Wednesday Football Practice Report

Mississippi State ran through a standard midweek practice Wednesday afternoon, with the Bulldogs working in shorts and shells for just over two hours. The first six periods were run outdoors with focus on some special teams (placekicking and kickoffs), and then both unit and 7-on-7 drills for the varsity.

The last half of the session was spent in the Palmeiro Center where Coach Sylvester Croom said emphasis was placed on third downs situations, by both sides of the ball; and brushing up other details. "We worked on finishing plays and making an attempt to do everything exactly right," Croom said.

"Practice was OK. We did some things well, nothing real special. We had too many mistakes offensively. We didn't do it today as well as we did yesterday. But we'll repeat a lot of it tomorrow to make sure we've got it right."

*With the season underway and the depth chart relatively set, most serious changes only come due to injury. With one full and one partial practice day left before Mississippi State hosts Tulane the staff is having to come up with plans in case a couple of offensive starters are not available. Croom is not overly optimistic as of today that TE Eric Butler and FB Bryson Davis will be in their starting spots Saturday.

"There's still a question about Butler," Croom said. The junior has a hurting toe that has kept him sidelined three days now. Davis' situation just came up late Tuesday when the senior's foot started bothering him. "It's questionable," Croom said of Davis' game status. "He's got something with his foot and I'm not sure, he didn't practice much yesterday or today at all. We'll probably be better off sitting him down."

In those absences, Brandon Hart, Casey Rogers, and Taurus Young all took turns with the first offense at fullback; while Dezmond Sherrod and Jason Husband are still the primary tight ends if Butler can't play.

*Croom did say that he expects DE Titus Brown (sore knee) to play against Tulane. The junior stayed in the training room all Tuesday; today he was on the practice field in limited-work purple. So was LB Gabe O'Neal with a recurrence of his August shoulder problem. He has played in both games this season. Meanwhile combo DB Demario Bobo, who has been out of action since an early-August hamstring pull, has been practicing in first-team white. In fact Bobo was lined up with the starting unit as the extra safety in pass-defense drills as the extra safety, a role Croom has expected the veteran corner/safety to fill this year.

*Other injured Dogs who did not practice today and are unlikely to play this week are HB Brandon Thornton (ankle), DT Quentin Wesley (ankle), and LB Jamon Hughes (hamstring). Hughes has yet to play this season; Thornton started the first two contests and Wesley was used as a backup against Auburn before spraining the ankle.

Also, OT Roland Terry (back) reported to practice for the first time in days, in a red cross jersey. He is still hampered by a back problem.

*Wednesday saw a familiar number back on the practice field for the first time in two weeks. QB Mike Henig, who broke the left collarbone in the second quarter of the August 31 opener with South Carolina, was back at work today. And not in a red cross either but standard quarterback-red. Righthander Henig participated in most of the passing drills along with starter Tray Rutland, though he did not actually run the team in full team work because he cannot play anytime soon.

"He threw a couple of passes today," Croom said. "The doctor said he could start throwing after two weeks. But it's still four weeks away before we can do anything seriously. He'll keep working and it's good that he can do that, that way when we can really let him go he won't be that far off."

With Henig tossing the ball along with Rutland, redshirt freshman Ty Evans ran the varsity offense during ground-game drills as the #2. Omarr Conner still is the primary backup to Rutland in case the starter goes down, but for today the senior did not throw any passes or take any snaps. Instead he worked solely as a wide receiver, where he will start this weekend.

*Tuesday it was freshman Anthony Dixon getting good words for his practice efforts. Wednesday another true frosh got the coach's attention. "Arnil Stallworth did a couple of things really, really well and we hope he'll carry that over into the ball game," Croom said. Stallworth is still #2 to Dixon but will be used this weekend with Thornton out. Transfer freshman Christian Ducre remains the third halfback and he will definitely see action on special teams Saturday against his former school.

*The defensive staff is clearly counting on Titus Brown being able to play this weekend, as only other defensive linemen—ends and tackles both—wear varsity white. They are DTs Deljuan Robinson, Andrew Powell, Antonio Johnson, and Kyle Love, with ends Michael Heard, Charles Burns, Avery Hannibal, and Rodney Prince.

Burns is currently holding Brown's slot at left end. The second line is Prince, Love, Johnson, and Hannibal.

*Offensive tackle Mike Brown still has not received any word from the NCAA about his appeal for a waiver to play this transfer season. The committee that rules on such things meets again Thursday. If granted the appeal Brown could quickly get into the mix as he has been practicing as the second left tackle for three weeks. For now Calvin Wilson is the #2 at both tackles, and Wednesday he practiced at both ends of the offensive line.

*Croom said the Bulldogs will work again in shorts Thursday, polishing up more third-down and special situations.

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