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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WCBI Sports) –Mississippi State’s 7-0 start last year was memorable. But just as remarkable was the sudden decline and the string of losses that followed.

(AP/Bruce Newman)

Head Coach Dan Mullen and his players talked about needing to recover from those losses when they happen this year Wednesday at the SEC media days.

“It’s not a matter of if you’re going to lose, it’s a matter of how you’re going to respond to that loss. To get yourself back on track is going to be critical. And i think that’s a lesson that I learned and our whole program learned last year,” Mullen said.

Senior quarterback Tyler Russell said the loss to Alabama shook the Bulldogs and caused them to lose focus.

“We got to a point in the year where we said that we couldn’t be beat. We took one loss and that kind of changed everything. So this year our focus is, it doesn’t matter if you lose one game, it doesn’t matter who you lose it to, you have to have the mental toughness to get back on that horse if you get knocked down and continue fighting,” Russell said.

All eyes will be on Russell. He steps into the spotlight again, starting for his second season. The team will go as he goes.

“For me, it’s just trying to understand that I am the leader, that all the pressure is on me. Coach Mullen will tell you ‘if Tyler doesn’t play well we probably won’t win a lot of games. If Tyler plays excellent we’ll win a lot of games.’ I’ll take that pressure and I take that with pride because I know I’m the leader of the team,” Russell said.

“He’s the guy. He’s our fifth-year senior quarterback. He knows there’s going to be a lot on his shoulders on this team. There’s a lot of young guys and some younger positions across the field, and he’s the guy we’re going to count on to lead us through the course of year,” Mullen said.

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