Carroll, who opened the Gardner-Webb win and alternated last Saturday at South Carolina, is back in the top-job with most recent starter Josh Riddell now out of the season following knee ligament surgery. In State's five games there have been three different starters, with junior Henig making the first three openings before breaking his throwing right hand at Auburn. The recovery has fallen on the faster side of the estimated 2-to-4 weeks projected back on September 15.
Henig was cleared to resume practice on Monday and has been throwing the ball for four days of drills, wearing gloves to protect a still-sensitive knuckle on the broken (middle) finger as well as the scar and stitches. Most of his work has been done out of a shotgun set, but Croom said Henig has taken some regular center-exchanges too. "He's doing fine, he says he's ready to go." So much so that Croom also settled one question.
"We're going to play him. I guess we've got to knock the dust off him and see what he can do. He'll play. But Wes is going to start and we're going to go from there." Certainly live action is a better way to get the dust off before next week when State returns to SEC play, hosting Tennessee. Still the priority is taking care of UAB right now and earning the fourth win of the season.
If Henig is set to play, the situation to-be-determined, what then of Chris Relf? Carroll's true-freshman classmate has yet to see action, preserving his redshirt status. He began this week as the #2 man when Henig's outlook was uncertain. Now? Everything depends on how the game plays out and what Carroll and Henig get done.
"I'll make a decision after I see (today's) film what I'm going to do with Relf," Croom said. "That's going to be the decision, where he is. Thing is, we've got to decide whether we're going to get him some playing time in case we have to use him down the road, or go with Mike and hold Chris and see what happens."
Clearly the staff would rather not have to use Relf at this point, the sixth game of the season. As Croom said, the rookie either plays this week or waits until 2008…barring further casualties to the active quarterback corps of course, something Mississippi State is all too familiar with. That is the source of Croom's indecision.
"Because if we play him now to get some experience and he should happen to get an injury he can still get a medical redshirt. Play him next week regardless of what happens it's over." As in the year's eligibility is lost even should Relf be put out by injury in the last six games.
INJURY UPDATE: Three Bulldog regulars will miss this game with injuries, having not practiced this week. DT LaMarcus Williams (foot), CB Chris Nance (hamstring), and CB Tay Bowser (knee procedure) are out for this weekend, though each should be available by the Tennessee game.
Also, HB Robert Elliott (ankle) and TE Marcus Green (groin) were in red-cross shirts again today, but neither was going to play this week or, now almost certainly, this freshman season.