Bulldogs Prepare For Saturday Scrimmage

There's still one date left on this spring practice calendar. But already Coach Sylvester Croom has turned his own attention beyond the weekend's Maroon-White scrimmage and toward the off-season ahead. "Saturday? I've got one worry," Croom said Thursday. "I don't want anybody getting hurt. That's all."

A painless day for all participants would be the ideal conclusion to Mississippi State's 2007 camp. The Bulldogs go on-display at Scott Field this Saturday, with a noon start to what should be about an hour's exhibition. Four twelve-minute periods will be played and once started the game clock will stop only for timeouts or those dreaded injuries. Croom said the format pits first and as much as possible second units against the reserves, though there will likely be some interchanging due to limited overall numbers in spring.

As for the head coach, he will open the afternoon assisting the CSS air crew of Jim Ellis and Matt Wyatt as they tape a broadcast for later replay on the cable network. "I got nothing to do. I'll let those other guys be head coaches for a day and not worry about it at all," Croom said.

"This day is for the players, for their families and the fans. I know I'm getting ready for LSU."

Thursday's practice was partially in preparation for the public scrimmage, though some more serious work did get addressed. "We just did some goal-line and red zone work today, and some two-point situation," Croom said. "Just special situations we didn't have a chance to cover a lot.

"Then we took about 30 minutes, divided the team up just so they could get familiar with the kicking and know what teams they are on, and how we're going to play the game Saturday."

Thursday's drills, the 14th session of spring, was in shoulder pads and helmets with minimal contact. It was also the shorted working day of camp lasting less than two hours, though that was as much due to a three-hour workout on Tuesday in full-gear as laying out the Saturday plans.

Nothing appeared to have changed in the two-deep since the true scrimmage last Saturday, on either side of the line. So the first- and second-squads seen this Saturday will be the units that go into August at that status, allowing for a couple of veterans held out of part or all this spring for health reasons. The only upgrade seen Thursday was DE Brandon Cooper, still in red-cross but without the full-length brace on his injured right knee. No surgery should be needed.

The only operations this spring were LB Anthony Littlejohn (ankle tendon) and OG J. C. Brignone (shoulder). There were watching Thursday's practice, as were fellow red-cross squaders TE Eric Butler (toe), OG Anthony Dunning (kidney), WR Ryan Mason (hamstring), WR Alex Carpenter (hamstring), WR Joey Sanders (knee), and S Brandon Thornton (shoulder).

A handful of players earned their jersey numbers for the last true practice of spring, as HB Christian Ducre, TE/FB Jeremy Jones, and DT Quinton Wesley were all promoted to varsity status. Through 14 practices the only Dogs to gain number-status and lose it are WR Tony Burks and DT Jessie Bowman, and the latter got his numbers back after the third week. A total of 42 players ended camp with numbers, though a handful of those injured Dogs would definitely have been working in digits.

So while his players prepare to put on a short Saturday show for family, friends, and fans, the coaching staff are preparing for their own spring wrap-up review. Croom is generally satisfied that this session took care of State's prime 2007 questions. "I think it answered all of them. I know what we've got, I know who we've got.

"It's pretty much done now. We'll see how the game plays out but I think we had a pretty good spring, we got what we wanted to accomplished. Now we'll spend next week just reviewing personnel and trying to fit the freshmen and guys coming in fall in, where we feel we need to put them to shore up some positions and certain needs. We'll take time Monday and do all that, review the scrimmage and all our personnel."

And after that, the position coaches will talk to their troops and set some summer objectives. First and foremost, said Croom was setting physical goals.

"In particular the weights we expected them to come back at. We'll give them a reporting weight for the first day of summer school, a reporting weight for the second semester of summer school, and then a final reporting weight for August 1. So they'll have three reporting weights, because I don't want a guy to wait to the last minute to try to get that weight off."

Which is part of the greater theme of just getting ready for the August 31 kickoff, starting immediately. Or as Croom puts it, getting ready to play winning football. "We'll talk about that and get all the plans in place. Then we'll just discuss personnel, where we think our weaknesses are scheme-wise and people wise are going into the summer."

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