Tuesday Football Practice Report

Mississippi State picked up the practice pace Tuesday with full-scale preparations for this weekend's home game with Kentucky (1:30 CT from Scott Field, no live telecast). The Bulldogs worked in shorts and shells, though in some goal-line and short-yardage drills there was full-speed hitting to the whistle.

*THERE WERE no new injuries of substance from the Georgia game, but a number of Dogs were still limited Tuesday. TE Eric Butler as usual for the first half of a practice week wearing limited-yellow to protect the sprained (‘turf') toe that will hamper him the rest of the season. OT J.D. Hamilton is also being protected with the knee strained against Jacksonville State. Both played at Georgia and will have no problems getting ready for another weekend.

Joining them this week on the limited-roster are TE Jason Husband, who has a heavy wrap around a brace on his left ankle; and CB David Heard with a knee problem. They should also be ready for Kentucky.

*WHILE THE knee has Heard in purple, the senior was still participating in some drills. But in others his place was taken on the first-team by freshman Marcus Washington. And this week finds a new cornerback on the roster, as wide receiver Keon Humphries has been moved over to defense. Humphries was running #2 at left corner.

"He's at cornerback today," Croom said. "Keon is one of those guys who has some talent and skills, we've just got to find him somewhere to play. We messed around with cornerback some last spring but his heart wasn't in it; now he seems to want to do it."

Humphries has started three of the seven games he played this season, but has caught only two passes for 17 yards. He started four of ten games as a true freshman with 11 catches for 210 yards and two scores. Humphries has been surpassed mid-season by taller, stronger receivers such as Jamayel Smith and Aubrey Bell, and with the suspension of backup/nickel corner Adron Chambers the cornerback depth chart needs rebuilding.

"We look at this now as much as anything for next year," Croom said. "We do it so we can know now because we could put him back at wide receiver any time. He's not getting a lot of playing time at wide receiver and I want to see if he can help us doing something else."

*THE SECONDARY also gained another safety this week as Demario Bobo has returned to work. He missed most of August camp and the first three games with a summer hamstring problem; then played in reserve duty against UAB and LSU. Bobo has not participated since, and as his activity came before the halfway-mark of the season a medical redshirt looks likely…though the request cannot be submitted until next summer and would only come at the end of his normal varsity career.

*WHILE INJURIES put starters on the sideline, this also opens spots for others. And though he'd rather Bryson Davis still be in uniform Casey Rogers doesn't mind stepping into the fullback-breach. Not even taking the place of a teammate Croom has called the ‘best college fullback in the country' fazes a fellow who earned his place on the Bulldog roster as a walk-on.

"I'm a senior and it's expected of me to step in there and give my best effort," Rogers said. "Fullback is not a position you really have to have a lot of talent to excel at, but you've got to have a lot of effort and a lot of want-to."

Rogers has shown both in abundance in his two State seasons. A transfer from Cumberland in Lebanon, Tenn., he has been a regular on special teams. Even becoming the #1 fullback ahead of scholarship soph Brandon Hart won't take those duties from Rogers. "I play on punt protection, kickoff return, and field goal-protect." And as the right-guard on kickoff return there is always the chance of a ball coming his way, though "It's unlikely. Very unlikely!" Rogers grinned.

Of course he realizes it's not all that likely he'll be taking handoffs from quarterback Mike Henig, either. Davis only had three carries in his six games, so Rogers has few illusions about his offensive duties. "Fullback doesn't get a lot of touches. But that doesn't really bother me. I'm just having fun."

More fun than at Cumberland, where the Alabama native began playing college ball. He had no scholarship offers and a high school friend recommended the Tennessee school. "It seemed the right thing to do, probably the easiest transition for me." Still Rogers, a Tennessee fan, always wondered if he should take a last chance at the big time.

"After two years there the head coach was fired and I didn't really care for the guy coming in. I had in the back of my mind, could I really play in the SEC? It seemed a fun and challenging thing to do so I packed everything up and came down here."

He came to State because he'd talked to then-Tennessee aide Woody McCorvey years before. "I didn't even know if he'd remember me or not! I just came to see what I can do." Two seasons later all can see how grit and gumption have paid off in a bigger role than Rogers ever imagined.

"I've had a blast down here, it's really challenging playing in these stadiums and SEC opponents. I haven't thought too much about being #1 and maybe starting, but it's not something somebody from my hometown does that much."


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