STARKVILLE • Joe Moorhead has tried to establish a “next man up” mentality since he was named Mississippi State’s head coach.
That next man has had to fill in quite a bit for the Bulldogs in the first two games.
Suspensions and multiple injuries along the offensive line caused depth issues in the opener. Four players remained suspended for the Southern Miss game on Saturday and left guard Dareuan Parker was unable to play due to a lower body injury.
Making matters worse, quarterback Tommy Stevens sustained an injury to his right arm with just over five minutes to go in the second quarter on Saturday and did not return.
“We didn’t flinch in the face of adversity,” Moorhead said.
True freshman Garrett Shrader finished out the game at quarterback completing 7 of 11 passes for 71 yards and rushing nine times for 16 yards in his collegiate debut.
“Next man mentality, next man up,” Shrader said. “That’s what we did and that’s how we played. We had a bunch of young guys making plays today. Lee (Witherspoon) coming in there and scored a touchdown. Martin (Emerson) with a pick. It was just a flash of the good stuff coming.”
All-American cornerback Cameron Dantzler also left the game with a lower body injury. Moorhead said Dantzler could have returned but was held out as a precaution.
Running back Kylin Hill was rolled up just before halftime and had to be helped to the locker room but returned to start the second half.
“It happens, it’s football,” Hill said. “It’s a contact sport. I went in, got looked at and was fine.”
Heart of a Champion
Tommy Champion started at left guard in Parker’s absence and defensive tackle James Jackson switched over to offense and snapped a majority of the game while Darryl Williams and Evans Wilkerson continue to heal up from injuries sustained in the opener.
“We’ve got to be like our mascot, we’ve got to be a dang bulldog,” Moorhead said. “We have to bow our neck, bow our back and just find a way to win every single week.”