Saturday Scrimmage Report

[Premium Article] STARKVILLE - Mississippi State received big plays from both its offense and defense to highlight the Bulldogs' second spring scrimmage, and set the stage for the team's final week of off-season drills.

Sophomore halfback Jerious Norwood set the tone for the day when he galloped 62 yards for a score on the first offensive possession of the day. The slippery running back rushed four times for 79 yards before retiring midway through the practice with a bruised lower leg which the medical staff did not believe to be serious.

But there were plenty of offensive heroics to go around. Senior flanker Justin Jenkins hauled in a pair of long-distance touchdown receptions (72 and 53 yards), sophomore split end Tee Milons scored twice among his five catches, one from 65 yards out, and junior Ty Freeman added a 43-yard touchdown reception. Quarterback Kyle York was responsible for four of those TD aerials and threw for 374 yards on the day.

The defense was certainly not left out of the big play category. Senior defensive end Curtis Stowers was credited with a 63-yard fumble return for a touchdown, and the unit was responsible for six quarterback sacks, four fumble recoveries and an interception.

The Bulldogs scrimmaged without FL Antonio Hargro (shoulder bruise), SE Ken Topps (hamstring pull), OTs Richard Burch (ankle rehab), David Stewart (thigh bruise) and James Redmond (knee sprain), and QB Kevin Fant (abdominal strain). In addition to Norwood's in-scrimmage injury, FB Darnell Jones (knee bruise) was also forced to the sidelines. Safety Bernard Vinson (groin pull) and LB T.J. Mawhinney (family illness) also did not scrimmage.


  • Norwood 62 run (Marlin kick)
  • Jenkins 72 pass from York (Marlin kick)
  • Andrews 37 FG
  • Andrews 42 FG
  • Marlin 42 FG
  • Andrews 52 FG
  • Stowers 63 fumble return (no PAT attempt)
  • Jenkins 53 pass from York (Andrews kick)
  • Freeman 43 pass from Nelson (no PAT attempt)
  • Reid 1 run (no PAT attempt)
  • Milons 65 pass from York (no PAT attempt)
  • Milons 12 pass from York (no PAT attempt)
  • Turner 4 run (no PAT attempt)


    RUSHING Reid 14-82 TD, Norwood 4-79 TD, Turner 23-61 TD, D.Jones 3-14, Tyler 2-9, York 5-(-5), Nelson 6-(-37), Team 1-(-6).
    PASSING York 18-27-1-374 4TD, Nelson 9-14-0-131 TD, Tyler 2-5-0, 19.
    RECEIVING Milons 5-93 2TD, Lumpkin 5-89, Jenkins 3-138 2TD, B.Wright 3-46, D.Jones 3-20, Bivines 2-34, Freeman 1-43 TD, Norwood 1-22, Randle 1-11, L.Smith 1-10, Scott 1-9, Ferrill 1-4, B.Davis 1-3, Reid 1-2.
    PUNTING Cook 4-46.3, Wallis 2-33.0
    TACKLES Wallace 10, Upton 9, Morgan 7, Griffith 6, D. Wright 5, Bradley 4, Stowers 4, Swain 4, Clark 3, Dockery 3, Downing 3, Kelly 3, Spivey 3, Bennett 2, Byrdsong 2, Williams 2, Evans 1, Kern 1, Marlin 1, McKinley 1, T. Morgan 1, Tate.
    INTERCEPTIONS Downing 1-12.
    PASS BREAKUPS Clark 1, McDougal 1, Swain 1, Wallace 1.
    SACKS Kelly 1-9, Spivey 1-8, Stowers 1-8, Bennett 1-6, Clark 1-6, McDougal 0-5-4, Swain 0.5-4.
    TACKLES FOR LOSS Stowers 2-7, Upton 2-5, Wallace 2-3, Clark 1-7, Byrdsong 1-5, McKinley 1-3, Tate 1-3, D.Wright 1-3, Downing 1-1.
    CAUSED FUMBLE Clark 1, McKinley 1.
    FUMBLE RECOVERIES Bradley 1, T. Morgan 1, Stowers 1, Swain 1.
    BLOCKED KICKS D.Wright 1.

    Other scrimmage information

  • Signees that I saw at the game - Quinton Culberson, Brian Anderson, Royce Blackledge. There were a few others, but I didn't recognize them. Also, grayshirts Linzy Patterson and John Davis were at the scrimmage.
  • There were 21 series run during the scrimmage, including one series where it was just field goal kicking.
  • During the field goal series, John Michael Marlin made 1-of-2. He made a 42-yarder and missed a 52-yarder. Redshirt freshman Keith Andrews made 3-of-4. His only miss was a 57-yarder that hit the right up-right about three yards up. The holder is number 28, Joey Judge, and the first-team snapper is redshirt freshman Russell Cook.
  • The offense, with York at the helm, scored 5 of 9 series. Nelson, while in there, directed the offense to two touchdown drives during his 8 series. The one thing I noticed that Nelson needs to work on is getting rid of the ball instead of taking a sack. He's young, so he'll learn. Tyler was in on 3 series, none winding up with a touchdown drive. However, he was driving his offensive unit down the field on his last series of the scrimmage only to see a fumbled snap end that drive. Tyler would have had better stats but a couple of his passes were dropped or knocked out of the hands of the receiver. Of special note is the fact that when York and Nelson were allowed to call their own plays at the end of the scrimmage, the offense scored touchdowns. Nice to see that they are picking up the offense. York directed the 1st unit offense the entire scrimmage while Nelson and Tyler directed the 2nd and 3rd unit offenses.
  • Although his stats were obviously good, York really showed great understanding of the offense, especially when it came to knowing where his receivers were at all times. Another thing that really impressed me was how perfectly thrown a lot of his passes were, quite often in very good coverage or under pressure. Saturday's performance was the best that I have seen from him, practice or game, since he has been at State.
  • While I'm raving about York's performance, I should also commend the receivers for showing excellent concentration when passes were thrown their way. Saturday, they made the plays we have been wanting to see for the past years. I don't believe I counted more than 2 dropped passes and 2 balls that were knocked out of the receivers hands during the entire scrimmage. BTW, receivers, in the Morris Watts' offense, include anyone who is legally able to catch a pass. The man uses everybody in his offense. If you don't believe me, then go back and look at the stats above.
  • I would be remiss if I didn't give the DBs credit for putting the hits on the receivers that either caused them to not hold onto the passes or earn the catch and yards they made on the plays. Credit goes to Clarence McDougal (#29), Demetric Wright (#24), David Heard (#23) and Odell Bradley (#6, a vicious hitter).
  • Although the 1st unit offense had the better of it against the 1st unit defense, the 2nd unit defense had the better of it against the 2nd unit offense.
  • Don't let his 3 tackles fool you, DE Tommy Kelly had a great day rushing the quarterback. When he wasn't making one of his three tackles, he was putting pressure on the quarterback. If not for some absolutely marvelous plays by York, he would have probably had 2 or 3 more sacks.
  • After backing up Slovakia Griffith for most of the spring, senior cornerback Demetric Wright work all scrimmage with the first unit. He responded with some great plays, including a loss behind the line of scrimmage of none other than the elusive Nick Turner. Demetric also blocked a field goal attempt.
  • Another defensive back who played very well during yesterday's scrimmage was Gabe Wallace. Gabe not only made 10 tackles, but broke up 1 pass and had 2 tackles for losses. One was an excellent one-on-one tackle of the slippery Jerious Norwood.
  • After writing so much about how well Nick Turner has done this spring, Jerious Norwood showcased his talent during Saturday's scrimmage. He really showed some excellent quickness and speed running the ball. He gained 79 yards on just 4 rushes before sustaining a minor leg injury. BTW, he stayed for the entire scrimmage and walked off with no noticeable limp, so he appears to be fine.
  • A player that appears to have really taken to the new offense is senior tight end Aaron Lumpkin. Not known as a great receiver when he first got to State, he now is showing that he can really catch the ball. Five catches for 89 yards during Saturday's scrimmage proves that. What is even more impressive is he had 9 passes thrown his way, including a play that was a non-play due to a pass interference. It is also impressive that he makes most of his catches over the middle where he knows a hit is coming.
  • Folks, the more I think about the offensive display I saw during Saturday's scrimmage, the more I get excited about the potential of this offense. I have seen plays and formations this spring that I can't ever remember seeing at MSU. I have heard previous MSU offensive coordinators talking about putting in what I have seen this spring but have never actually seen it done. If next Saturday's spring game is anything like Saturday's scrimmage, you folks will absolutely love what you are seeing, especially on the offensive side. I now understand why the offensive players love the new offense. If you haven't decided whether you will be coming to MSU next weekend for Super Bulldog Weekend, make plans now because you are going to love watching the scrimmage.
  • In case you are wondering how I remembered all of this, I kept a chart of each play during each series; not the formations, but the who's and what's of each each play. Hope you enjoyed the report.



    "There was some competition and big plays out there. There were some good licks."

    "Defensively, it looks like we will have strength at linebacker. It looks like we have 7 or 8 down linemen that can play, but we still have to get a lot better up front at a couple of spots. It looks like the young guys coming in, especially the defensive backs, will be able to give us some help."

    "I'll be glad when we get either one of two of the (offensive) tackles back. But the good thing is we are finding some (other) offensive linemen who are stepping up and should be able to help us. It looks (Otis) Riddley is going to really help us. (Manuel) Dickson has been playing very well. (They) give us flexibility at center and guard. We need to get (Brad) Weathers back to playing guard instead of tackle."

    "The running backs have talent. That is very evident."

    "I was glad to see our kids catch and make plays."

    "We made a lot of progress for it being the second scrimmage. Hopefully, we can make a lot more this week. I think the players are starting to learn to practice."

    The quarterbacks looked like they played well.
    "They did. And at the end we let Kyle (York) and Aries (Nelson) call their own plays. I was impressed with Kyle calling all the formations and plays."

    Would you say that Kyle is number 1 and Aries is number 2?
    "Yes. Aries has a lot to work (on). There are some things that we would restrict with Aries. I was pleasantly pleased that he could call the formations and plays."

    What was your impression of the kicking game today?
    "I wasn't very pleased. But, right now, we don't have Brent (Smith) out there. We had one (field goal attempt) blocked because of it being slow. We've got good strength. Keith (Andrews) kind of guided. Keith and (Brent Smith) have 52 to 59 (yard field goal) range. We just have to get more consistent. From the 20 yard line, which is a 37-yard field goal, we should make 100% of those."

    What about the punters? How do you think they have done?
    "Robert and Jared have punted pretty well. We have worked very hard with protection and it looks like we will have guys up front who will protect them."

    Do you expect Kevin Fant will be back this week?
    "I hope so. I hope we will have him back so he can get ready for next Saturday. If not, that's ok."

    Is there any update on Kevin?
    "No, certainly the doctors will see him. Hopefully, we will get him back. We need to get everybody back. The guys who aren't out here, David Stewart, Ken Topps, Antonio Hargro; we need to get them all back."

    What are Lincoln Smith's chances of making the team?
    "(Lincoln) just gets better and better. He has some football savvy."


    You threw the ball really well today.
    "I'm getting there. I think the offense as a whole is starting to jell and have more confidence with the things that we are doing. From the start, we felt like the offense would be a good thing for us. We've mixed it up and are starting to have a lot of fun with it. I think the more I pick up the offense, the more confidence they will have in me."

    Compared to last week's scrimmage, the offense looked much better during this scrimmage.
    "We are just getting better. We've had one more week of experience and a week more of getting healthy at some positions where we needed to get healthy. We came out here wanting to do as well as we could because this last week is more a getting polished week."

    Talk about the players who played on the offensive line today.
    "I'm excited for them because we've had some injuries and the guys who are in there right now have really come together and learned their assignments. I think we have some guys who have been forced into some positions that they've never played before but they have handled it well. They are starting to pick up protection and run-block well."

    With this offense, you have so many different options that you can go to. How difficult has it been to pick that up?
    "It is difficult, but the biggest thing for the quarterback in this system is to know the concept. If you know the concept of what we are running, you can piece together where everybody is supposed to be in it."

    How close do you feel you are in understanding the concept?
    "I consider myself a long way off of being as good as I want to be. I think as well as the guys are running the routes and as well as the whole of the offense is picking up on it, that really helps me out a lot to get into a groove and make that adjustment."

    With Fant out, has this allowed you, Aries and Justin more time to learn the offense?
    "I think so. Anytime I get the chance to take a snap behind the center it is an opportunity to do something. Whether it be hand the ball off or trying to throw the ball 40 yards down the field, it is an opportunity for me perfect my fundamentals, to prefect my knowledge of the offense."

    You and Justin Jenkins had two big touchdown passes against the defense today.
    "That was a defensive read on both plays. Justin (Jenkins) made an excellent play both plays. I can't take credit for the play but I can take credit for knowing to get it in his hands."


    Even though you have a lot of offensive linemen either out or hurt, the offense really looked good today.
    "We have a lot of guys out due to injuries. It seems like everybody has some kind of nick, but we are having to push through it and do the best that we can."

    I've noticed that you guys really work extremely hard in practice.
    "I thing you do with Coach Campbell is you work. We are the first ones on the field and the last ones off the field. When we come out here on the football field we say we want to be a physical football team. We want to be somebody, whenever they have us on their schedule they will say we don't want to play Mississippi State because they are going to hit us in the mouth."

    I've noticed the coaches want the guys to work through the minor things when they are playing. Is that a way they instill toughness in you guys?
    "As you've seen there are a lot of young guys playing for the first time. They have to learn the difference between being hurt and being injured. If you are injured, you can't play. If you are hurt, you can. Football is a tough sport. If you play on the offensive line, you are going to have sore shoulders and play with broken hands. If you want to play, you have to be tough. That is part of it."

    Personally, do you feel that you have picked up the new offense?
    "I'm picking up the offense pretty well. They've played me at right guard and have moved me back to center also. The main thing is we know our stuff, but when we get out there, there is so much. In our offense, we have to move in one motion. If your foot movement is not down, one bust could effect the entire play. Repetition is helping us. Everyday, I see improvement."

    Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is You can contact him by emailing

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