MSU's Perkins eyes increased role
By DAVID BRANDT
AP Sports Writer
STARKVILLE, Miss. — LaDarius Perkins says he’s healthy and ready to be a big contributor for Mississippi State’s offense after a slow start to the season.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound senior is already one of the most prolific running backs in Bulldogs’ history, but he’s rushed for only 109 yards through the team’s first four games. That’s way off the pace to equal his 1,024 yards rushing in 2012.
“To be honest, it does get frustrating,” Perkins said. “But you just have to be patient. Just keep doing your job.”
There are multiple reasons for Perkins’ lack of production, including a nagging ankle injury that’s cut into his playing time. He’s had a chance to rest some over the past week because the Bulldogs haven’t played since a 62-7 victory over Troy on Sept. 21.
Now he’s hoping for a productive game on Saturday, when Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) hosts No. 10 LSU (4-1, 1-1) at Davis Wade Stadium. The Bulldogs have lost 13 straight games to LSU dating back to 1999.
A healthy Perkins would certainly give Mississippi State a better chance at ending that skid.
“It’s on my mind a lot,” Perkins said. “I can’t wait to get back in game mode.”
Perkins’ workload might also depend on which Mississippi State quarterback gets the most playing time. Coach Dan Mullen says sophomore Dak Prescott and senior Tyler Russell will likely split playing time against the Tigers.
Russell, who is primarily a pocket passer, was the team’s starting quarterback at the beginning of the season after throwing for 2,897 yards, 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2012, but he suffered a concussion against Oklahoma State in the season opener and hasn’t played since.
Prescott took over for Russell and has played very well, throwing for 709 yards, three touchdowns and one interception while also rushing for a team-high 215 yards and five touchdowns.
The more Russell plays, the more likely it is Perkins will see a heavy workload. Prescott — at 6-foot-2 and a powerful 230 pounds — is a talented runner and more likely to keep the ball instead of hand off.
Perkins says Mississippi State’s offense can be effective no matter who plays. Russell had a good game against LSU last season, completing 26 of 38 passes for 295 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Mullen said he wasn’t worried about Russell showing any rust against the Tigers.
“He’s played a lot of football,” Mullen said. “It’s one thing if he’s only played a couple games, but he’s been here for a while, he’s played a lot of football and he’s been in big games.”
LSU’s defense might be a little more vulnerable than in past years. The Tigers lost to Georgia 44-41 last week, giving up nearly 500 total yards in the process.
LSU coach Les Miles said there were some communication issues that caused those problems, and expected the defense to play better against Mississippi State.
LSU is playing back-to-back SEC road games for the first time since 2009.
“I think we’re confident in the things that we do, yet there are some things we need to get accomplished and be better at,” Miles said. “I think that will put us in the right frame of mind.”