Thursday Spring Practice Report

The first week of spring practice saw the offense receive most of the praise. Then earlier this week, Coach Croom saw some good things from the defensive side of the ball. Thursday's practice results allowed both sides of the ball to receive a share of the praise from the head man.

"I like the way they are working and I like their attitude," said Croom at the conclusion of the practice.

He is particularly happy with the attitude of the team because that was a high priority coming into the spring.

"That was one of the things we really wanted to get done this spring .... an overall team attitude. And really get the entire team, from top to bottom, accountable for our success. And I think we are working toward that every day."

Certain aspects that he's seen on the defensive side of the ball includes guys that needed to step forward doing just that.

"When we started (spring) we knew we had to replace some guys on defense and they are starting to come around. We still have a long, long way to go, but we are starting to come around there. I thought that (defensive tackle) Quinton Wesley had a better day, but I thought their overall intensity picked up. A lot of those guys are still learning. And they have a new coach, so that's an adjustment for them. And some of them are starting to get some weight off. All three of those big guys in there, Jessie (Bowman), Kyle (Love) and Quinton (Wesley), are starting to lose some of that weight. That helps, too."

Bowman, a junior college transfer, drew special praise as well, although it was with a little caution thrown in.

"There is no question that the ability is there and he works hard and he's coachable," noted Croom. "I'm very pleased with him and what he can do, but there is a transition for the guys who come from (junior college). It's going to take some time."

And there were the guys on defense that were expected to play well and they haven't disappointed.

"(Senior DE) Titus (Brown) has stepped up. (Derek) Pegues, (Keith) Fitzhugh and (De'Mon) Glanton have done extremely well (at the safety positions)," said Croom.

Overall, the secondary drew special praise not only due to the talent level, but also due to the depth.

"I feel a lot better about us at safety. And I feel like we have some ability at corner. Plus, we now have some depth in the secondary."

He's also just as happy about the play of the offense.

"Offensively, it starts with our offensive line and we've gotten better there," said Croom. "They got better during the second half of last season and their work ethic is very good this spring."

While the offensive line received their share of praise, the quarterback position, particularly the starter, and the wide receiver position are where Croom is pleased the most.

"Mike (Henig) is throwing the ball well, but he still has a lot of areas that need improvement," said Croom. "We want him to be more specific on his drops and more discipline. But he's come a long way. One of the things we want to do with him this spring, also, is to improve his completion percentage rate and decrease his throwing interceptions. A lot of that has to do with being able to take check downs and make good decisions. But I'm not worried about him throwing the football because he's throwing the ball extremely well."

As for the wideouts, an area of concern his three years at MSU, it appears there are at least two players that have a chance to be standouts next season.

"A position that has really come to the forefront is our wide receivers," confirmed Croom. "We know what Tony (Burks) can do, but some other guys have started to step up. (Walk-on sophomore) Brandon McRae is really having a good spring. He's had a good day everyday. We started him out at our flanker position, then we moved him over to X because he is doing that well. And we can't have him sitting on the bench right now."

But that was what was expected from this talented newcomer after watching him during the fall, right coach?

"He is playing even better than that right now. We haven't played SEC football yet and I hate bragging on guys that haven't played SEC football, but this guy has the potential to be something special."

And he's a walk-on ... at least for now.

"If he plays like he's playing in the first half (of spring) and we can put him on (scholarship) we are going to put him on ... that's for sure," said Croom.

Friday, the Bulldogs have their first spring scrimmage.

"It will be a normal scrimmage. We will have a little kicking, then we'll go out there and scrimmage and see where we are," said Croom. "But the main thing I want to see is if guys will run around and hit people.

"And I hope I'll feel the same way after (Friday's scrimmage) like I do now."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by email at

Gene's Page Top Stories