At the forefront of the progression is the team’s quarterback rotation, which saw starter Chris Relf take the majority of snaps and navigate the last drive against Auburn. Russell threw a first-half interception and led a pair of three-and-out possessions in the same game, though he started both series inside the MSU 15 and had two first-down conversions nixed by dropped passes.

Because of the periodic breakdowns at other positions and the overall competitiveness of the Auburn match, MSU coaches aren’t about to pull the plug on the Relf-Russell combo.

Though there’s a higher probability for designed quarterback runs with Relf in the game, offensive coordinator Les Koenning played down the likelihood of opponents’ defenses having an advantage in adjusting to Russell.