HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - As many USM players will see fellow Mississippi natives on the Mississippi State sideline on Saturday, the Bulldogs’ quarterback is an unfamiliar face.
Senior Tommy Stevens made his first collegiate start in MSU’s 38-28 win over Louisiana-Lafayette after transferring from Penn State.
Southern Miss quickly realized what type of player it would be dealing with after Stevens completed 20 of 30 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ season-opener.
“I thought he played extremely well Saturday,” said USM head coach Jay Hopson. “He’s a multi-talented quarterback. He can run it, he can throw it. He kind of looks like Nick Fitzgerald back there with that 7 on, running around. We know he’s a really good football player and quarterbacks of that athletic capability make you work.”
“The thing I was impressed with is you could see the poise,” said USM defensive coordinator Tim Billings. “You could see he’s a fifth-year senior. It wasn’t a freshman out there starting, it wasn’t a guy that it’s his first start. He’s older and matured and you can tell. I was very impressed with how he grasped the offense.”
Stevens knows the State offense has its work cut for them as well on Saturday, welcoming the NCAA’s No. 3 defense from a year ago. The “Nasty Bunch” held Alcorn State to just 219 yards of offense in its 38-10 win.
“Feisty group, team that plays really hard,” Stevens said. “Well-coached, you can tell they kind of have a chip on their shoulder. They’re going to play hard for all four quarters. We’re definitely excited for the opportunity.”
USM and MSU’s 30th matchup kicks off at 2:30 p.m. in Starkville. The series is tied at 14-14-1.