STARKVILLE — For the third straight week, Mississippi State junior Fletcher Cox was named Southeastern Conference defensive lineman of the week.
In the past four weeks, the only time Cox, a defensive tackle, hasn’t received the honor was after MSU was on a bye week.
“It lets you know hard work pays off,” Cox said. “If I go back and look at film, the play that I made in practice, it’ll be probably the exact plays I made during the game.”
Cox posted a career-best seven tackles (three and a half for loss) and two sacks Saturday in a 28-16 win at the University of Kentucky. In the first quarter, Cox was credited with four tackles, three tackles for loss, and sacks on back-to-back plays. He helped the defense hold Kentucky to 12 yards on their final two possessions of the quarter.
“It was pretty exciting to know I got back-to-back sacks,” Cox said. “I thought it was from another series until coach said it.”
Mullen said the play of Cox also has helped defensive lineman Josh Boyd and Kaleb Eulls play at their highest level.
“Everybody is talking about Fletcher playing great, but I think it’s the improvement of the other guys that is allowing Fletcher to have more one-on-one opportunities,” Mullen said. “Before you could say, ‘We got to just stop Fletcher’, but the growing and support of them has allowed him to play with confidence.”
Banks named to Thorpe list
MSU junior cornerback Johnthan Banks was named one of the 15 semifinalists Monday for the Jim Thorpe Award.
The award is given to the best defensive back in Division I college football.
Banks leads the defense with five interceptions and 13 passes defended this season. The former East Webster High School standout is tied for fifth in the country in pass breakups and is tied for third in the nation in interceptions. He is MSU’s first Jim Thorpe semifinalist since Pig Prather 2001. Fred Smoot (2000) was the only finalist. All three players were coached by Melvin Smith.
“It’s always about the players, but what I always try to do is facilitate,” Smith said. “I see myself as a (golf) caddie and just try to help them get to where they didn’t see how they could get them.”
Banks is tied for third among active Football Subdivision players with 12 career interceptions. He is one seven juniors on the list.
The presentation of the Jim Thorpe Award will be featured on The Home Depot College Football Awards at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8 (ESPN).
Dre Kirkpatrick and Mark Barron of Alabama, Morris Claiborne of LSU, and Antonio Allen of South Carolina also are semifinalists.
CBS delays announcement for Alabama-MSU game next week
CBS has elected to use a six-day selection for games of Nov. 12, and is considering MSU’s home game against the University of Alabama.
Tennessee at Arkansas, Auburn at Georgia, and Florida at South Carolina are the other Southeastern Conference games next week.
The television windows for these games are: CBS at 11 a.m., CBS
at 2:30 p.m., ESPN2 at 5 p.m., and ESPN at 6:45 p.m.
MSU’s last appearance on CBS was a 17-0 home loss to Alabama in 2005. The Bulldogs are 3-6 on the network.