Weather Cold; Croom Hot

After receiving praise from head man Sly Croom Thursday afternoon, the Bulldog football team wasn't so lucky Friday afternoon. While the temperature was in the 40's on the sidelines of the practice field, the middle of the practice field was hot .... thanks mainly to Coach Croom.

At the end of each practice Coach Croom has the team gather together to discuss the day's practice. While we media folks were freezing our behinds off waiting to interview Coach Croom, he was letting his team, primarily the offense, know he wasn't the least bit happy. And based on his actions and looks, the football huddle would have been a much warmer place to be if you were man enough to withstand his, to put it mildly, disappointment.

He explained the reason for his disappointment.

"We had too many dropped balls. That's the thing today, we had too many dropped balls," he said. "I still think (starting quarterback) Mike Henig had a good day. We had guys open, but we didn't catch the ball well today. I was disappointed in our offense. It was lackadaisical. And we had a good day yesterday."

What made it even more frustrating to him is the lack of consistency. One day his players do well, then the next day they are disappointing. He blames it on mental toughness - or lack of.

"The whole spring we have talked to our players about having mental toughness," said Croom. "We can't seem to be mentally tough enough to put two good days in a row together. That was the same thing today. That's mental toughness. We are physically tough. There's no question about that because we will hit people, but right now we are not a mentally tough football team."

While the offense drew his wrath, the defense drew nothing but praise.

"The defense did a great job. Every tipped ball the defense came up with an interception," said Croom. In fact, during one drill the defense intercepted two passes back to back.

He's hoping he'll see some of that same kind of mental toughness from the offense during Saturday's 1 p.m. scrimmage.

"Believe me we are going to put them in situations to find out if they are mentally tough," said Croom.

He already put senior kicker Keith Andrews in that kind of situation on the last play of Friday's practice. Well, actually the other players did. And Keith was up to the task.

"The kickers had missed a few (field goal attempts). They had four (gassers) to run because we had four misses, so we put them in a situation by backing them to the 40," said Croom. "We let (the players) choose who they wanted to kick it. They chose Keith Andrews. If he kicked it, then they could go in and not have to run. It was all or nothing and he made it." With yards to spare.

And I have a strong feeling Coach Croom hopes the offense steps up in the same way during Saturday's practice.

Practice Notes:

  • After missing Thursday's practice due to a death of a friend, DE Charles Burns and OT Calvin Wilson were back. So was defensive tackle Andrew Powell, who missed the same practice due to his father's illness.
  • Wilson moved back to the first unit at offensive tackle. He joined Craig Jenkins, Brian Anderson, Royce Blackledge and Anthony Strauder on the first unit.
  • The first unit defensive line consisted of Titus Brown, Andrew Powell, Antonio Johnson and Mike Heard.
  • Several players continued to miss practice due to surgeries that will prevent them from going fullspeed during the spring - RB Brandon Thornton (shoulder), DE Charles Burns (shoulder), TE Eric Butler (shoulder), CB David Heard (shoulder) and WR Will Prosser (hip). Of the five, only Prosser was in a red cross jersey.
  • DT Deljuan Robinson, like Prosser, was wearing a red cross jersey. His was due to an ankle injury. Juco WR transfer Tony Burks moved from a red cross jersey to a yellow jersey.
  • Remarkably, running back Derek Ambrose, who had knee surgery during September, continues to up his practice schedule. A sixth year has been applied for Ambrose.
  • The team plays their first scrimmage of the spring Saturday at 1 p.m. The scrimmage is closed to the public.


    Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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