Friday Spring Scrimmage Report

With the first spring scrimmage in the books, Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom came away with optimism that his team is slowly becoming the team he believes it can be.

"I do feel good about where we can go with our potential, but we have a long way to get there," said Croom. "We just have a long way to go in coming together as a team and getting some leadership and getting in shape. If we can become a mentally tough football team, then we can become a good football team."

But some of that potential came to the forefront during Friday's scrimmage, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

On the day, the offense totaled 632 yards, including 143 yards and two touchdowns (67, 7) by sophomore-to-be running back Anthony Dixon.

"(Anthony) Dixon ran the ball well. That was a strong point," noted Croom. "He's practiced well and he's playing well. We know we have a fine runner in him."

Redshirt freshman Christian Ducre, running with the second unit offense, also had a big day, rushing for 171 yards and 2 TDs (5, 5).

After a sluggish offensive start in the passing game, that aspect of the offense saw improvement as the scrimmage continued.

"I was disappointed with the pass protected early, but when we protected well, we threw the ball well," said Croom. "And we can throw the football when the quarterback gets time. Mike's (Henig) still throwing the ball well, but the big thing is we started off slow offensively."

Mike, who continues to solidify his starter's role this spring, completed 17 of 35 passes for 203 yards and one touchdown.

Like he has all spring, sophomore walk-on wide receiver Brandon McRae caught Coach Croom's attention during the scrimmage.

"(Brandon) McRae made some plays (4 receptions for 49 yards) just like I thought he would."

As did backup quarterback Josh Riddell, who was 8 of 14 for 97 yards and a TD.

"I thought that Josh (Riddell) came in and threw the ball. It's very encouraging the way he throws the ball and the poise he has right now." said Croom. "He's just got to learn the offense."

Ty Evans and Zack Harrington also got some snaps near the end of the scrimmage with the second unit.

"I thought our tight ends did some good things," said Croom.

One being a spectacular touchdown catch in the endzone by current starting tight end Dezmond Sherrod. And the always steady Jason Husband caught two passes for 60 yards.

Croom was also pleased with a couple aspects of the kicking game.

"I think we are picking up our new kicking assignments a lot quicker than I thought we would. And our punters punted the ball well today. That's still got to get better, but I like where we are in that area right now."

Both punters, Blake McAdams and Adam Carlson, were very impressive prior to the official start of the scrimmage. McAdams kicked punts of 50, 45, 57 and 53 yards, while Carlson hit four for 37, 40, 46 and 38 yards. Most had solid hang time.

The defense also received it's fair share of praise from the head man.

"I liked the way we hit today on defense. I think that's starting to come together, particularly our secondary," said Croom. "I thought those guys flew around and made some hits. (Derek) Pegues made some hits. (De'Mon) Glanton made some hits. Jamon Hughes is a real nice hitter, but has a lot to learn. Titus (Brown) rushed the passer extremely well all day."

Hughes recorded a total of 11 tackles to lead all tacklers. Glanton followed him with 8. Brown had 3 1/2 sacks for 24 yards. Gabe O'Neal was next with 2 1/2 sacks for 20 yards.

While he was pleased with both sides of the ball, Croom is looking for more than yards gained and tackles made during the spring.

"We were out here a long time today, but I wanted to see our mental toughness. This spring, that's as much as what I'm concerned about as anything else," explained Croom. "I know our schemes are good and that our kids will get better at that, but I want to get the players tired enough to see who can function when they are tired and not feeling good."

The Bulldogs, who take off next week for spring break, will resume their spring practice schedule Monday, March 19th.


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

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