Tuesday Practice Continues Positive Camp Pace

It's been a positively productive preseason at Mississippi State, at least as judged by Dan Mullen's demeanor during his daily reports. Tuesday was no different. If anything, the Bulldog coach was even more upbeat following the morning session down on the Farm. "It was good. We got a lot done, a lot accomplished."

It appears lots has been accomplished, too. The Bulldogs were coming off a Monday morning scrimmage and afternoon practice on top of that, so there was much for the Mississippi State to evaluate already. Now on the day-after, Mullen said, that review resulted in some further experimenting; especially so the backups and newer personnel as the staff wants better reads on their progress and prospects.

"We put young guys in some game situations, which is what you want to see. The older guys performed pretty well. But we've got another big scrimmage Saturday where see more, and you really start to get an idea how you're going to start rotating guys and playing jn formation, the formation of guys that will be on the field for us."

"That was kind of their after-installation experience, let them go play. We have a couple of days now to review it, and then get it all again on Saturday in the stadium. Because the next time we go live it will count for real."

Do you see any young guys starting to get worn-down? "Yeah, you know, a lot of those guys. College football is very very different from high school football. I think a lot of those guys are just trying to hang on, and realize how hard we actually work here. I guess we talk about it all the time, they know that when they come here, that's what they're coming to sign-on for. Then the reality of doing it is a little bit different."

Do you have any specific things to get done these last days of training camp? "No, just keep going. Keep grinding through. Most everything is installed. Just kind of going back and being very, very comfortable in doing things. To master it you have to do it over and over and over again. You want to have that great foundation going into the season and specific gameplans. Everything that's in right now, you're going to cut out probably about 40% and even 50% of the stuff that we're using. And what we're using in each gameplan, we'll tweak week to week when it gets into specifics of checks and plays and all that stuff. So they have a great foundation of everything, because we go and pick and choose out of that menu each week there's going to be a lot of comfort for them during the season."

How good do you feel about the safeties group? "Well, it's good. They're young. Obviously Nickoe back practicing with us, after missing spring, he brings some stability back in there. Then Corey is kind of a very intelligent person. We're not settled on him at safety yet, there still might be some changes with it. With his knowledge, he and Banks can go back and forth because they know the positions."

"Then the young guys now are going to have to step up and step into their own, with Dee Arrington, Jay Hughes, Kendrick Market. Those guys stepping up. And the leadership of Louis Watson as a fifth year senior as well, that is always going to do things the right way and have a great attitude. Show those young guys how we expect them to perform."

What does it mean with Broomfield willing to move? "That's what you want in guys on the team. Most of our guys want to win and they're going to do whatever is best for us to win. So whether it's Broomfield moving or Banks moving, he's played some safety in training camp and he doesn't blink an eye. It's whatever it takes to do for the team to win, and that's really the attitude we want in your older guys. I think that's the leadership you look for and I think we have that with our older guys."

How important to Banks' decision to return was staying near his young son? "It was. He and I had multiple conversations about it all. I think so many different people had opinions and so many people put different pressures on him. I think maybe having a son helped him, because he can think if he was a father what would he want for his son?"

"That opportunity coming, where you can finish out your career and get that college degree, and give you a foundation of success. Not just for a couple-year NFL career or hopefully it's longer, you never know. The average career of the NFL player is three-and-a-half years. So not just thinking short-term but as a farther thinking long-term and as a role model for his son thinking long-term. I know it was tough. I told him whichever decision he made was the right decision as long as he did it for the right reasons. So in my mind he made the right decision coming back, because he did it for the right reasons."

How do you approach recruiting a multiple-sport athlete? "You always want to work with him, you always want to have a plan in place. We're very fortunate here to have a good relationship between coaches. John Cohen and I have a great relationship, so if guys want to play multiple sports here at Mississippi State it's a very easy transition. There's not a tug-of-war sometimes between coaches."

"And I guess having experience. It's like a Jeff Demps (at Florida) a world-class sprinter who is also starting tailback. Of getting used of how you manage and recruit those type of guys. I've done it in the past so it helps."

"But you can go tell the recruit you have whatever relationships, I guess people do that. I think when they come and see how we interact with those sports and what a family, community the athletic department is; then they see for-real it's not just talking about it, it's serious. If you have the ability to play two sports we're going to find a plan for you to be successful."

How is Blaine Clausell doing in camp? "He's doing great. Last year as a freshman, and starting in the SEC as a freshman is always tough duty. Now though the benefit his he has that experience under his belt. In training camp he knows what is coming on the road ahead. There's a lot of guys that don't know what the road ahead is all about, even some guys that have been on the team but haven't played in games they don't know the road ahead. Blaine is a guy that knows what is about to come, and playing on Saturdays in the SEC. So I think he's taken that approach and improved his game and his mindset to be ready for that."

Do the quarterbacks ever ask to be made live for scrimmages so they get used to getting hit? "I mean, if we have four of them on scholarship that are competing for a job, then I'll let them be live for a scrimmage! And if we don't, I don't. I mean, they're competitors. So they always want to play, the want to show what they can do. So I think they wouldn't mind it. But a lot just depending on your guys."

"I mean when you look at our quarterback situation, Tyler has played in a lot of games, I don't need to see him get hit, he's been hit plenty times under the chin by SEC people. He knows what's happening. Dak has kind of that tough-guy attitude. So when you have those to guys I don't need to check toughness at the quarterback position."

Are you looking forward to the stadium announcement? "Yeah, I love press conferences! Maybe I'll have a special announcement, you'll have to show up at 11 to find out!"

Are the older and younger receivers giving more variety? "I've been pleased more with the older guys than the younger guys. I mean I think the younger guys are still developing and obviously we know they have play-making ability. But you look at guys like Bumphis and Chris and Arceto that have started for three years now or something, I like their demeanor, their attitude towards practice. Their hunger. Some of those guys as they get older sometimes hit cruise control, not that they're trying to take it easy but they are just so comfortable with everything going on that they don't really push themselves. But those guys have really pushed themselves, so I've been pretty pleased with them so far."

With the departures and a small number of seniors, will you use the scholarships this year or next? "We're always trying to balance things out. I guess when you get into the personnel question you get very much like a NFL GM. You have to balance it. And unfortunately there's no free agency, so if you lose a position I can't go out on the free agent market right now and go replace a position. So you're always looking at the balance you have to get you through the seasons, and in the future."

"Positional balance is always a couple of years out in-advance. You take the receiver position this year, it's been something we've been nervous about coming with five seniors that we're going to have to go replace five guys that have played a lot. And it was hard to replace them before, I think we've probably been a little bit heavy on numbers of receivers on the roster than we are this year, in preparation of losing all these guys next year. That's where the balance always comes into play for us."

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