We do not know who will be Mississippi State’s starting quarterback when the Bulldogs take the field to play the University of Kentucky this Saturday in Starkville.
Tommy Stevens defeated Keytaon Thompson in the preseason quarterback competition. Both are dealing with what Joe Moorhead calls “upper-body” injuries. Stevens, a Penn State grad transfer, has been pulled in the middle of the last two games after experiencing pain in his throwing shoulder.
“It was way better yesterday and today heading into tomorrow than it was at this point last week,” Moorhead said during his weekly Monday press conference.
Obviously, Moorhead would prefer to not juggle two quarterbacks. It does not matter to Mark Stoops. Kentucky’s preparation will be the same if Stevens or Garrett Shrader is the first to line up under center.
“There’s really not much difference in what they do and how they call plays, how they run the offense. There’s really not much difference at all. Both of them are very effective at running the Q run game that they like to do. Both of them are throwing the ball well. It’s set up off of their power run game,” Stoops said. “Not much has changed.”
Stevens completed 7-of-15 passes for 100 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions before Shrader was forced into action against K-State. Playing in his second game, the true freshman completed only 4-of-12 passes for 51 yards, but he did run for 82 yards and a score. His longest run of the day nearly ended in disaster. Scrambling to keep the Bulldogs’ hopes alive, he leapt for the sticks on a fourth and 16. What resulted was absolutely incredible.
Somehow, Shrader transformed into a human helicopter and did not get hurt, but the Bulldogs still lost 31-24. Moorhead is lucky he at least has one option ready to roll if Stevens’ shoulder does not improve before Saturday’s 3 p.m. CT kickoff against Kentucky.