Bulldogs Run Through Two-Hour Wednesday Session

Mississippi State ran through a normal two-hour Wednesday practice session as the Bulldogs prepare for a two-game run to finish the 2004 season. But since Arkansas does not feature a normal quarterback, the Bulldogs had some intense work on the defensive side.

The MSU defense spent much of the afternoon continuing their drills in anticipation of UA triggerman Matt Jones running...or pitching, or throwing the ball at any point, any play, any field position. Nobody in the SEC has successfully contained the remarkable senior, and Coach Sylvester Croom says there is no secret plan in the works for MSU's matchup.

But the scout team offense did its best to mimic the Arkansas attack, using different quarterbacks for different situations. The first and second defenses got a 'look' at UA's schemes with walk-on T.J. Swanson under center for passing plays; and running back Rickey Wright taking snaps on running/option plays.

At times the scout team had some interesting personnel running plays, such as when holder Joe Judge played wide receiver in a couple of sets. Judge, a senior, is suspended for this game after being flagged for a sideline incident in State's last contest two weeks ago at Alabama. His job holding on placekicks has been taken over by punter Brooks Crabtree.

The offense had a busy afternoon with many five-minute segements devoted to passing, catching, and route-running. A couple of drills were what receiver Coach Guy Holliday called "one-on-one Wednesday" with the varsity receivers working against the starting and backup secondary players in single matchups.

Field goal kicking got extra work for a second day, partly because another holder is being used. Croom also invested multiple segments in goal line and short yardage situations for the varsity against scout units. The offense ended the day with a hurry-up drill.

The Bulldogs are in good shape for the Arkansas game. Only wide receiver Joey Sanders was limited, wearing a yellow jersey, and he still got in plenty of work. The first teams on both sides of the ball are full-strength again, as are the primary backups at all positions.

And related to health, a familiar figure was on the sideline Wednesday as Brad Weathers watched his old teammates work out. Weathers, a starting right guard in 2002, missed all of 2003 after a shoulder injury revealed a nerve condition that took all strength from the blocker's left side. He gave up football after the '03 season.

But Weathers' condition has improved lately and MSU is exploring the possibilities of his returning to varsity scholarship status for 2005. There are many details to work out first and an appeal will have to be approved, so it will be some time before a ruling is received.

The Bulldogs will practice again Thursday and briefly on Friday before leaving for the overnight stay in Columbus. Gametime Saturday at Scott Field is 1:30.

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