Bulldogs Practice Early; Jude Leaves Team

Mississippi State continued the off-week of work with a full day's practices Wednesday afternoon. The Bulldogs were able to hit the field earlier than usual for midweek, starting at 3:15 and calling it a day after two-and-a-half hours of unit and full-team drills.

As Coach Sylvester Croom said on Tuesday, this day's work again featured plenty of full-contact periods. Much of it was in short-yardage and goal-line settings, run at full-speed with tackling to the ground. And the coaches typically had the first teams taking on each other, sometimes adjusting personnel to get looks at backups with the starters as Croom makes it clear there are still jobs that can be won, and lost, here at mid-season.

On his second day back at full-speed quarterback Omarr Conner looked like a starter again, running the first team crisply and executing in the passing game. Croom even had to send Conner to the side at times to rest. "He got a little sore-armed today," the coach said, "(trainer) Paul Mock said we ought to take him off a little while." Kyle York and Mike Henig also took turns with the first and second offensive units.

This week sophomore Bryson Davis continues to work as #1 fullback, the job he took over for the Alabama-Birmingham game with senior Darnell Jones hampered by a sore shoulder. Yet Davis is going to be hard to replace, Croom indicated. "Bryson played well. There's still some technique things he can improve on, but he battled the linebackers the entire game and did a good job at it. Jerious (Norwood) ran well but Bryson blocked well and made some good runs himself."

Norwood (sore knee) was limited Wednesday, and offensive guard Johnny Wadley (knee, ankle) was also kept out of most work with Brian Anderson keeping the #1 left guard job. Senior wide receiver McKinley Scott missed the day with a respitory illness. And, because the practice started early, some other Dogs were allowed to miss the first periods for late classes.

One Bulldog who did not report for practice was backup tailback Jason Jude, who Croom said had told the coach he was leaving the team. "He said he felt our expectations were a little bit too high for him," Croom reported. Jude, a redshirt freshman, had played in all six games this year as #3 running back and on special teams, and had 25 carries for 97 yards. Croom said he did not know what Jude's plans for next semester were.

State will practice on Thursday, and Croom was not sure what the exact plans were other than the Bulldogs would work in shorts without contact drills. The probability of rain in the Starkville area will affect practice plans, as will recruiting efforts. "Most of our coaches will be out recruiting," Croom said, "so we'll have some team work and assignment football." Some of the assistants left Wednesday's practice early to hit the recruiting road. The players will report Friday morning at 6:00 for a conditioning run, then after classes have the weekend free.

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