MSU wide receiver Chad Bumphis (1) has been one of the seniors stepping up to make plays this season. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
It doesn't surprise Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen when Chad Bumphis, Chris Smith, Cameron Lawrence, Darius Slay or Johnthan Banks make their presence felt on the field.
Mullen said those seniors have put in the work for the Bulldogs over the years and know how to lay it on the line when necessary.
"When it comes time to make a play, our guys are stepping up and making plays to win football games for us," Mullen said during Wednesday's Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference. " In the past at times when adversity hit, people would look around to see who would make the play. Now when adversity seems to hit, a lot of our seniors are stepping up and making the plays."
Senior receivers Bumphis and Smith lead MSU in receptions with 10 each, while Bumphis has the most yards receiving with 236 and Smith is second with 132. Bumphis had five touchdown catches for the Bulldogs and tight end Marcus Green, another senior, has three scores.
Senior linebacker Cameron Lawrence has the most tackles for the State defense with 26. Slay has the most interceptions and Banks, a former East Webster player, chips in two thefts.
The Bulldogs have a 3-0 record and became ranked at No. 23 by The Associated Press and USA Today polls this week.
For success to continue this season, Mullen said the leaders of the team must continue to play well as they have the first three weeks.
"That's what I've seen the first couple of weeks, but obviously, we need that to happen a lot more throughout the rest of the year," Mullen said.
Bulletin board material?
Mullen says he doesn't take the time to read up on most preseason predictions and where Mississippi State ranks.
So when the Bulldogs were picked to finish sixth in the seven team SEC Western Division, it didn't bother Mullen very much.
The things that Mullen believes causes more bulletin board material than anything else is when people from the outside rate position groups.
"There's some of that stuff that goes up," Mullen said. "It's more about where people rank our position groups where we are supposed to have the 11th worst linebackers. They put that up for the linebackers and (the coaches) say, 'hey you've got to prove you are better than what they say you are.' I think we use that more than the overall team stuff."
Wildcat against Jaguars?
Mississippi State has the wildcat package in place to be used at certain times of the game.
The wildcat formation has a particular player that comes into the game for a play or two for the starting quarterback, takes a direct snap from center from the shotgun and tries to make a play mainly with his feet.
Bumphis and sophomore Jameon Lewis have been the primary players used in that role this season for the Bulldogs.
Mullen wants to use the wildcat more in games, but also wants it to be effective.
"We haven't looked smooth doing it, but we do it in practice," Mullen said. "In games, we haven't looked as great. We have that package in and most of the time, it's how the game goes and it's something we want to use with both of those guys and something we want to carry with us."
Plan for Prescott
Even though redshirt freshman backup quarterback Dak Prescott did not play in last Saturday's 30-24 victory over Troy, it's the plan to get him into as many situations as possible for him to develop confidence.
Mullen said it was his fault that Prescott didn't get an opportunity against Troy.
"Last week, we had the package where we wanted to get him in and get him some snaps," Mullen said. "We wanted to force feed some snaps and we didn't do it last week. That's on me a lot as far as putting him in games, get him some reps and some confidence. We want to put him in like we did the first two games. We have that package and every game, I want to use it so we can continue to develop his confidence."
Prescott has thrown four passes and completed one for 8 yards. He has rushed four times for 10 yards.
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