October 3, 2012

Mullen talking Kentucky

Mississippi State is out of the gate with a 4-0 start to the season and has had two weeks to prepare for this week's opponent Kentucky.

The Bulldogs are hoping to begin the season unblemished through five games for just the fourth time in school history with the last coming in 1999. MSU also has the seventh longest active winning streak in the country with six straight victories dating back to the Egg Bowl last season.

"Coming off the bye week we've had the opportunity to get a little rest," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "Sometimes bye weeks helps and sometimes hurt. I guess we'll find out on Saturday which one of the two it is for us. But our guys have gotten back into the routine of game week and are getting ready to get back on the field and play an SEC game."

The Wildcats present quite a challenge for State offensively. Kentucky lost starting quarterback Maxwell Smith due to an ankle injury and will now be limited to a pair of true freshman signal callers in Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles.

Whitlow has appeared in three games this season completing 13-of-29 passing for 126 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. His most significant time came last week against South Carolina.

Towles was expected to redshirt this fall but is now pressed into action. The former Gatorade Player of the Year in Kentucky and four-star prospect threw for 3,820 yards, 42 touchdowns and only one interception as a senior in 2011. He was coached in high school by former UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen and is the grandson of MLB Hall of Fame pitcher and U.S. Senator Jim Bunning.

"It's still a challenge because they throw the ball all over the place," Mullen said. "You got to see the kid (Whitlow) throw the football last week and he threw it pretty well in the game. I've seen the Towles kid's high school film and he can really throw it. It's still a big challenge especially with a team that schematically wants to throw the football and have talented guys throwing it. Even though they don't have experience, they still have talent."

To combat the unknowns behind center for the Wildcats, Mullen will rely on senior cornerbacks [db]Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay. That duo has picked off seven passes already through the first four games helping State rank first in the nation in turnover margin at +12.

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