The Mississippi State Bulldogs find them selves in yet another quarterback controversy. From Tyson Lee and Chris Relf, and Chris Relf to Tyler Russell, and now Tyler Russell to Dak Prescott. The controversy that surrounds this key position is nothing new to Mississippi State fans, but this is perhaps the most controversial.
After leading the bulldogs to a 7-0 start last year, their best since 1999 under Coach Jackie Sherrill, and breaking 11 of the schools single season passing records, no one left the 2012 season with a doubt in their mind that Tyler Russell would be the starting quarterback for the 2013 season
After receiving a concussion in the season opener against #13 Oklahoma St. late in the third quarter, Dak Prescott was given his chance to prove himself. Finishing the game out just 7 of 17 for 89 yards with one interception and 6 carries for 9 yards, there still wasn't much question of who the starting quarterback would be once Russell was healthy.
The game against Alcorn the next week went no different than anyone expected, but going into the game against Auburn, a lot of people were weary how Prescott would hold up in his first conference game as a starter. Even though it was a heartbreaking loss Prescott kept the Bulldogs in the game until the last ten seconds, turning out 15 of 28 for 213 yards through the air and 22 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. It was after this game even though a loss fans really started the talk of who was better Dak Prescott or Tyler Russell?
The week leading up to the home gave against Troy many fans were remembering the struggle the Bulldogs had with the Trojans the year before. Although most fans were confident in the Bulldogs to pull off the win, all eyes were on Dak Prescott to see how he would perform against the Trojans. With a huge pick six to start the game by Jamerson Love, Prescott stepped onto the field looking very comfortable and calm and lead the bulldogs to a 62-7 victory over Troy, one no fan expected. Playing only a little over a half of football Dak Prescott finished the game with 13 of 21 for 233 yards and a touchdown throwing, 5 carries for 53 yards and two touchdowns, and one reception for a 36 yard touchdown thrown by Jameon Lewis. For most fans looking for a more exciting offense this game couldn't have gone better, with two players including Dak Prescott with a running, passing, and receiving touchdown.
Leaving this game I don't think there was any fan without the question in their mind, who is going to start against LSU? Following the game in the post game press conference, when asked Dan Mullen quickly said without even slight consideration "Tyler is our starting quarterback" "We plan on Tyler being the starter against LSU and going forward". Tuesday in an interview after practice Mullen again said, "That's still the plan" when asked about starting Tyler Russell. All though this could very well be a ploy by Dan Mullen to throw off LSU's preparation, these statements from Mullen have caused a lot of controversy, and for good reason.
On one had you have a senior quarterback who had a record setting year last year, and hasn't done anything to deserve getting benched, other than his untimely injury in the opening game. On the other hand you have a quarterback that has clearly found his grove, and his chemistry with the rest of the offense is on a level fans haven't seen in a while after a disappointing end to the 2012 season. Dan Mullen's offensive success in his career is without a doubt come from running an offense with a strong running quarterback, and he has had his most success at Mississippi State has come with a more mobile quarterback. With Dak being the future at quarterback for Mississippi State and off to the best start you can really ask for, but Tyler Russell being the senior more experienced quarterback with a little better ability to throw the ball, only time will tell who the real starter will be against LSU, and who will lead the Bulldog's offense through the rest of the season.