Bulldogs Resume Fall Camp

Mississippi State began the second week of fall football camp with the third and last round of two-a-day practices. Reminded of this, Coach Sylvester Croom could only say "We need some more."

Croom and the Bulldogs will instead settle for single daily practices until the start of the 2004 season. The head coach certainly hopes that between now and kickoff his team is sharper than they were Monday, both morning and afternoon, following their first free day (Sunday) of camp.

"It wasn't bad today, nothing special," the coach said. "We came back out and started off lackadaisical, I sort of figured after the day-off it would be that way."

Still Mississippi State did not waste the day. Croom thought the defense gradually picked up their pace, and the offense was sparked by working in red zone packages. Though Croom thought the players "looked like you'd expect for the first time" he did see better effort through the session.

Just as in the other pair of two-a-day sessions the Bulldogs worked in full gear in the morning and shorts in the afternoon. That latter practice was missing quarterback Omarr Conner, who hurt a groin muscle. Croom said Conner had a good morning session. "That's sort of been our problem, seems every time a guy has a good day and is making improvement he goes on the red-cross squad.

"But it did allow us to give Kyle York, Aries Nelson, and Mike Henig a little more work. We're going to start taking a look at Mike a little more with the second and sometimes the first unit just to see how things go. I want to see how the other guys respond to being with different units, to see if it's being with the first team that allows them to do better than the others. We'll give them all a fair shot so we can get a good evaluation."

After evaluating some moves with the defensive line, Croom and staff sent a player the other way and switched redshirt d-tackle Devrick Hampton to offensive guard. "We asked him because we need some quality depth there," Croom said. "And we're starting to stack up a little at defensive line. We wanted to get somebody else there (on offense) we thought could play and we definitely think he can be a good player there. The first day there he didn' t know what he was doing and he looked good. I think that's going to be a plus for us."

Croom confirmed Monday morning that defensive back Eric Fuller has been dismissed from the team. The senior cornerback began camp under a six-game suspension for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. Further miscues over the weekend cost him a place on the roster. His #4 has already been taken over by freshman wide receiver Keon Humphries, who had been wearing #84.

Croom also said third-team fullback Nick Signaigo has been suspended for the first game of the season, for an undisclosed discretion. He was at Monday's practices.

Also on the injury list, running back DeMarcus Johnson, who just came back to work Saturday, re-strained his hamstring Monday on a kick return drill. Wide receiver McKinley Scott was back in a regular uniform and practicing full-speed after missing most of the first week with a nagging hamstring. Tailback Jerious Norwood, who took Saturday off with back spasms, was full-speed again and even returning kicks.

Offensive guard Will Rogers was not practicing full-speed but was promoted from a red-cross jersey to a yellow one that allowed him to take non-contact snaps. Also in the yellow shirts were fullback Bryson Davis (hamstring) and linebacker Cody Upton. Davis was still able to run pass pattern drills, making one nifty catch over the middle.

New tight end Jeremy Jones, a LSU signee who did not enroll at Baton Rouge, reported for his first official practice day in uniform. He is in the five-day acclimation period mandated by the NCAA for new players, and will join the rest of the team at the end of this week. Jones has taken over the #84 Humphries had been wearing.

"Of course he can't do anything yet so we're easing him into it," Croom said. "We've got to get him in shape before he can do anything." Freshman running back Brandon Thornton should be entirely certified by Tuesday to start practicing.

As camp grinds on Croom has invested more periods in special teams work. Monday saw kickoff drills, limited to the back two rows of return men and the ‘speed' cover men. Norwood, Jonathan Lowe, and Rickey Wright did most of the deep-return running. Several fast Dogs took turns on coverage, including Tyler Threadgill, David Heard, and Quinton Culberson in one group; Mario Bobo, Jeramie Johnson, and Brian Staley in another.

With two-a-days over Croom is also moving Tuesday's session to the afternoon, the same time State will use as the fall semester begins Wednesday. As schedules change, the coaches are also thinking more of how the Dogs will line up on September 4.

"We're still evaluating everybody," Croom said, "trying to get everybody in the right spots, so we can really start to push after our scrimmage and get ready for Tulane."

Practice Note

Jared Cook wasn't injured and participated in both sessions. But the senior punter was not at full health on Monday, either, not with a nasty rash covering various parts of his body. Particularly the left side, with that swollen leg looking bigger than the right one which Cook kicks with.

No, the punter hadn't been shagging balls shanked into poison ivy or anything. It was, literally, something he ate. "It looks like I'm done with shellfish, definitely," Cook said while special teams mates teased him. Cook indulged in some crustaceans over the weekend and was paying the price. Again, it turns out.

"I had the same problem a couple of years ago and I wasn't exactly sure what it was," he said. "I think I've narrowed it down to that! And I'll have to get an allergy test done sometime to make sure that's what it is. It's pretty annoying." But at least now Cook definitely knows what to avoid in pre-game meals.

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

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