STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State head football coach Sylvester Croom worked his football team twice Friday in preparation for Saturday's initial scrimmage of the 2007 pre-season camp.
It was a pair of situational practices, workouts the head coach devised to draw certain aspects of the game plan to the forefront. Specifically Friday, it was two drills aimed at third-and-long offense and defense, a "mental" practice, according to Croom.
"I thought the defense played a little better this morning," Croom said. "I thought our blitzes were a little crisper. We didn't throw the football as well as we have been, we were not as accurate, probably because we got more pressure from the defense."
The offense was saddled with trying to protect its quarterbacks without its first-unit offensive tackles. J.D. Hamilton (ankle) and Michael Brown (groin) did not participate in any full-speed work. But those injuries did give Croom the opportunity to work his young offensive tackles, specifically freshmen Mark Melichar (redshirt) and Derek Sherrod (true).
The receiving corps, long considered an area of depth and strength, did respond with a better showing in the afternoon.
"We have some real good competition at receiver," Croom said. "And they all caught the ball well this afternoon."
The red-cross team remained a fluid group Friday, when Brown joined the cast, some of who have been sidelined since the first day of camp. Departing the injured list and returning to full-speed practice were defensive backs Derek Pegues (back), Keith Fitzhugh (cramps) and Chris Nance (hamstring), and defensive end Jimmie Holmes (groin).
"We'll really test some guys tomorrow," Croom said of Saturday's scrimmage. "We'll test them, but we won't go as long as we normally would on a first scrimmage. After that, we'll be able to pick out the guys that will get the bulk of the work in preparation for LSU. We'll find out who we need to invest our time in."
Croom indicated he wanted to get a closer look at those same young tackles, as well as his freshman linebacker crew and young secondary players during Saturday's game-like practice.