Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SEC Notebook; Emotional Time for Miss. State Players

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SEC Notebook; Emotional Time for Miss. State Players

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble

Mississippi State will have to deal with a lot of emotions when it plays its biggest game of the year against third-ranked Alabama.

Not only do the Bulldogs have a chance to stay alive in the SEC West, but they will play two days following a memorial service for teammate Keith Joseph Jr. The redshirt freshman defensive end and his father, Keith Joseph Sr., were killed in a single-car accident last Friday while they drove to a high school game.

Football can be the necessary escape players need most, coach Dan Mullen said.

"Unfortunately, through some experience, I think for all of these young men, football is their safe place," Mullen said. "For any problem our players are dealing with, when they step on the football field, that is when a lot of things disappear. They are getting to do what they love. I do think that for players it is a comforting, safe place to be when dealing with this situation."

Senior quarterback Dak Prescott said many players aren't sure how to react to their teammate's death.

"It's something I don't think any of us have been through. I know I haven't. It's hard," he said.

"It will be emotional. It's an emotional situation, but we can't let it be an obstacle. We have to do as Keith would do and go hard every day in practice and get better."

ARKANSAS' ALLEN SILENCES HIS CRITICS

A 1-3 start, including a 16-12 home loss to Toledo, had Arkansas fans howling on sports radio and social media for a change at quarterback.

A three-game winning streak stopped all that.

Brandon Allen not only directed the 5-4 Razorbacks back to respectability, he's on pace to be one of the top quarterbacks in the country. His 442 passing yards and six touchdowns a week ago in a 53-52 overtime victory against Ole Miss were recognized by the NCAA and the Football Writers Association of America.

And as the top-rated quarterback in the SEC, Allen has silenced his critics.

"To play quarterback in this league, you better have thick skin," Allen told ESPN. "Fans want success immediately and they're going to be up and down. But as a quarterback, you can't ride through the highs and the lows. You have to keep an even keel, stay level-headed and stay within yourself, no matter what's going on around you."

Allen's 164.7 quarterback efficiency rating is tops in the SEC and ninth in the nation. He' also one of only six FBS quarterbacks with at least 20 touchdown passes and less than five interceptions this year.

Arkansas, which plays at LSU this Saturday, has averaged 56.7 points in its last three games.

AUBURN WAITING TO PICK STARTING QB

Although Sean White has been the starting quarterback for most of the season, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn hasn't decided whether White will return to the lineup after missing last week with an injury or continue with Jeremy Johnson's hot hand. …

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