Conner Sidelined, Rutland Done With Injuries

Mississippi State lost more than a game Saturday. The Bulldogs will probably be without a couple of their starting quarterbacks for the rest of the season after second-half injuries to both Omarr Conner and Tray Rutland in the West Virginia game.

Conner, the starter for the last three contests, was diagnosed Sunday with a grade-three (the most severe) groin strain. According to MSU officials, Conner is out for at least several weeks now and could potentially miss the rest of his senior season.

Meanwhile Tray Rutland, on the field for only one snap, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligamemt and a partially-torn medial collateral ligament when he was sacked late in the fourth quarter. Rutland, a two-game starter, is definitely out for the rest of this year. Conner was hurt at 6:42 of the third quarter when he was dragged down from behind when forced to scramble on a 3rd-and-18 play. "I heard it pop," he said in the postgame interviews.

Conner, a nine-game starting quarterback in 2004 and seven-game starter in '05, began this season as a starting wide receiver. He was brought back under-center in the third quarter against Tulane after Tray Rutland, himself a replacement for injured season-opening triggerman Mike Henig broke his collarbone, struggled in his second college start and third game. Conner led the Dogs to their only win so far, scoring the game-ending touchdown in overtime at UAB on a 21-yard keeper.

Conner has had previous injury issues while playing quarterback. In 2004 he suffered a knee sprain at LSU that kept him out of two games, both Bulldog losses. During his three games last season and two-plus this year as a wide receiver he avoided getting hurt.

Rutland was sent in Saturday at 2:55 of the fourth quarter to finish the game. He was sacked on the first play for a 8-yard loss and injured in the process. Rutland was 20-of-47 passing in the four previous games he had played, for 151 yards with four interceptions and no touchdowns.

This puts Henig back in the role he ended last season and began this one, as the starting quarterback. The third-year soph was shaken up on the very first play of the South Carolina game and had his left collarbone broken in the second quarter. Henig had already rushed to return to health for this season after breaking a toe in late June in a fluke home accident.

Redshirt freshman Ty Evans, the #3 man in spring and August camps, is now the only scholarship backup to Henig. Walk-on Robert Ambers, who has worked with the scout offense, is a likely third man on the depth chart.

Coach Sylvester Croom will discuss the quarterback situation Monday morning in his weekly teleconference.

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