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Post-practice fight leads to Music City Bowl QB change for Mississippi State

Gotta love bowl season.

LSU v Mississippi State Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

It’s been a wild year for Mississippi State when it comes to shuffling players in and out at the quarterback position. As it turns out, the Bulldogs saved their strangest QB switch for the very end of the season.

According to David H. Murray of 247 Sports, Mississippi State will start senior Tommy Stevens at quarterback and not freshman Garrett Shrader. This comes less than a week after Bulldogs head coach Joe Moorhead stated definitively during his meeting with the media that Shrader would continue to be his guy at QB.

So why the sudden change? Well, it appears Shrader got punched in the face by a teammate after practice earlier this week.

The twist was that shortly before the press conference Shrader and a defensive teammate had been in a confrontation stemming from an in-practice contact drill. Their post-practice altercation escalated before other Bulldogs separated them.

The end result was a swollen eye for the quarterback which initially seemed of moderate concern. There was a short walk-through Saturday practice, with Shrader withheld from participation.

Follow-up examination after swelling subsided revealed some orbital bone damage. While further evaluations continue sources are now confident the bone will heal naturally, without surgical attention and perhaps by the end of January.

Shrader spent a short Christmas vacation with family in Charlotte, N.C. While any degree of practice participation is uncertain he will not play in the bowl game.

Shrader and Stevens have split time at quarterback for MSU virtually all season, with the freshman not securing the starting spot until the regular season finale against arch-rival Ole Miss. The passing numbers of the two are virtually identical, and while both have respectable ground numbers to accompany those, Shrader is the QB with the reputation of being a more significant threat with his legs.

Two years ago, Mississippi State beat us in a bowl game without a coaching staff and with like a seventh string QB. Now they’re trying to up the ante and beat us after losing their starting QB to getting beaten up by a teammate.

Gotta love bowl season.