Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Offense Comes Out Ahead in Second Scrimmage of Spring; Camp Goes into Final Week Ahead of Spring game

It was a small media crew awaiting Dan Mullen after Saturday’s scrimmage. With good reason, he knew. “There’s good things going on, right?!”

Right. Very good things. Great things really, as Mississippi State is now a win away from the NCAA women’s basketball championship. And, the Diamond Dogs have clinched a road series at arch-rival Ole Miss. For that matter several more spring sports and individuals are having fine seasons on court and links and track and whatever games a Bulldog plays these days.

Still, football is football. And spring football is football. So a trio of media met with Mullen following the second and final scrimmage of this spring camp. Mississippi State wraps up spring ball next Saturday with the annual Maroon-White Game, at Scott Field.

 

How did today’s scrimmage look to you? Dan Mullen: “It was good. Last week the defense came out on top. Today the offense really started making some plays and came out on top.”

“It’s always tough in the spring. I want to go back and really watch the film and see some things that are going to get fixed.”
“Our key, what I want to see, is really good football being played. On both sides of the ball. So that’s our goal at the end of spring, is good football. It’s sometimes competitive, the offense does well; did we do well because we’re getting better offensively or because of some breakdowns defensively?”

“And vice-versa, the same goes the opposite way. The offense is struggling, is it a breakdown or we’re playing great defense? We want to be a team that we’re playing great offense and great defense and guys go make plays.”

 

With just two quarterbacks how does that impact scrimmaging and next Saturday’s spring game? “Those guys will just be playing. They’ll be playing.”

“Spring games are always tricky, just because of your numbers sometimes. And you look and say OK, we have enough at this position, have enough at this position. But as soon as you get short somewhere, it can get watered-down in a hurry.”

“So we’ve got to try to continue to stay healthy this week. But the quarterbacks have done a good job staying healthy. They’re making plays.”

 

Did anything grab your attention today? “I don’t know. I get so analytical about things like what I need to see done and how we need to improve. So I don’t know if there’s one thing that really, really jumped out.”

“I didn’t think we kicked very well today. Which is disappointing because we did competitive kicking yesterday and our placekickers did an awesome job. Then today they just kind of seemed off. So that was disappointing. Coming into the stadium you want to see them take a big step forward.”

 

How are the receivers doing with a hole to fill with Fred Ross gone? “Well they’re coming along. They’re young. Donald didn’t go today at all. So to really force other guys to go make plays.”

“We just have to keep accelerating them. They have ability. They just are a really young group. And you’re looking at a bunch of guys that are freshmen or true sophomores, guys that just haven’t played a whole that we’ve got to keep accelerating them to be game ready come fall.”

 

With two offensive line starters out, how is that helping other guys get valuable reps? “I think it’s a little frustrating, some ways. Because you’re looking down and it does water you down.”

“You look at the ones who are going; then when the twos come in it’s the trickle-down effect. Not just with those guys (Deion Calhoun and Elgton Jenkins) being out with the one, but then the twos.”

“But if we can come out of spring, you feel good about five, six, or seven of the offensive linemen ready to play? You think oh, we have some depth issues. Then we throw two returning starters back in the mix, I think it helps. And it’s also guys are competing for jobs and they’re certainly getting every opportunity to go do it. To get that playing time. There’s moving some guys to different spots, and there’s opportunities for guys that will probably be a little less when those (starters) come back in the fall.”

 

A lot of defensive linemen have come into the program, how is the mixing and matching? “It’s going pretty well. I think D-line play is improving. I think we look a little better on the D-line than we did last year. So I’m excited about that crew and how they’re playing and moving forward with them.”

 

With two scrimmages now how is the defense developing for Coach Grantham? “They’re coming along well. I like the attitude, I like the edge, the intensity we play with.”

“You know, there’s a lot of new faces over there. But they’re learning it and they’re coming along. They’re picking things up pretty quickly.”

 

You said Keytaon Thompson didn’t look fazed by anything, how is he scrimmaging? “He’s doing really well. I think the big benefit is he’s getting to go with the twos a lot. So when you’re getting those reps you’re getting great developmental reps with that group.”

“Because you’re playing with good players, you’re playing with guys that are going to be playing in the game. So I think you see, there’s some little things here he still makes some mistakes out there. You still see times of confusion when he’s just really not sure with what’s going on.”

“But that happens a lot with the young guys. But he’s picked it up as fast as anybody I’ve seen out there on the field. You know what I mean, of just understanding what’s going on on the field and how to do things.”

 

What is the final week of spring practice about for you? “Well this is a big week. Because there’s no more installation. We should be confident. It’s really an opportunity to get better. I mean we’ve got practice Tuesday and Thursday, and then Saturday. So there’s some time in-between for us to really get some good team work in, put some guys into some different situations to go make plays.”

“And I want to see us take the steps. I want to see us play really clean football at the end, where guys are executing both sides of the ball. So it comes down to then making plays.”


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