Nobody can exactly say that Pat Shed’s competitive return to Starkville wasn’t individually positive.
The hometown boy, who starred at Starkville High under then-head coach Bill Lee and eventually take his game to East Mississippi Community College, finished with 69 yards on a career-high 16 carries in his first-ever game at Davis-Wade Stadium.
Shed, who said he had at least 30-40 present Saturday night to see him play, came into the contest second on the team in rushing with 317 yards and second on the team in catches with 18.
“He’s not a big guy but he’s shifty and kind of ran hard,” Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “They just did a better job blocking us than we did shedding blocks.”
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound tailback accounted for 227 all-purpose yards (69 rushing, 142 in returns and 16 receiving) in State’s 29-24 win over UAB Saturday night.
The Blazers offense rotated him among four running backs but also used his talents out of the wildcat formation by taking the football on a direct snap run attempt that converted one of UAB’s 16 first downs in the first 30 minutes of play.
The unfortunate aspect of Saturday’s contest is Shed may be most remembered for fumbling the final kickoff with his team down five points with less than 2 minutes left. State freshman Michael Carr, a four-star recruit from West Point High School, stripped Shed on the return and the ball was eventually recovered by Nickoe Whitley.
“It was good to come back to my hometown and play tonight,” Shed said. “I think I played pretty good overall but I really wish we could have pulled out the win.”
Coming into Saturday, Shed was fourth in Conference USA and 37th in the country in all-purpose yards by averaging 130.3 yards per game.
The 69 yards on the ground against State’s defense was his second-highest total of the season finishing behind a 96-yard performance on eight carries against Troy on Sept 18.
Injuries continue to mount for MSU
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen mentioned the lack of consistently displayed by his offense throughout the five-point victory Saturday night had much to do with missing key pieces with various nagging injuries.
Mississippi State entered the game with five starters from the 2010 season-opener (wide receiver Leon Berry, tailback Vick Ballard, center J.C. Brignone, guard Tobias Smith and tight end Marcus Green) on the sidelines with various nagging ailments.
Berry and Green are known to be gone after season-ending surgeries.
Ballard, Mississippi State’s leading rusher coming into Saturday with 516 yards and 11 touchdowns, was held out after suffering an ankle injury late in the 10-7 win at Florida. Saturday’s win over UAB represented the first game Ballard didn’t participate since arriving on the Starkville campus from Gulf Coast Community College.
“Vick was a guy that practiced on Thursday, was running great straight ahead but we were questioning his lateral movement,” Mullen said. “It was a judgement call. Before the game, they said that he could go. Instead of putting him at risk for missing more games as the season went on, we held him and hopefully that pays off.”
The most interesting injury concern for Mississippi State was the playing status of senior center J.C. Brignone as he sat out the game in Gainesville with an injury that team officials are calling a left knee sprain.
Brignone didn’t play a snap in the first half as Quentin Saulsberry once again moved over from guard but Brignone went to the coaching staff to request he get in the game at halftime.
“He said he was 100 precent,” Mullen said.
In the second half, State had only one of its six possessions end without points and the Bulldogs run game produced 271 yards on the ground on 53 carries.
“He just settled us down,” Mullen said. “Your starting center is the foundation of that offensive line. Everything goes through him.”