Wednesday Late Practice Report

Mississippi State ran through a typical Wednesday workout as the Bulldogs prepared for this weekend's contest with Louisiana State. But when the day's work was done Coach Sylvester Croom had some atypically encouraging things to say.

"It was a good practice," Croom said. "We had good intensity, good focus. We're trying to do some of the things we need to do to get better, but if we practice like this every day we'll get to be better at some point in the near future. But we have to do it every day."

In fact the 1-2 Bulldogs did show some spark on the practice fields as they ran through another stage of game-planning for the 13th-ranked Tigers. After working primarily on first- and second-down schemes the previous two days, State's staff focused on third-down situations, goal-line for both offense and defense, and the kicking game. It was a non-contact day.

There have been no significant changes to the first teams this week, other than a couple of practice promotions to fill in for nicked-up starters. The first offensive line is the same, and ‘swing' guard/center Brian Anderson is back up to speed after a minor knee injury. On defense the foursome that opened on the line against Maine is tentatively listed as the starting group another weekend, though Croom hopes two-game starters end Deljuan Robinson and tackle Corey Clark respond to having their #1 jobs taken by Michael Heard and Andrew Powell by trying to win those slots back.

A pair of starters were restricted Wednesday, as defensive end Willie Evans (chest muscle) and flanker Will Prosser (right foot) wore red-cross jerseys. Both are expected to play Saturday. Running back Jerious Norwood's bruised leg was strong enough to practice but just in case he wore the same red jersey (#4 in this case) as quarterbacks do. That color didn't stop quarterback Omarr Conner from taking a lick in Tuesday's full-contact practice, which aggravated the sore left shoulder suffered against Maine. Conner was practicing again Wednesday and will be starting on Saturday.

Wide receiver Joey Sanders, who missed the Maine game, has been back to work this week and will play. #1 split end McKinley Scott is not expected to play with the hamstring he re-injured in the Auburn game still slowing him down, with Jason Husband getting a second start. Offensive guard Otis Riddley (torn knee ligament) is trying to stay in shape on the sideline but his status for the rest of the season is doubtful now.

Also in a red-cross shirt was freshman wide receiver Keon Humphries. The rookie played in the season-opener with Tulane, but has not seen the game-field since and did not dress out for Maine with a sore hamstring. Now the staff is considering whether to appeal for a redshirt, which cannot be done until after the season. Croom has also talked about attempting to get a redshirt for fifth-year senior receiver Ray Ray Bivines, who is back in a regular practice jersey but still unable to play at full-speed.

Another day of studying LSU confirms Croom's Monday and Tuesday comments about the degree of challenge the Bulldogs are facing. On offense he expects to see the Tigers come right at State. "No question they're going to try to establish the run, Coach (Nick) Saban is a physical-style coach. Particularly with the success Auburn had against us, there's no doubt in my mind they'll run the ball and play-action pass on us. And take a few shots downfield.

"Defensively they're as multiple a defensive team as you'll see, they have an excellent blitz package and it's very difficult when they'll bring it and who will come. There's no pattern to what they do." Croom has also noticed a tendency for LSU to use ‘gadget' plays with the placekicking squad. "So we've got to be alert in every kicking situation. They're just a good football team."

Even though this weekend brings the first road trip of the season the Bulldogs will stick to the same late-week routine, with a 90-minute session in shorts Thursday and a shorter ‘game drill' workout Friday on campus. State will have the same Friday afternoon meal at the Seal Building, then depart for the airport and their evening flight to Baton Rouge.

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