"I thought there were a lot of good things that happened, even with it being the first scrimmage," MSU head coach Jackie Sherrill said. "I thought we got in the right sets, called the right plays, and made the right checks.
"The running backs probably played a little better than I thought they might," Sherrill said, "but the quarterbacks probably didn't play as well as they would have liked."
Sherrill pointed out the play of the two Parade All-American running backs, Norwood and Turner, as well as the young fullbacks.
"There is no question that Jerious (Norwood) and (Nick) Turner had good scrimmages," said Sherrill. "The fullbacks also looked impressive. They blocked well. Evans, coming off the goal line, looked good. We have fullbacks."
Neither of the first two quaterbacks, Fant and York, started the day off with a bang, but both picked it up later in the practice when the offense started their series in the red zone (the 20 yard line). York, after throwing incompletions on his first two passing attempts, completed 6 of his final 10.
Although he didn't complete either of his two passes, true freshman quarterback Aries Nelson exhibited the same kind of big play ability that he showed in the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star football game when he had to scramble out of the pocket. He scrambled to his left, then cut back across the middle of the field. If the play hadn't been whistled dead, he may have scored.
"Our two young wide receivers (Milons and Brandon Wright of Memphis, Tenn.) have looked better than the older ones," said Sherrill. "But I thought the secondary was very good. They kept the ball out of those guy's hands."
Tee Milons showed great hands on a very short and very hard thrown pass. Tee also impressively beat starting DOG Safety Gabe Wallace over the middle for a 20-yard TD reception.
"We gave up the slant post for a touchdown where the free safety got a little too far out of the way and Gabe had too much cushion," said secondary coach Curley Hallman.
The offense played without tailback Dontae Walker (Clinton, Miss., knee sprain), but his condition showed improvement from earlier in the day. Originally projected to be out until early next week, the coaching and training staff now thinks he should be ready for the team's second scrimmage (Saturday). The wide receivers continued to work in contact without Ray Ray Bivines (Gautier, Miss.) and Terrell Grindle (Hattiesburg, Miss.), who both are nursing hamstring soreness.
"Ray Ray will be able to play this Saturday," said Sherrill. "Grindle can run full speed but has a hard time stopping. He probably is a week away from playing."
The defense competed without Mario Haggan (Clarksdale, Miss.) and Tommy Kelly (Jackson, Miss.), who were sidelined with illness and abdominal troubles, respectively. Freshman defensive back David Heard (Vicksburg, Miss.) suffered a foot ligament injury on Monday and will undergo surgery Thursday.
"If we were playing today, both (Haggan and Kelly) would have been able to play," said Sherrill.
One other player who missed the first part of fall practice, Kahlil Nash, is expected to be ready to scrimmage this Saturday, according to Sherrill.
Junior Lennie Day replaced Kelly on the starting unit, while sophomore Tarus Morgan was the replacement for Haggan.
True freshman Dog Safety Darren Williams, another Parade All-American signed by MSU, stepped up and made several good plays. On one of those plays, Darren impressively tackled running back Jerious Norwood in the backfield. He also made an excellent open field tackle on senior fullback Justin Griffith. If any of you have watched Griffith run, you realize tackling him one on one in the open field is not an easy thing to do. Williams made a total of 3 tackles during the scrimmage.
"I think (Williams) is going to be a good tackler," said Hallman. "I have seen that in practice. Darren has worked hard. He just has to fight through this stage of leg heaviness that they are dealing with." (Two-a-days has caused the players to have weary legs.-Gene)
Coach Sherrill was also impressed with Williams' play.
"Darren Williams made two real good plays early," said Sherrill. "He is a consistent player."
Williams wasn't the only DB that was impressive during yesterday's scrimmage.
Secondary coach Curley Hallman was very impressed with his overall group based on the initial scrimmage observation.
"Overall, I think we made some big plays in the secondary," said Hallman. "I saw some of the young guys do some good things. (Kevin) Dockery did some good things. Really, it's hard to tell too much, because sometimes the on-the-field situations lie a little bit. We'll watch the film as a group tonight. But, overall, I was pleased. We played 16 or 17 guys in the secondary. That's a lot of guys."
MSU's fourth Parade All-American fron last year's signing class, defensive end Marvin Byrdsong, showed excellent quickness, making a tackle after shedding a blocker. He also exhibited that same quickness when he tackled Norwood in the backfield. Byrdsong made a total of 4 tackles during the scrimmage.
Not only was the defense impressive, but the field goal kickers were as well.
"We kicked field goals very, very well," said Coach Sherrill. "It looks like we have much improved field goal kicking.
"(John Michael Marlin) is probably the most consistent one right now, but he doesn't have the (leg) strength the others have," said Sherrill.
True freshman field goal kicker Keith Andrews (2-of-2) and sophomore Marlin (1-of-1) made all of their scrimmage field goals. Keith, exhibiting excellent leg strength, also made a 62-yarder during the pre-scrimmage kicking.
After playing a lot of players in yesterday's scrimmage, Sherrill expects to change up a little bit for the Saturday scrimmage based on who made plays in the first scrimmage.
"We started off with the (third group) today," said Sherrill. "We will start making decisions as to who can make plays. We then will zero it down to those guys."
Reid 8 pass from York (Marlin kick)
Andrews 29 FG
Milons 20 pass from Fant (Marlin kick)
Marlin 21 FG
Andrews 30 FG
Reid 1 run (no PAT attempt)
Norwood 10 pass from Fant (no PAT attempt)
Reid 1 run (no PAT attempt)
RUSHING - Wonsley 10-50, Reid 8-49 2TD, Turner 9-33, Norwood 11-24, W.Evans 3-19, Fant 3-12, J.Griffith 3-11, Nelson 1-5, Topps 2-1, Tyler 2-(-13), York 5-(-15).
PASSING - Fant 5-12-1-45 2TD, York 6-12-2-29 TD, Tyler 1-4-1-24, Topps 1-1-0-7, Nelson 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING - Milons 2-24 TD, Reid 2-15 TD, Scott 2-11, D.Jones 1-24, Norwood 1-10 TD, Lumpkin 1-9, Billings 1-6, J.Griffith 1-5, Tubbs 1-3, Turner 1-(-2).
PUNTING - Wallis 3-37.0, B.Morgan 1-35.0.
TACKLES - Gholar 5, Thompson 5, Bradley 4, Byrdsong 4, Mawhinney 4, Burdett 3, Jack 3, Kern 3, J.Morgan 3, Spivey 3, Williams 3, Brown 2, Clark 2, Downing 2, Fields 2, N.Jackson 2, T. Morgan 2, Randle 2, Arant 1, Banks 1, Bennett 1, Crockett 1, Dickson 1, Dockery 1, S.Griffith 1, McKinley 1, B.Morgan 1, Oyefesobi 1, Riddley 1, Vinson 1, Wallace 1, D.Wright 1.
INTERCEPTIONS - D.Wright 1-25, Downing 1-7, Dockery 1-0, S.Griffith 1-0.
PASS BREAKUPS - Dockery 2, Downing 1, S.Griffith 1, Wallace 1, Williams 1.
SACKS - T. Morgan 1-9, Brown 1-7, Byrdsong-0.5-7, Williams-0.5-7.
TACKLES FOR LOSS - Mawhinney 2-10, Spivey 1-8, Williams 1-5, Downing 1-4, J.Morgan 1-4, Brown 1-3, Byrdsong 1-3.
CAUSED FUMBLES - Thompson 1.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES - S.Griffith 1, Wallace 1, Vinson 1.
Portions of this writeup were provided by the MSU Sports Media Relations Department.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.