Wednesday Practice Notebook

*Mississippi State continued preparations Wednesday for this weekend's home game with Auburn, practicing two hours in shorts. The day's drills showed how the halfback depth chart has been re-aligned following the fluke finger injury that will keep freshman and designated starter Anthony Dixon out of the contest.

Dixon had surgery Wednesday morning to put the broken, and misplaced, pieces of the left hand little finger back together correctly. He was on the sidelines this afternoon, but in a red cross jersey and with a cast and wrap on the left hand covering everything but the index finger. Coach Sylvester Croom confirmed that Dixon will not play Saturday.

"Hopefully they'll be able to get some kind of dexterity back in the finger by the end of the week, and he'll have a chance to play next week (against Tulane)," Croom said. "With a pad on it, we'll have to see how well he can handle the football."

The finger was not only broken in the first (nearest the hand) bone, but the pieces were also twisted apart when Dixon's hand struck a teammate in non-tackling drills. There was no way to tie the pieces or even a couple of fingers together to allow Dixon to play.

*With Dixon out, Croom said that soph Brandon Thornton will again start at halfback with senior Derek Ambrose as the backup. "And Arnil Stallworth, who didn't get in the game, will probably play this week. We'll go with those three guys if nothing changes."

Another option at halfback, Christian Ducre, is well down the chart for the moment. His waiver appeal to play this season without sitting out as a transfer was granted over the weekend but Ducre has missed a lot of time with the varsity in the past two weeks. Today he was running as the scout team halfback. But Ducre is getting work in special teams roles, such as on kickoff return blocking, and Croom expects to dress the freshman out for Auburn.

*Besides Dixon, sidelined Dogs today were still quarterback Mike Henig (collarbone), linebacker Jamon Hughes (hamstring) and defensive back Demario Bobo (hamstring). Also, tight end Eric Butler was wearing limited-work yellow due to an unspecified ailment. He will still play Saturday, as will wideout Will Prosser who missed the opener after two shoulder injuries in camp.

*The MSU training staff said surgery to fix Henig's broken left collarbone was successful. The bone was completely but cleanly broken on a hit in the South Carolina game, and the pieces were re-attached. Henig can resume work in a couple of weeks but will still not be cleared to play until late October.

*With Henig out and Tray Rutland promoted to starting quarterback, two-year QB Omarr Conner worked Tuesday primarily at his old position. Today, though, Conner was almost exclusively a receiver again in the ‘X' role.

*Starting offensive guard Anthony Strauder was excused for Wednesday class. His place on the first unit was taken by either Michael Gates or Anthony Dunning.

*Croom said transfer offensive tackle Michael Brown still has not had his appeal for immediate eligibility approved. Brown continues to work with the second team at left tackle, though since he is not able to play until the waiver is granted Calvin Wilson is the backup at both left and right tackle.

*The starting defense in game-one remains unchanged with Anthony Littlejohn continuing to hold on to the #1 strongside linebacker job ahead of Gabe O'Neal.

*This has been another unusual practice week for the Bulldogs, who for their opener had to prepare for a Thursday night game. But instead of putting in extra preparations for game-two, Croom gave the team—and the staff as well—the weekend off, so players could take their first break since July while the coaches could go recruiting.

Croom said today that it had been something of a risk, given what he'd seen the first two seasons after breaks. "The way we practiced was very encouraging, their concentration and focus didn't change. We took three days off and didn't practice Monday, all we did was run. And invariably since we've been here when we've taken any kind of week the practice coming back was horrible. Yesterday that didn't happen."

*The Bulldogs will have a standard brief Thursday practice session, focused mostly on third-down work and special teams review.

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