Steve Robertson -

Bulldogs Go Full-Pads Before Taking Spring Break Week

*There was no change in the recovery/rehab crew when practice began. OC/G Deion Calhoun and OT Elgton Jenkins are officially out for spring. They are joined by RB Alec Murphy (hand) and WR Jesse Jackson (right arm).

There may be one added to that number for a day though. A drill pitted a split and slot receiver against a corner and safety for run blocking/coverage, with a kicking specialist of some sort as the ‘running back’.

On the very first snap of this period WR Malik Dear barely got a couple of steps off the line when, with barely a stride or two to build up speed, juco S Jonatham Abram slammed into him square-up. Dear went down and stayed down for a while, before exiting stage-left with the trainers.


*As a precaution both of the scholarship quarterbacks, Nick Fitzgerald and Keytaon Thompson, wear light support braces on both knees. Walk-on Logan Burnett…doesn’t rate the protective gear apparently.


*During pre-drills stretching new full-time quarterbacks coach Brett Elliott spent the entire time chatting with true freshman Thompson. And chatting means giving instructions, explaining terms, even hand-motions while the player was hunched over in a stretch unable to see the demonstration.

Meanwhile, running backs coach Greg Knox was joking with Fitzgerald about the day’s musical playlist during stretch.


*There still is no way to realistically list a ‘depth’ chart on the defensive line. Partly as media didn’t get to observe full-team periods; and partly as drills can be either three- or four-man affairs.

So all to go by was one period where groups of four came ‘off the line’ together. Take this with a whole sack ‘o salt and by no means a prediction of who is where beside whom.

Braxton Hoyette, Tre Brown, Deion Pope;

Cory Thomas, Kobe Jones, James Jackson;

Jeffery Simmons, Grant Harris, Lee Autry;

Kobe Jones, Kendell Jones, Chauncey Rivers.


*We noted Tuesday that all defensive players continue the circuit of a few snaps in their units with the four coaches by rotation. It might be a better indication of what new coordinator Todd Grantham has for how linebackers and linemen divvy-up by who was in what group.

For example, there was a collection of ‘big’ linebackers and smaller end types consisting of LB Gerri Green, DL Marquiss Spencer, DL Montez Sweat, DL Fletcher Adams, DL Chauncey Rivers, DL Kendell Jones, DL Kobe Jones.

This left a group of interior defensive linemen in another group of Jeffery Simmons, Cory Thomas, Braxton Hoyette, Grant Harris, Deion Pope, Tre Brown, James Jackson.

The other linebacking group were Leo Lewis, Dez Harris, Traver Jung, Tim Washington, Erroll Thompson, Josiah Phillips, Allen Perkins, Cameron Miller, Chris Redmon.

What it all means? Who knows, this is spring.


*New safeties coach Ron English has a good arm and can give his group a tough ball to catch. Today in a period he was dialing back the velocity a bit but still testing the safeties in the process. Standing five yards off, a safety would stutter step for a couple of counts before dashing at an angle to the coach.

While having to maintain specific footwork, the safety had to catch a clean and crisp pass without missing a step. All did, though it was obvious English was enjoying giving the guys a test of focus here.


*While the assistant showed his arm, Coach Dan Mullen showed his hands in a quarterback/running back session.

In shotgun set with a single back, a manager would flip the ball to the quarterback for the standard handoff; then Coach Elliott would immediately sling another ball to the quarterback who threw a fast out-route of ten or so yards to…Mullen. Who it needs noting caught every ball cleanly. This likely had to do with a little motivation for the quarterbacks to send the head coach a catchable ball, maybe.

The other point of this drill was making the quarterback practice both receiving the ball and delivering cleanly. Towards the end it because a handoff, bootleg rollout with the second ball and pass to Mullen again.


*One other takeaway from that drill, which transitioned to fake handoff and a fast out-route. Backs Williams and Lee seem to be much-improved catching the ball, both making a late turn and jump for the flat and fast pass.

There was no change in the running backs order of Aeris Williams, Dontavian Lee, Nick Gibson, and Bennie Braswell.


*Tuesday’s account of the offensive lineman lineup raised a few queries, specifically the listing of fall guard Stewart Reese at tackle. Well, for another day he was indeed working at tackle. In fact, for confirmation, at one point a coach called for all the tackles to join the tight ends in a blocking drill. Reese went with them.

This of course is not at all indication of his fall or even pre-season position. Injuries have depleted the tackle position since returning starter Martinas Rankin is running #1 center this spring. Oh, as well as helping out in kicking drills as a snapper.

So, Thursday’s utterly unofficial chart:

Left Tackle: Greg Eiland, Tyre Phillips

Left Guard: Michael Story, Dareuan Parker, Brett Armour

Center: Martinas Rankin, Harrison Moon, Blake Mitchell

Right Guard: Tommy Champion, Darryl Williams, Jawon Johnson

Right Tackle: Stewart Reese, Ronald Cochran, Evans Wilkerson.


*Following up on Tuesday, the receiver rotations were:

Split End: Gabe Myles, Reggie Todd, Tristane Piscane

Slot: Malik Dear, Keith Mixon, Deddrick Thomas, Travis O’Conner

Split End: Donald Gray, Jamal Couch, Osirus Mitchell, Austin Williams


*Though nominally a passing drill, Dan Mullen’s favorite gadget play gets practiced with the slot receiver sweep or reverse. The twist today was the outside split end, like Gray, would line up in the slot with a regular slot-man behind him. Then Dear, Mixon, Thomas would motion full-blast behind the quarterback for the handoff.

*Dan Mullen was due to speak with media about the first four days of camp after practice. Mississippi State is off next week for spring break.

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