Croom Unhappy With Tuesday's Session

Sylvester Croom was not a happy coach. And when the head man isn't happy, no Bulldog is happy.<P> "We wasted three hours of our time today," Croom said after Tuesday's morning session. "We didn't come to practice ready to get better. We just went through the motions."

Mississippi State players, who by now know too well how the head coach feels about lost time, got the message clearly when Croom expressed his frustration for a couple of intense post-practice minutes. Wasted working days are lost opportunities and if the Bulldogs did not take a step backwards Tuesday they certainly made no progress.

"You have to do it every day," said offensive guard Will Rogers. "If you have a good day and a bad day you just cancelled the good day out and didn't get anything accomplished." And this was from one of the two Bulldogs that Croom did compliment.

"Will Rogers tried to get better every play," the head coach said. "(Tailback) Rickey Wright had some good runs today. But that was about all I saw. The rest of them might as well have stayed in bed this morning."

By 10:30, when practice ceased, many players might have wished they had slept in - if not for the penalty running that would have brought, that is. Certainly there was nothing to shout about after the third practice day of August camp. And this was a letdown to Croom as he had expected better after Monday's efforts.

"We worked very well yesterday," he said, "Then we come out this morning and didn't work." Or, not hard and efficiently enough to suit the coaching staff. Even Rogers took no pride when told of the praise paid by Croom.

"I think I improved, but overall we didn't do good so it really doesn't make a difference. It's a team game." Rogers, a preseason all-SEC blocker, said the problem seemed to be that team tempo flattened out on this first day in shoulder pads. "We weren't playing like we should. I think Coach Croom is all about the tempo and playing aggressive and we weren't doing that."

Not at all, according to Croom. "If we played anybody today we get beat," he said.

Fortunately the Bulldogs aren't playing anyone until September 4, so the staff has three more weeks of work to improve the tempo and everything else. State is back on the field for a Wednesday morning single session, preceeding the team Media Day in the afternoon. Thursday will be the first two-a-day session with a morning and afternoon workout.

Though Tuesday was one of the non-full pads sessions mandated in early camp, there was some modest contact taking place in a few segments. Such as when the offensive and defensive lines squared off in two-on-one drills. The blockers would fire off on the whistle and be met by a defensive lineman, at shoulder-level only. There was no tackling, though; that will have to wait until the Bulldogs pull on full gear later in the week.

A handful of players were held out of any work Tuesday. Wide receiver Ray Ray Bivines is still recovering from last fall's serious leg injury and surgery, and while he dresses out his assignments are limited to light jogging and watching instruction. Defensive end Stephen Arant is limited to watching, his left arm in a sling. Punter Jared Cook (hamstring) is taking it easy for now, and midway of practice receiver McKinley Scott tweaked a tender hamstring of his own and went to the side to jog. True freshman cornerback Corey Spells continues to rehab from a broken toe and is not expected back until the early part of the season.

Meanwhile offensive guard Johnny Wadley continues to make progress as he recovers from spring ankle surgery. A heavy wrap on the joint is not limiting the big junior who even led his squad in warm-up drills. Wadley is also clearly in better condition and losing weight, which will help take some strain off his problematic knees.

Wadley has held his first-team spot at left guard, though he sometimes steps out later in a session to yet younger blockers work. The #1 line is has Wadley and Will Rogers at guards, David Stewart and Richard Burch at right and left tackles, and Chris McNeil at center. The junior snapper was suspended midway of spring camp but served his time in summer and began fall at #1 center, just as expected.

There have been no changes to the first defensive line with Willie Evans and Deljuan Robinson at ends and Ronald Fields and Andrew Powell at tackles, though redshirt Corey Clark, who was first team in the spring, appears to be pushing Powell.

Bivines' injury is giving other ends more snaps with the first- and second-units, and youngsters Joey Sanders and Jason Husband are taking advantage of the opportunity. Tee Milons is holding his first-team spot while Will Prosser has moved up the depth chart early on.

The defensive secondary practiced both run- and pass-defense situations. The newest member of this squad, juco transfer Brian Staley, has been cleared to practice and is working on the third team at right cornerback. The way his coach talks, Staley will be moving up the ladder as soon as he catches on to State's systems.

But the head coach is more concerned right now with how his entire team worked - or did not work - on just the third day of camp. Weather was not even a Tuesday excuse with a cloudy sky and moderate temperatures. This letdown aggravated Croom because he thought progress was being made in adjusting the all-important team attitude.

"We don't know how to win yet," Croom said. "It's still one good day and then a bad day. We're not consistent. We have not reached a point where we do things right day-in and day-out. Yesterday has nothing to do with today, we have to come out every day and win today."

And now that Tuesday is over, tomorrow is the next chance for the Bulldogs to win their coach's favor back. "We'll see if we can start over," Croom said. "We'll see if we can come out with the right attitude."

David Murray is the editor of Dawgs' Bite magazine and the featured writer for the Dawgs Bite, Powered by website. You can contact him by email at

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