Thursday Session Much Better, Croom Says

The weather threatened, but rain stayed away and Mississippi State was able to put in a full Thursday afternoon's work on the practice fields as the Bulldogs prepare to begin the ‘second half' of their season. And it wasn't just a full day, according to Coach Sylvester Croom. "It was a good day. I wish we'd been playing today."

The coach was taking a completely different tone Thursday than he had the previous afternoon, when Croom was very unhappy with how the Bulldogs worked. "Yesterday was not a good day, we did not practice with any passion and purpose. Today we came out with a totally different attitude. I hope it's a sign of some good things."

There have been some good signs for the Bulldogs lately, starting with a productive open week that allowed the coaching staff to polish some fundamental parts of the gameplan and let several players return to reasonably full-strength. Thursday saw the offensive line as close to complete as it has been since the season opened, with guard Johnny Wadley working well again. He will still watch Brian Anderson start at left guard, but the offense is most glad to have the veteran available at both guard spots for this weekend's game.

Among the regular starters who have been hurting, tight end Eric Butler missed another day's work. His sprained ankle is treated daily before Butler comes out late in the afternoon to watch. Dezmond Sherrod practiced with the first team at tight end but Croom expects to play Butler.

"He's going to dress, I don't know if he'll start. We'll wait and see, it will probably be a game-time decision." In any event Croom has planned on utilizing three wideouts in many situations thanks to the return of McKinley Scott to the lineup and the improvement of Tee Milons. Croom also liked how quarterback Omarr Conner has worked this week, returning after missing two games with a left knee sprain. "He's been moving well," the coach said. "We ran routes well, caught the ball today."

Defensively, cornerback Mario Bobo was limited with both a groin pull and hamstring problem that popped up last week. The freshman also hurt his ankle late in the day's drills. With Bobo questionable, David Heard is likely to start at right cornerback. Kevin Dockery continues to start at left corner, and when he plays nickel safety Jamaal Johnson steps in.

Michael Heard is back in the starting lineup at defensive end, though he will alternate with Deljuan Robinson. Willie Evans remains the ‘rover' end with Ron Fields and Andrew Powell the tackles.

The Bulldogs will have a short Friday practice, then eat the team meal before bussing to Columbus for the overnight stay. They will return to campus by 8:15 Saturday morning for the pre-game ‘Dog Walk.' Game time is 11:38 at Scott Field.

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