STARKVILLE • Who will be the starting quarterback for Mississippi State has been a trendy topic for most of the season – and this week is no different.
Coach Joe Moorhead will wait until later in the week before naming his starting signal caller – either senior Tommy Stevens or freshman Garrett Shrader – for Saturday’s game against fourth-ranked Alabama.
“The good news is that Garrett is back to being completely healthy,” Moorhead told reporters on Monday. “We went through practice (on Sunday) and both of the guys got reps. Tommy got most of the ones with the 1s and Garrett with the 2s. But we’re going to continue to progress it through and see how Garrett is coming along.”
Stevens resumed his role as the Bulldogs’ starting signal caller in a win over Arkansas two weeks ago with Shrader dealing with general health issues that week. Stevens completed 12 of 18 passes for 172 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while adding 74 rushing yards on 15 attempts.
It was Stevens’ first action since the first half of the Tennessee game and also the first time the former Penn State transfer has been healthy since sustaining a shoulder injury against Southern Miss on Sept. 7.
“The Arkansas game is first one where Tommy was completely healthy for quite a time,” Moorhead said. “Seeing him throw it accurately, create explosive plays and more than anything seeing him run the ball was good.”
Stevens has started six times this season with Shrader getting the nod in the other three contests.
Stevens has completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 687 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions while Shrader has hit on 55.1 percent of his throws for 1,022 yards, seven touchdowns and five picks.
“Their skill sets don’t differ that much,” Moorhead said. “Tommy, from an experience standpoint, has seen more things throughout the course of his career heading into a game with an opponent of this caliber. You can fall back a little on that experience whereas Garrett can probably do things a little different and unique with his feet from an improvisational standpoint. We’re going to need both of them like we have throughout the season.”