STARKVILLE • Mississippi State entered this year knowing that 10 players would miss a majority of the season as punishment from the NCAA for to their involvement in academic misconduct.
Making matters worse for the Bulldogs’ depth, especially on defense, has been a rash of season-ending injuries. Defensive linemen Fletcher Adams, Cameron Young and Allen Love have all been lost for the year along with cornerback Maurice Smitherman and most recently safety C.J. Morgan.
MSU coach Joe Moorhead will be as careful as he can from a substitution standpoint this week with FCS opponent Abilene Christian coming in.
“Going into the season with 10 guys already out and compounding that with the injuries throughout the season, I think we’ve got to do a really good job on two fronts this week,” Moorhead said. “One, with how we control the physicality at practice and making sure that we’re able to get to the game with the available bodies and then seeing how the course of the game plays out.
“You don’t want to put the cart before the horse but if there is a situation where you can get in some of the reserves or younger guys at the latter stages of the game, that would be a positive. Certainly, we’re not counting on that but if the situation warrants or dictates, you’d love for that to happen.”
The Bulldogs did get good news on the offensive side as both running back Kylin Hill and wide receiver Deddrick Thomas both returned to practice on Sunday. Hill (upper body) and Thomas (lower body) were both injured in the second half against Alabama and did not return to the game.
FRESHMEN MAY PLAY
Some of those substitutions this Saturday could include true freshmen.
Moorhead met with his true freshman class following Sunday’s practice and informed several of them to be ready to play this week.
“The ones who have games available, if the game dictates – in particular on special teams – we’re going to try to get those guys some game experience,” Moorhead said.
Cornerbacks Martin Emerson Jr. and Jarrian Jones, safety Collin Duncan, quarterback Garrett Shrader, defensive tackle Nathan Pickering and running back Lee Witherspoon have already exceeded four games this season and are not eligible to redshirt this year.
Safety J.P. Purvis is already at the four-game threshold while offensive linemen Charles Cross (three games) and Nick Pendley (one game) are under.
BACK IN BLACK
Mississippi State will wear special black uniforms on Saturday for homecoming.
The Bulldogs will don black jerseys and black pants that acknowledge the T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability on campus.
The color-shifting stripes on MSU’s jersey and pants have graphics replicating a computer’s circuit board.
The Bulldogs are one of seven teams that will wear Adidas “Selfless” uniforms this season. All proceeds from the sale of State’s replica jerseys will go to the T.K. Martin Center.