Holloway's speed gives No. 25 Mississippi St big-play threat
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Brandon Holloway's speed can cover up a lot of Mississippi State's mistakes.
The Bulldogs were bumbling through an ugly first quarter on Saturday night when Holloway caught a kickoff a few yards into his own end zone. He ran straight forward, juked once in each direction and then continued up the middle, blowing past several Southern Mississippi players on his way to the 100-yard touchdown.
The play allowed Mississippi State time to regroup, find its offensive rhythm and eventually cruise to a 34-16 victory.
''I'm just trying to use my versatility any way we need it,'' Holloway said.
The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Holloway was also an important part of Mississippi State's offense on Saturday, running for 51 yards and seven carries. He splits time in the backfield with Ashton Shumpert, who at 6-foot-2 and 218 pounds has a much different running style.
''Shumpert comes in there and pounds them down and then I can go out there and use my speed to make a play,'' Holloway said.
Holloway was so effective against Southern Miss it's easy to wonder if he'll have a larger role in No. 25 Mississippi State's Southeastern Conference opener against No. 14 LSU on Saturday.
He's had some good moments during his first two seasons - like 76 yards rushing against Texas A&M in 2014 - but hasn't been a consistent threat.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen seems content to use Holloway's talent in short bursts.
Most of Mississippi State's running backs - including Shumpert, Dontavian Lee and Aeris Williams - weigh more than 200 pounds. Quarterback Dak Prescott, whose ability to run is vital for the Bulldogs, is also a load to bring down at about 230 pounds.
That leaves Holloway - one of the few guys on the roster who can simply outrun just about everybody on the field.
''He comes in with more flash because he is different than any other backs,'' Mullen said. ''He comes in with this burst of speed that other guys don't really bring to the table.''
Mississippi State is trying to beat LSU for a second straight season after last year's 34-29 victory snapped a 14-game losing streak in the series. Holloway wasn't much of a factor in that game. He finished with one carry for zero yards.
But LSU's players say they're well aware of Holloway's ability after watching film. They say the key to stopping him is making sure he's on the ground before he's able to reach top speed.
''He might go east and west but when he hits that north south, he's going,'' LSU defensive lineman Christian LaCouture said.
Said LSU safety Jamal Adams: ''The speed is there and once you have speed, if you hit an angle, you get loose and have any little space, you're going to make something happen.''
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, contributed to this story.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org