Kent Hull Trophy, given to the best offensive lineman from Mississippi's four-year college programs. Hull was the MSU center from 1979-82, and an All-Pro center in his long NFL career.

*Jackson is also Mississippi State's nominee for the state's top overall player, to be awarded next week.

*Jackson is scheduled for his 51st career start Thursday, every game of his varsity tenure. That will tie injured Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray for the active NCAA lead.

*One of this year's rushing touchdowns came on a fumble at the goal line recovered by OT Charles Siddoway, against Alabama. He joins Jackson (2010, Auburn) as Bulldog linemen with a touchdown to their career credit.

*Jackson is the only current Dog with starts in the three previous Egg Bowls.

*P Baker Swedenburg has averaged 42.2 yards in his two Egg Bowls.

*For his senior season Swedenburg is averaging a career-best 42.5 yards punting

*He has the ninth-most punt in MSU history and eighth-most yards; but his 41.65 career average ranks him #5 all-time at State.

*With both veteran quarterbacks injured, Mississippi State is preparing to give a true freshman the starting assignment. First-year freshmen have started Egg Bowls for State and won (John Bond 1980, Wesley Carroll 2007 for examples), but they had started other games in the season. Damian Williams has played in four games this rookie season as a substitute.

*Senior RB LaDarius Perkins has enjoyed his Egg Bowl history. In three games he has rushed for 207 yards and a touchdown; caught nine passes for 183 yards and three scores; and with kick returns accounted for 466 total yards.

*Perkins now stands an under-appreciated #6 in MSU career rushing with 2,502 yards.

*And he is #2 in career all-purpose yards now, with 4,181 behind only Dixon's 4,443.

*In the last half of his last season Perkins has been a consistent threat in the passing game with 18 catches in six games for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

*On his score at Arkansas he bruised his ribs and hurt a hand and missed the whole second half. That ended a six-game stretch of double-digit carries after Perkins' return from an ankle sprain.

*Senior OLB Deontae Skinner has 17 total tackles in three Egg Bowls.

*QB Tyler Russell is questionable for Thursday after a second shoulder injury in as many weeks. He was 18-of-28 for 263 yards and two touchdowns against Arkansas, the best game of his three-times interrupted senior season so far.

*In that game Russell jumped two spots in career yardage and now ranks #3 in MSU history with 5,441 yards. He is also third in completions with 410.

*The irony is despite a week-one concussion, week-seven ankle sprain, and shoulder separations in weeks ten and eleven, Russell is having the most efficient season of his career at 65.1% completions.

*Russell's ten 200-yard games at State is the second-best total ever by a Bulldog, behind three predecessors with 11; Tommy Pharr, Wayne Madkin, and Kevin Fant.

*The only Bulldog quarterback with 40 or more touchdown passes (42), Russell is responsible-for 45 total scores; one behind Anthony Dixon in career-second place at State with Don Smith's record of 52.

*A nerve injury suffered at Texas A&M has interrupted a run at history for QB Dak Prescott. His 722 rushing yards in nine games is just 18 short of Don Smith's 1986 record for MSU quarterbacks of 740 (eleven games).

*Because he has missed two entire games, Prescott is stuck on 19 total touchdowns this season; ten rushing, seven passing, and two receiving. He is still #5 in the SEC in scoring average, and taking out kickers he is #3.

*Before his fourth-quarter injury, Prescott was on a three game tear completing 65 of 103 passes for four scores. And in his last two games he averaged 7.5 yards per rush.

*Whether a starter, alternate, or substitute the sophomore has produced 27 touchdowns rushing, as well as a two-point conversion. With 393 career plays he has averaged points every 14.6 times he runs, throws, or catches.

*Not counting his two receiving scores, Prescott's 25 career TDs-responsible for are ten away from making the MSU top-ten. And he's almost half-way now to the career record of 52 set by Don Smith (1983-86).

*But in terms of efficiency, WR Jameon Lewis is the team and maybe league leader. He has rushed for three touchdowns, caught five touchdown passes, and three times thrown for a touchdown. That comes out to 11 scoring plays out of just 65 times touching the football on offense.

*He's handled the ball 34 times in return settings with no points though. Lewis did score on a 100-yard kickoff return in last year's Egg Bowl.

*Lewis is the only Dog with a reception in every game this season.

*All three of Lewis' passes have gone for touchdowns; twice to Prescott and once to WR Joe Morrow.

*Lewis and Prescott made SEC history as they both ran, caught, and threw a touchdown, against Troy. It was the first time in conference records a team had two players score the touchdown trifecta in the same game. The last time one Dog did so was in 1978, James Jones against Florida State.

*RB Josh Robinson took over for Perkins after halftime at Little Rock, and produced a career-high 101 yards (17 carries) in just two periods. His 5.5 yards per carry top Perkins' 4.4; though both trail Prescott's 6.5-yard rate when healthy.

*TE Malcolm Johnson has caught nine balls in the last two games, for 135 yards.

*Since his seven-catch, two-touchdown day at Texas A&M, WR De'Runnya Wilson has had just two catches for 20 yards in the last two outings.

*MLB Benardrick McKinney leads in team tackles with 61, though he's only had six stops in the last two games combined. McKinney had a five-game stretch of at least part of a tackle-for-loss snapped by Arkansas.

*Skinner returned to action after a two-game injury absence and has 53 tackles on the senior season.

*But it is FS Nickoe Whitley on an end-of-career tear tackling, with 19 stops in the last three games and a season-best ten against Arkansas.

*Whitley now has 224 career tackles, in his 45 games.

*Whitley still has a shot at history himself. He has 14 career interceptions, two shy of the program record shared by Walt Harris (1992-95) and former teammate Johnthan Banks (2009-12) at 16 apiece. Four of his picks have come this season.

*He is tied for the active NCAA lead in interceptions with two other players.

*CB Taveze Calhoun has three picks himself, all in the last two games. He intercepted a pair of Alabama passes; then sealed State's overtime victory at Arkansas with a fourth-down pick.

*Whitley, Calhoun, and CB Jamerson Love all have two-pick games this season.

*Freshman Chris Jones has played every defensive line position this season; both ends, both tackles, and nose tackle as well. Jones has two sacks and a unit-best nine quarterback hurries.

*DE Preston Smith holds the team lead in TFLs at 6.5.

*PK/KO/P Devon Bell has 23 touchbacks in 56 kickoffs this season, though wind last week forced pooch or rolled kickoffs. Only one of his kickoffs has gone out of bounds.

*Bell made his first field goal since October 5 with a 24-yarder last week. But a 28-yarder was blocked and his 42-yard try into the wind went wide right at the end of regulation. Bell is 6-of-14 for the season after making 14-of-21 attempts as a freshman.

*In five seasons, Mullen defenses have scored 11 touchdowns on either interceptions or fumble returns; and three safeties.

*State special teams have blocked one field goal (Whitley) and one punt (DT Nelson Adams) this season.

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