Mississippi State was without three players when the Bulldogs opened up the 2010 season against Memphis Saturday night.
Sources have confirmed sophomore linebacker Mike Hunt along with sophomore wide receivers Chris Smith and Shane McCardell were suspended for this week’s contest for an unspecified violation of team policy.
When asked specifically Monday if he was aware of any players that would be suspended for Saturday’s game against the Tigers for academic or disciplinary reasons, MSU head coach Dan Mullen deflected the question saying that news would be announced later in the week.
“There may be but we'll announce that on Saturday,” Mullen said during his media conference Monday.
Smith saw action last year in 10 games, earning two starts during his true freshman season. Smith was the only suspended player mentioned on MSU’s opening week depth chart that was released Monday morning.
McCardell, who confirmed to the Starkville Daily News last week he was making the transition from defensive end to wide receiver, has seen action in nine games, mainly on special teams in his Mississippi State career.
“I need for it to be as slow as it can so I can pick everything up,” McCardell said. “If I don’t play right away then I’ve got time to work with it. The coaching staff is doing the right thing by taking it slow.”
The 245-pounder from Beaumont, Texas, wasn’t expected to contribute right away in games at his new position according to the MSU coaching staff.
“It wouldn’t be fair to expect much out of him this year," Hudspeth said. "He just got here."
Hunt has played in only five career games in his MSU career with his contributions mostly on special teams after being rated the 63rd best safety prospect in the nation two years ago according to ESPN.com.
The start of something good
The Mississippi State coaching staff gave multiple players a chance at their first career starts Saturday night.
One of the debates for Mullen and company before the opening kickoff was whether to start Brandon Heavens or Chad Bumphis at one of the wide receiver positions. It turns out to not to have mattered much as the pair of sophomores became the first receiving duo to record 100-yard games in seven years.
“I still think we’re a young team,” Mullen said. “There was a lot of guys who got really some first action out there today and they responded. Hopefully they continue to play with some confidence going into the SEC schedule.”
Heavens, who had caught a total of seven passes in his MSU career before Saturday, recorded his two career touchdowns and ended the night with a team-high 112 yards.
“Tyler Russell and I would stay after practice and run routes all last year and this spring because one day we knew we’d have to contribute,” Heavens said.
Other notable first-time starters were a pair of redshirt freshmen in offensive guard Gabe Jackson and defensive end Johnathan McKenzie.
Jackson got the nod at right guard for a Bulldogs offensive line that gave up only one sack in 25 passing attempts.
McKenzie, a former Starkville Academy star and son of former MSU lettermen Duncan McKenzie, recorded three tackles and was involved early on one stop behind the line of scrimmage.
Wright has minor sprain of left ankle
Mullen confirmed senior outside linebacker K.J. Wright suffered “minor sprain” to his left ankle in the second quarter of Saturday’s game.
In about one and a half quarters Saturday, Wright finished with only one tackle and did not return to the field after sustaining the injury.
The Bulldogs head coach was informed at halftime by the MSU training staff that the 6-foot-4, 250-pound linebacker could’ve returned to the lineup in the second half, but with Mississippi State already up by 35 early in the
second half and an Auburn game less than five days away, the coaching staff decided against putting him back out.
“(The medical staff) came in and thought they could loosen him up and get him going in the second half,” Mullen said. “I assume he’ll be fine for Thursday.”