Mississippi State Football – Year in Review: Quarterbacks

December 8, 2011

News, Sports

Initial Outlook: The quarterback position was the biggest topic for debate during the 2011 season. Three different quarterbacks — Tyler Russell, Chris Relf, and Dylan Favre — finished a game.  Mississippi State fans were asking the same question:  “When will State have a top shelf quarterback?”

2011 Assessments: I thought about putting all the quarterbacks together in one whole evaluation,  but I decided to break them down individually.

Chris Relf

Chris Relf

Chris Relf:  Relf was poised to have a monster senior season, but he faltered after a strong start to the season. He got benched during the fourth quarter of the LSU game, and he wasn’t the same the rest of the season. I was very harsh in my criticism of Mullen benching him. I felt Relf might lose his confidence, and he obviously did. Mullen made the wrong decision, but he should have been mentally tougher. I’m a big Relf fan, but even I know that. Relf did get back in the mix after Russell supplanted him. He had a solid finish to the season, leading the Bulldogs to victory in another Egg Bowl blowout versus Ole Miss.

Tyler Russell

Tyler Russell

Tyler Russell: Russell started off the season as the backup, but he took over for Relf during halftime of the UAB game. He led the Bulldogs to a comeback victory in that game. Russell took over as the Bulldog starter the next week versus South Carolina and had a solid performance. He rotated the next two games with Chris Relf, and they were a good combo. Relf drew the start against Alabama, but Russell played most of the game. He displayed some flashes during the game that had me saying for the first time he could be a big-time quarterback. He did struggle a bit in the next game against Arkansas though, and he was replaced by Dylan Favre.  He had mop-up duty in the Ole Miss game.  Russell showed maturity during the 2011 season, and I felt confident in him for the first time in his career.

Dylan Favre

Dylan Favre

Dylan Favre: Favre saw more action off the field early in the 2011 season. He was suspended for the first game, and complained about not playing against LSU. He got a chance to see his first snaps versus Georgia. He didn’t really see significant action at quarterback until the Alabama game, when he came in to run the Emory formation; it provided a spark for the offense.

Favre got his most meaningful playing time in the next game against Arkansas. He ran the red zone package in the first half and scored on a zone read. He then played most of the second half and went 5-12 with a passing touchdown late to Malcolm Johnson. I was very impressed with him during this game. He showed tremendous pocket presence, elusiveness, and the necessary swagger needed from a quarterback.  He may be small, but I feel he has the pure intangibles to win in the SEC.

Most were unhappy with the inconsistency at the quarterback position, but they ended up with a combined 18 passing touchdowns and 2,225 yards.

2011 Grade: C

The Future

Scholarship Quarterbacks Remaining: Tyler Russell (Jr.), Dylan Favre (So.), Dak Prescott (Fr.)

2012 Targets: Anthony Alford (4 star), Jeremy Liggins ( 3 star)

Future Breakdown: The most important thing to the future of Mississippi State quarterbacks is who will be the offensive coordinator. I think this is critical to Tyler Russell, Dylan Favre, and Dak Prescott’s success in the next few years. Russell is in the toughest position, because the system currently constituted does not fit his skill set. The offense would need to be built around his ability to the throw the ball. The zone reads and option plays will have to be all but scrapped. Russell could be an elite SEC quarterback, but he must be put in the position to achieve that.

Dylan Favre is a subject of transfer rumors at the moment, but I will operate like he is still going to be on roster. I think Favre could be very successful as a MSU quarterback, and the system wouldn’t have to change with him at the helm. Mullen would have to allow Dylan to do his thing. The average coach doesn’t like to give a quarterback free rein, but he is good enough to be allowed to consider it.

Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott is “Mullen’s Quarterback” in my opinion. I’m not necessarily saying he will start, but he fits the mold of the perfect spread option quarterback. Prescott will have to battle for the job, but he is the most logical choice to lead the program going forward.

Mississippi State is currently recruiting two quarterbacks:  Anthony Alford and Jeremy Liggins. They don’t seem likely to get either, but Liggins seems like the most logical target.  He would be a good fit for the system, and he could play another position. The Bulldogs are likely to wait until 2013 to take another quarterback though.

I don’t know who “the future” is at quarterback, but I plan on evaluating them all during spring practice to get a better idea.

Future Position Standing: Good

Final Outlook: The quarterback position’s future may seem bleak to some, but I’m actually encouraged by the potential of the group. I think Russell, Favre, or Prescott is Mississippi State’s quarterback of the future. The question that remains to be answered is which quarterback will step up to the plate as the Field General.


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