The Mississippi State Bulldogs are rested and ready to hit the road coming off a bye week.
The Kentucky Wildcats will be anxiously waiting in Lexington, Ky. on Saturday in search of their first Southeastern Conference win of the season.
Mississippi State on the other hand will look to build upon its 4-0 start to the season and reach the 5-0 mark for only the fourth time in program history.
MSU head coach Dan Mullen was pleased the bye week came in the middle of the season when you consider the first day of fall camp as the start to the season. He was also relatively happy with the health of his players as they gear up for the final eight weeks of the regular season.
“Our guys hopefully are rested, ready to go, come back and get back to work (Monday) afternoon for practice," Mullen said. "We’re pretty much status quo with the injuries."
Mullen said that defensive back Cedric Jiles is probably doubtful with the broken hand and it will take a couple more weeks before the staff knows more about his injury.
Tight end Malcolm Johnson and offensive lineman Tobias Smith have the status of questionable, while defensive lineman Devin Jones will be questionable with the shoulder he hurt at the Wednesday practice right before the last game.
On the road in the SEC
The Bulldogs faced the Trojans of Troy earlier this season for the first road test of the 2012 campaign.
This week, MSU faces a conference foe away from Davis Wade Stadium for the first time this season.
“The first SEC road game should be a challenge for our guys,” Mullen said. “Obviously, we’re playing a team that has got some talent. They played with a lot of emotion in the first half (against South Carolina). They played really well, made a bunch of plays and had a good halftime lead on the No. 6 team in the country. We’re going to have our hands full going up there at their place. It will be a big game.”
Johnson back in the mix
Mississippi State has been playing without its star tight end Malcolm Johnson through the first four games of the season as he was out with a pectoral injury.
The sophomore is back on the practice field and is expected to see his first action of the season on Saturday.
“It’s huge," Mullen said about Johnson's possible availability. "I mean we’ve got to see what he can do. He hasn’t done any live stuff yet, so he still has some recovery time left and the adaptation time to get back in it.
"He hasn’t played any football since last April, so I think it will be a slower process. It’s not like he can get back in there and go. Basically his training camp has started now and everybody else is half-way through the season. It’s huge for us because he is a playmaker and tough to match up on.”
MSU looking for fast start
This season Mississippi State has done an excellent job of answering when the opposition puts points on the board.
Through four games, the Bulldogs have trailed less than 10 total minutes and that’s a trend Mullen would like to continue on Saturday.
"Any time you're on the road, you want to start off fast," Mullen said. "If you can start off fast, you have the opportunity to take some of the emotion out of the stadium at that point and try to control the home field advantage a little bit.
“Any time you're on the road in the SEC, though, you're going to play in tough environments.”