Wednesday Practice Notebook

The third day of preseason saw Bulldogs in full padding for the first time. No, they still cannot go full contact yet per NCAA practice schedules. That starts Friday.

Still the Mississippi State staff got a little controlled hitting in, with a round of ‘Oklahoma drills’. The honor of the first licks laid fell to OT Martinas Rankin and DE Torrey Dale, with the offense more or less winning this matchup.

*Fingers are crossed of course. But mid-way of the third day no Bulldog had been sent to the pit with a practice injury.

*Kicking teams got a lot of Wednesday work, first with protection teams tests and then coverage work. It’s still early to project who are going to be returning kicks but there was plenty carry-over from spring. CB Will Redmond, WR Fred Ross, WR Donald Gray, and CB Taveze Calhoun were taking turns fielding punts at mid-field. At the same time over on the sideline catching the half-field kickoffs were WR Gabe Myles, WR Deddrick Thomas, WR Fred Brown, and RB Brandon Holloway.

For the real punt protect/cover period though, only Ross was fielding the punts. And it was first-team corners Redmond and Calhoun working as the missiles from opposite sides of the field.

*The need for some big bodies in punt protect periods made reading the defensive line depth chart just about impractical. But, we’ll try anyway. And the rest of the groupings were much easier to chart, as follows.

END: A.J. Jefferson, Jonathan Calvin, Grant Harris, Anfernee Mullins

RIGHT TACKLE: Nick James, Nelson Adams, Lawrence Brown, Fletcher Adams

LEFT TACKLE: Chris Jones, Cory Thomas, Braxton Hoyette, Kendell Jones, #92 white

END: Ryan Brown, Torrey Dale, Will Coleman, Keith Joseph

LEFT LINEBACKER: Zachary Jackson, J.T. Gray, Traver Jung, Tim Washington, #29 white

MIDDLE LINEBACKER: Richie Brown, Gerri Green, Kelan Chairs, Leo Lewis

RIGHT LINEBACKER: Beniquez Brown, Deandre Ward, Dezmond Harris, Josiah Phillips

RIGHT CORNERBACK: Taveze Calhoun, Tolando Cleveland, Jamoral Graham, Chris Stamps

RIGHT SAFETY: Kendrick Market, Deontay Evans, Jamal Peters, #25 white

LEFT SAFETY: Kivon Coman, Brandon Bryant, Mark McLaurin

LEFT CORNERBACK: Will Redmond, Cedric Jiles, Chris Rayford, Maurice Smitherman

Note though, this reflects at least one sure number change (Jiles now wears #5) and one suspected change, of Smitherman since it was #21 at the corner in white. The listed #21 is RB Nick Gibson, in maroon.

*What should really stand out from the above is not so much where everyone is lined up. Not for now, anyway. Instead, it is the sheer numbers on the defensive line assembled after a few years of heavy recruiting. There are four complete defensive line units available for drills this camp; eight true tackles and eight ends.

*Something which new coordinator Manny Diaz brought to spring camp was an emphasis on tackling technique, where every defensive coach took turns showing players from all positions some special tactics used by their unit.

State has continued that into preseason as well. During one period cornerbacks Coach Deshea Townsend was tutoring the biggest guys on this side, the linemen, how to take somebody low and efficiently. DE Ryan Brown got to do it first, to DT Chris Jones, and did it well too. Meanwhile safeties Coach Tony Hughes had the linebackers, and line Coach David Turner the corners and safeties. Diaz monitored all three areas in turn.

*Even if it is early in camp, there’s no patience with turnovers. Which RB Dontavian Lee found out. After fumbling during a routine drill against no defender, he had to haul the ball around the practice field perimeter. Jogging all the way, then give the ball back to a coach at the end and resume working.

And speaking of ball protection and good hands and such stuff, just as practice ended a downpour hit this corner of campus. Everyone stayed for Coach Dan Mullen's post-practice talk to the team, then they left. Except for receivers.

Coach Billy Gonzales kept his split ends and slot guys around, during the rain, for extra drills with the jugs gun firing bullets and guys having to make the grab. Regardless.

*Just to keep up, the offensive depth chart for Wednesday was:

QUARTERBACK: Dak Prescott, Nick Fitzgerald, Damian Williams, Elijah Staley, Nick Tiano

RUNNING BACK: Ashton Shumpert, Brandon Holloway, Dontavian Lee, Aeris Williams, Nick Gibson

RIGHT TACKLE: Justin Senior, Damien Robinson, Martinas Rankin, Evans Wilkerson

RIGHT GUARD: Devon Desper, Jake Thomas, Ronald Cochran, Cole Carter, Devin Hadley

CENTER: Jamaal Clayborn, Jocquell Johnson, Nick Proby, Darryl Williams

LEFT GUARD: Justin Malone, Deion Calhoun, Michael Story, Hunter Bradley

LEFT TACKLE: Rufus Warren, Elgton Jenkins, Cole Carter, Harrison Moon

LEFT SPLIT END: Fred Brown, Jesse Jackson, Donald Gray, Kareem Vance, T.J. Flinta

RIGHT SPLIT END: De’Runnya Wilson, Joe Morrow, Deddrick Thomas, Jonnas Spivey

SLOT RECEIVER: Fred Ross, Gabe Myles, Malik Dear, Keith Mixon, Farrod Green

TIGHT END: Gus Walley, Darrion Hutcherson, B.J. Hammond, Aaron Hammaker

*There will be no media access to Thursday’s practice, nor any post-practice talks with coaches nor players. That’s because Friday is loaded, as the annual campus media day when almost everyone will make their way to the interview room in Seal at some point.


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