The Mississippi State coach benefitted from a couple of days to review Thursday’s scrimmage on Scott Field. Having put the Bulldogs through a couple of full-speed, full-contact hours, the pace was relaxed a little the past couple of days. Though, afternoon lightning in the area would have sent Saturday’s session into Palmeiro anyway.
Regardless, as Mullen transitions the team from training camp instruction to preseason practicing, he is using the scrimmage as something of a check-point. And in a few encouraging areas, checks went on the positive portion of his ledger.
“Some older guys performing at a high level,” Mullen said. “Dak (Prescott) was pretty sharp. (#)1-defense, I liked the energy our defense played with. I thought they did fairly well for the night, a good job creating some three-and-outs.”
As for the bad? Nothing sounded all that surprising.
“But as it gets going into the scrimmage some young guys, a lot going on for them. Some guys first time in the stadium a lot of errors and things you can’t have when you get ready for a game. Some blown coverages led to some big plays. Some critical penalties, some false starts. Silly things like that that we’ve got to get cleaned up. We can’t have those type of issues in the second scrimmage.”
The issues popped up in the first largely when backups and reserves and redshirts were taking their turns. Mullen said 165 plays were run in the scrimmage, biased heavily to younger Dogs. “The older guys don’t get as many. I think Dak only played about 30 or 40 reps, and was pretty darned good on those.”
“The same thing with Justin Malone and Justin Senior and Chris Jones and A.J. Jefferson. Training camp is not to make us feel good as coaches. Where you say hey let’s put the great players (on the field) and look how great football is. Training camp is to get those guys ready, and the young guys developed.”
At the same time Mullen was feeling pretty good about a few aspects. “The best part of it I think is everybody was pretty healthy. I mean sore, banged-up a little bit, but no issues.”
Technical issues? Naturally. And for all their abilities, the youngest groups on this roster are still very much learning college football. Mullen spoke of seeing “a lot of the brook trout-look. Like, ‘I have no idea what you just said’ out there on the field.
“But when we go to the young guys we try to keep it simple, do a lot of base stuff when the young guys are in there. So they can get used to playing in the stadium and try to execute, more than going to more intricate plays.”
That, will come when the Bulldogs next step on Scott Field and scrimmage again. “The next one we’re going to simulate a lot more,” Mullen said. “This one was really letting them go play, even though it is a game situation.”
Up to now practices focused on installation, which is something even a veteran lineup has to get done as the playbook adjusts for a new season. Mullen said today that phase is finished. Starting now he wants to test the lineups on what they’ve absorbed and are trying to execute.
So, “The next one, we’ll create two-minute situations, we’ll create momentum. A lot of times you spot the ball. We’re going to have kicking game in there. A turnover, you put the ball down and go the other way having to play sudden change offense and defense. Red zone, goal line, third downs, second downs. Clock management situations. All of those.”
Tomorrow everyone can feast with the annual Beefin’ up the Bulldogs steak dinner, sponsored by the Mississippi Cattleman’s Association, the Beef Council, First South Farm Credit, and the department of animal and dairy sciences. Several Dogs will put the protein to competitive use by tossing hay bales, where Nick James will try to defend his 2014 title. He took it from two-time champ Kaleb Eulls in an upset.