Mississippi State will play a day game for just the third time in the 2001 season when Kentucky comes to campus. Four of the team's first six games this season were played under the lights. Conversely, the Bulldogs played nine of their 12 games last fall during the daylight hours.
NO NETWORK CAMERAS THIS WEEKEND
For just the second time since last November's game with Arkansas, the Bulldogs will not play before network cameras when Kentucky comes to Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. This will be just the eighth time in the last three years that the Bulldogs have not played on some network television. Being out of the network eye has not bothered the Bulldogs, however, as State has won five of its last seven non-televised games.
DOGS OWN CURRENT BOWL WIN STREAK
Mississippi State is the only school in the SEC West with back-to-back postseason bowl wins the past two seasons. Only Eastern Division league member Georgia and MSU have current bowl winning streaks of more than one game.
STATE IS A WINNER IN NOVEMBER
Since assuming the head coaching position at State in 1991, Jackie Sherrill's teams are 19-16-1 (.542) in the month of November. State has won seven of its most recent 12 games during the month. Bulldog teams recently completed the month of October with a 21-17-1 (.551) mark, but an impressive 9-6 in that month during the past four seasons. Sherrill's teams have now finished the months of August and September with a 26-15 (.634) mark since 1991, including wins in 12 of their last 16 games during those two months.
HAGGAN RETURNS FROM SIDELINES
Mississippi State junior Mario Haggan, who led the SEC and tied for eighth nationally in tackles last fall with 132 total stops (12.0 per game) while playing the lone linebacker position on State's defense, celebrated for the second time this season his return to the inside linebacker position at which he starred in 2000. He tied for the team lead with 10 tackles against LSU, a total that included one tackle for loss (minus 3 yards). Haggan was also credited with pressuring Tiger QB Rohan Davey once. The performance was the second double-digit tackle game of his junior season, the ninth of his career, and came one week after being sidelined with an ankle sprain. He had sat out the Troy State contest with that ankle malady, an injury incurred during MSU's game at Auburn. The injury and subsequent recovery time interrupted what had been a successful return to that position. Haggan, who made a position move to defensive end in State's season-opening win over Memphis, totaled 10 tackles at Auburn, the first double-digit tackle performance of his junior season but the eighth of his career. Haggan, who last year also accumulated 10 tackles for loss, five of which were sacks, recorded two tackles for loss (minus 6 yards) against AU. Playing the defensive end (or outside linebacker) position, Haggan totaled six tackles in the win over Memphis, a total that included a quarterback sack (minus 6 yards). Against South Carolina, he tied for the team lead with nine hits and pressured the Gamecock QB twice. At Florida, he made eight stops and recorded a pair of pass pressures.
MILLER ALSO RETURNS, LIMITED BY ANKLE
Another Bulldog who has earned substantial preseason all-star attention is Dicenzo Miller, who wasted little time starting the 2001 season the way he closed his 2000 edition. Miller rushed 12 times for 108 yards, a nifty 9.0-yard per carry average, and one touchdown on the ground in MSU's win over Memphis. It was his seventh career, 100-yard rushing game. He also had two receptions for 59 yards and another score. Miller opened the South Carolina game in much the same fashion, rushing five times for 25 yards and hauling in two passes for 46 yards on State's first offensive possession against the Gamecocks. From that point forward, however, he was limited to six carries (6 yards) and two receptions (18 yards) by a high ankle sprain sustained on the Bulldogs' game-opening drive. The injury forced him to miss the Florida game. Miller returned, however, at Auburn, but was obviously limited by the injury. He rushed 11 times for just 31 yards against the Tigers. But for the second time in three weeks, Miller again fell victim to that same ankle ailment. He missed all practice work prior to the Troy State game and sat out the homecoming game against the Trojans. Miller returned against LSU, State's most recent outing, and led the team with 50 yards rushing on 15 carries and had three receptions for 72 yards.
STEPHENS' FAST START SLOWED BY ANKLE
Mississippi State senior defensive end Conner Stephens joined Miller and Haggan on the injury list during the Bulldogs' game with Troy State and the injury limited his play against LSU. Stephens suffered an ankle sprain in the second quarter of the TSU contest and never returned to the State line-up. He had made a pair of hits during the early going against the Trojans. He returned to the starting line-up against LSU, but was limited and eventually sidelined by the same ailment. Stephens made a pair of tackles and also recorded two pass pressures against the Tigers. Prior to the injury, however, Stephens had been off to a very fast start to his senior season. He produced a career-best game in the Bulldogs' season-opening win over Memphis. Stephens, a native of Ackerman, Miss., totaled a career-high 14 tackles against the Tigers, a number that includes a quarterback sack (minus 2 yards). He also was credited with pressuring the UM quarterback once. Stephens' 14 hits gave him his second career, double-digit tackle performance (10 vs. Kentucky, 1999). He followed up that game with another solid performance in Week 2 against South Carolina. Stephens made eight tackles, including one for loss (minus 1 yard), one pass deflection and one quarterback pressure. At Florida, he was held to six tackles, but led the club with three quarterback pressures and also recorded a pass deflection at the line of scrimmage. Stephens was coming off an Auburn game in which he had made nine tackles, including a quarterback sack (minus 5 yards).
MAWHINNEY SHINES VS. HOME-STATERS
Inside linebacker T.J. Mawhinney is another Bulldog trying to recover from injury. The Covington, La., native, has been hampered for the past few weeks by a bruise in the upper arm which had caused some nerve damage. Mawhinney, who made 20 tackles in State's first two games but only five in the next three weeks as he dealt with his injury, totaled 10 hits against LSU this past weekend. It was the second double-digit tackle game of his sophomore season.
KELLY CONTINUES TO BUILD ON HIS PLAY
Mississippi State sophomore defensive tackle Tommy Kelly had one of the top games of his young Bulldog career against Troy State and continues to progress on State's defensive line. The Jackson, Miss., native registered six tackles against TSU and recovered the first fumble of his career. He was also credited with a pass pressure and an interception caused. After opening the season with eight tackles in the Bulldogs' win over Memphis, and being held to one hit each in back-to-back games with South Carolina and Florida, he posted a season-best nine tackles at Auburn. In his most recent outing, Kelly made three tackles against LSU, including one hit behind the line of scrimmage (minus 2 yards).