With the University closing down for the holiday break, the Bulldogs will be on the practice field at 2:45 Wednesday; then have a earlier Thursday session and team meal later. Mullen's weekly call-in show has also been moved up a day with a Wednesday 7:00-8:00 airing from Harvey's.
There will be no post-practice interviews Wednesday.
TROPHY TIME?: Chris White got some good news Tuesday, with his selection as State's nominee for the Conerly Trophy. The trophy is annually given to a player chosen by media voting from the ten representing the state's university and senior college football programs. White will represent Mississippi State next Tuesday evening at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame where the three finalists will be announced, followed by presentation of the winner.
"It feels good," said White after Tuesday's practice. "I really wasn't too worried about that when the season started, just play hard and whatever comes post-season that's fine."
It was fine to his coach, too. "He's a young guy who came into this program two years ago, he's worked hard every day since he's been here," Mullen said. "It's his first year playing that position and he's put up huge numbers and been the foundation and the leader of our defense all season."
White was voted State's candidate over senior offensive tackle Derek Sherrod and junior tailback Vick Ballard. The linebacker was actually somewhat disappointed his senior teammate did not get the media nod this time. "He probably deserves it, he's probably the best player on our team. I don't know why they picked me!"
"Both of them to me are deserving of a lot of awards, all-American or whatever they get," said Mullen. "They're both very deserving. Derek is as valuable to our offense as Chris is to our defense, and really has had the same type of year. Now if you read the numbers, there's not a lot of numbers for Derek! But he's been SEC Lineman of the Week several times and done some amazing things in his career."
Three Bulldogs have won the award since 1996, all of them running backs: James ‘JJ' Johnson in 1998, Jerious Norwood in 2005, and last year Anthony Dixon. Linebacker White is the first defensive Dog to have a serious shot at the prize since cornerback Fred Smoot back in 1999.
"It's good to see defensive guys recognized for sure!" White said. It seems safe to say White's candidacy will be strengthened by a superior showing in the Egg Bowl, since the Bulldog defense is charged with containing Ole Miss' nominee Jeremiah Masoli. Though White said the quarterback is far from the only weapon he has to watch this week. "They have all kind of different offenses we have to stop, all kind of different running plays. They run under-center, shotgun, all kinds of stuff to bring at defenses. So we have to prepare well.
"It's definitely an assignment football game, and really just getting to the ball all eleven people. Because if you don't they can break some long runs like people have the past couple of weeks. So our goal this week is getting got the ball."
MY TURN: Defensive end Pernell McPhee has the privilege this week to wear the #36 jersey in his senior regular season finale. Since the November 2 passing of defensive end Nick Bell, the honor has gone to junior safety and roommate Charles Mitchell for the Alabama game; and last weekend against Arkansas to junior tight end Kendrick Cook.
McPhee knew his turn was coming. "We had decided before Alabama week. Coach (Chris) Wilson asked Nick's mom (Linda Bell) if one of defensive lineman does which one would you rather wear it? She said number 90." That being McPhee, of course, who had lined up on the opposite end of the line from Bell last year and the first month of this season.
"I mean, it will be a real honor for me to go out and represent Nick with his jersey on and let her see me play with it. And just go out there and play hard."
WEDNESDAY: J.C. Brignone talks about getting it right for the biggest game; and Pernell McPhee wants to keep his record in rivalries perfect.