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Banged-up MSU hopes to heal fast

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
Oct. 28, 2003
STARKVILLE Mississippi State University is hurting and not just in the win-loss column.
The Bulldogs fell to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the Southeastern Conference, after a 42-17 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats (4-4, 1-3 SEC) last Saturday.
Even more distressful for MSU than another loss, the team has lost 23 of its last 31 games, was the number of players who left the Kentucky game with injuries.
Bulldogs cornerback Quinton Culberson broke his leg; offensive guard Will Rogers suffered a high-ankle sprain; and tight end Aaron Lumpkin was befallen by an ankle injured against Kentucky. Jared Cook missed some game time with a back injury.
Justin Jenkins, Blake Jones, Jerious Norwood and Johnny Wadley were also injured in the loss to the Wildcats.
MSU does expect to get a number of players back when the team takes on Alabama at home on Nov. 8, after an open date this week.
Sherrill said Jenkins, who leads the team in receiving yards with 761, received 16 stitches because of his helmet collision but is expected to practice this week. The Bulldogs also expect Jones, Whattley and Norwood to return to practice.
MSU's off-week couldn't have come at a better time for the team.
Along with giving the players' laundry list of injuries to heal, the Bulldogs can't work on correcting what went wrong against the Wildcats.
MSU jumped out to 17-0 lead and took a 17-7 advantage into halftime before coming unraveled in the game's final 30 minutes.
The Wildcats scored on an 80-yard drive to open the second half, and Wildcats return man Derek Abney, who scored on punt returns of 69 and 52 yards last year against the Bulldogs, entered the end zone on an 80-yard punt return just over five minutes into the half.
Abney scored again with a 53-yard touchdown reception near the end of the third quarter, and Kentucky notched two more touchdowns on short drives of 21 and 31 yards, following interceptions.
MSU's loss on Saturday was the second consecutive time the team has given up more than 40 points to an opponent, Auburn defeated the Bulldogs 45-13 on Oct. 18, and it was the fourth time this season the Bulldogs have surrendered more than 40 points.
Oregon defeated MSU 42-34 in the season opener, and Houston tallied a 42-35 win over the Bulldogs on Sept. 20.
Despite the loss, Sherrill said he is still happy with how hard his players have continued to work in another rough season.
The Bulldogs will practice Monday to Thursday this week, before taking the weekend off. The MSU-Alabama game will be televised by Jefferson-Pilot.