The Mississippi State Bulldogs need their top RB, Jo’Quavious Marks, if they want to have a chance of toppling the Alabama Crimson Tide. Marks took a more significant workload after his former backfield business partner, Dillon Johnson, transferred to Washington.
As the 2024 NFL Draft prospect works to get back on the field, we have the latest on Marks’ injury status and what to expect from the playmaker.
Jo’Quavious Marks Injury Update
In the second half of the Bulldogs’ 37-30 loss to South Carolina a week ago, Marks was slow getting up after a tackle. After initially hobbling off the field with an apparent leg injury, he eventually returned to the field.
But the senior RB, who averaged 6.4 yards per carry to that point, could only manage 2.3 against the Gamecocks. However, the rest of the Bulldogs’ backfield could only muster five yards on 11 other carries.
This isn’t the first injury scare from Marks this season. He left the Arizona game in Week 2 before eventually returning to action. Running backs coach Tony Hughes has confidence in the group, even after a lackluster performance.
“Football is a violent game,” Hughes said after Tuesday’s practice. “Those things happen to every (team). You just have to keep playing and moving forward and that’s all you can do.”
But Hughes also understands that no matter who the back is in the backfield, none of it means a lick if Mississippi State can’t win the trench battle.
“Any team in the SEC West, especially a team like Alabama, it is a line of scrimmage league, on both sides of the ball,” Hughes said. “The team that usually wins the line of scrimmage is the team that comes out on top.”
Will he play?
“If Woody feels good enough to go, and the training staff says he can go, Woody will play,” head coach Zach Arnett said during Monday’s presser. “If not, that’s why you have depth. We’ve got other guys in the room.”
Current Draft Projection
Marks is relatively unheralded as a draft prospect at the moment. However, he landed himself on Shrine Bowl and Senior Bowl watch lists while securing the highest BLESTO grade of any Mississippi State upperclassman.
Although he’s not a home-run hitter and he has a concerning lack of contact balance, what he brings to the table should get him drafted on Day 3 and get him on the field early in his NFL career.
Marks’ willingness in pass protection is a huge asset. The consistency he showed catching the ball cemented his status as someone who could make a positive impact on passing downs at the NFL level.
Although being able to break away from glancing blows would be ideal, Marks’ short-area agility allows him to force missed tackles at a high rate. And in 2023, in an offense that more closely resembles what we will see in the NFL, we’re getting a better feel for his vision in the backfield.
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