Wednesday Practice Notes

Mississippi State ran through the Wednesday game-week practice with the Bulldogs working in shorts and shoulder pads. There was no contact to speak of--other than when wide receivers and defensive backs chose to get feisty in passing drills--but a lot of instruction as State prepares for a Saturday evening matchup with the SEC's 'other' Bulldogs.

And there was a great deal of attention paid to passing game plans, both by the offense and defense, which is usual for Wednesday work at State. Omarr Conner and Mike Henig took care of all the first-team passing plays, and they threw to the wideouts expected to dress out for the Georgia game. The #1 group of receivers practicing were Tee Milons, Will Prosser, and Aubrey Bell, and the second unit rotating in were Joey Sanders, Keon Humphries, and Lance Long.

These six all wear Maroon jersies at workouts, while all other have green shirts. At times one of those reserves will work in passing drills, such as Jamayel Smith. But while State can dress up to 80 players for this weekend's game, Coach Sylvester Croom does not like the sideline crowded any more than necessary and tends to stick with a set group that will see action.

The starting offensive line has not changed in three games but now three backups, instead of just two, are being groomed for rotation duties as the season's first month comes to an end. Judging by snaps, freshman tackle Calvin Wilson is expected to see his first college duty this weekend and at the right tackle spot taking turns with starter Avery House. For the first two games State would 'flip' starting left tackle Brian Anderson to the other end of the down-line and bring in freshman Michael Gates as the #2 left tackle.

There had been a fourth tackle, briefly, when junior James Redmond saw his initial action at Auburn only a month after back disc surgery. Redmond sprained a knee in that game though and is out at least another two weeks. Against Tulane last Saturday the starting tackles went all the way. But Wilson dressed for that road trip and now he seems all but certain to make his MSU debut, against league competition.

The one second-teammer who saw sizable action against Tulane, Anthony Dunning, will continue to alternate with Anthony Strauder or if needed replace Johnny Wadley.

As September comes to an end it looks as if Wilson is the last true freshman slated for 2005 activation, barring injuries of course. That's why rookie Johnny Carpenter, who runs #2 at left guard, will likely continue to dress out as he did for the Tulane trip. Meanwhile fellow frosh Craig Jenkins and Chris Spencer seem settled into scout team duties this first college fall. A couple of slightly older Dogs, underclassmen Roland Terry and Dio Herrera, are also on the scout offense this week.

Croom has not definitely said who, if anybody, will be redshirted this season. Nine true freshman have played already.

The first two defensive lines are also well-established by now, with the first group of ends Willie Evans and Michael Heard and tackles Deljuan Robinson and Andrew Powell. They are backed by ends Titus Brown and freshman Charles Burns, and tackles Antonio Johnson and Corey Clark. Avery Hannibal was working with the scout defense at times but will still dress and play as needed at tackle, though State is showing a tendency to use three ends and one true tackle in many situations now.

Three touted freshmen receivers are on the scout offense for the time being, and thus would seem to be candidates to redshirt as Corey Gardhigh, Adron Chambers, and Tay Bowser have not cracked the game rotation. Other rookies on scout teams include S Jarvis Kyles and DE Quinton Wesley, though the latter has dressed for some games.

Two offensive players skipped Wednesday work. Fullback Bryson Davis wore a sling on his left arm after bruising a shoulder late in Tuesday's drills. He should be ready by game day. And tight end Jason Husband is still in a red-cross jersey as his left shoulder, separated the Wednesday beore the season opener, is still too injured for participation much less action.

Also, injured halfback Derek Ambrose is scheduled for Thursday surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament that was torn on the opening kickoff against Tulane. Wednesday's session had a guest observer as Johnny Majors was in town for a speaking engagement. At one point, when the special teams had downtime, snapper Russell Cook had a chat with the former Pitt and Tennessee coach.


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