In­jury sit­u­a­tions could im­pact MSU-LSU game

Starkville Daily News - - SPORTS - By JOEL COLE­MAN sports@starkvilledai­lynews.com

Who will play? Who can’t?

The an­swers to those two ques­tions might have a big im­pact on Satur­day’s highly-an­tic­i­pated matchup be­tween Mis­sis­sippi State and No. 12 LSU.

Both the Bull­dogs and Tigers have play­ers bat­tling in­jury sit­u­a­tions ahead of Satur­day’s game, but each team might be get­ting back closer to full strength once the lights come on at Davis Wade Sta­dium.

MSU head coach Dan Mullen noted Wed­nes­day on the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence coaches tele­con­fer­ence that Bull­dogs ju­nior wide re­ceiver Malik Dear, who has been out since the spring when he tore an ACL, was back on the prac­tice field this week and might make his sea­son de­but against the Tigers.

“He’s get­ting back into it and has done some in­di­vid­ual stuff,” Mullen said of Dear. “He even did a lit­tle bit of team things the other day. We’ll see how he pro­gresses. It’ll be ques­tion­able whether or not he plays this week and we’ll make that de­ci­sion prob­a­bly Fri­day or Satur­day morn­ing.”

The ad­di­tion of Dear back into the fold would only strengthen what has be­come a for­mi­da­ble group of MSU re­ceivers. When healthy, Dear is an of­fen­sive weapon for the Bull­dogs that can hurt op­po­nents in mul­ti­ple ways. The ver­sa­tile ath­lete has 481 to­tal yards re­ceiv­ing in his ca­reer and four touch­down catches. He has also rushed for 234 yards and two scores over the course of his fresh­man and sopho­more sea­sons.

On the other side, LSU head coach Ed Org­eron has con­firmed the Tigers will wel­come back one of its best de­fen­sive per­form­ers on Satur­day. Ju­nior linebacker Ar­den Key has missed the Tigers’ first two games this sea­son as he re­cov­ered from off­sea­son shoul­der surgery.

How­ever Org­eron said Key will start against the Bull­dogs, but just how much he’ll be able to play re­mains to be seen.

“We’ve got to wait and see what hap­pens,” Org­eron said. “To be hon­est with you, he was a lit­tle rusty (Tues­day at prac­tice). Ob­vi­ously he got all the reps with the first team. His foot­ball con­di­tion­ing is not where we want it to be right now, but I think he’s go­ing to get there.

“We’re go­ing to have to ro­tate him in the game. He can­not play a whole game right now. We feel good with K’Lavon Chais­son back­ing him up. (Key) will start. K’Lavon will back him up. I think we’ll be very strong there.”

While Key is back, the sta­tus of an­other big piece of LSU’s de­fense re­mains in ques­tion. Tigers de­fen­sive end Rashard Lawrence missed last week’s game against Chat­tanooga be­cause of an an­kle ail­ment. This came af­ter the sopho­more to­taled a ca­reer-best four tack­les and a half sack against BYU in the sea­son opener.

Lawrence has prac­ticed this week, but Org­eron says it’s un­likely Lawrence will be good to go against MSU.

“He’s very ques­tion­able,” Org­eron said of Lawrence. “I don’t think he’s go­ing to play. He can’t prac­tice full speed right now. I don’t know. It’s (the mid­dle of the week) al­ready. I don’t think he’s go­ing to play.”

No mat­ter who can play or who can’t, both Org­eron and Mullen are look­ing for­ward to Satur­day night.

It’s still early in the sea­son, but it’s never too soon to make a state­ment in the SEC.

“We ex­pect a great at­mos­phere and a great game and it’s a great way to kick off the con­fer­ence sched­ule,” Mullen said.

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