Tuesday Football Practice Notebook

Exclusive game-week preparations don't begin for another couple of days. Realistically, though, Mississippi State is already to a large extent practicing for their August 30 debut in everything but title. "They're working on the gameplan without it specifically being introduced as the LSU gameplan," is how Coach Sylvester Croom puts it.

Actual, 100% practicing for Louisiana State starts Saturday when Mississippi State players will be handed their finalized game plan. Until then, Croom says other things will continue to be put in and tested to see if they can fit in that set of plays and situations.

"Really pretty much through Friday we're still working on stuff," Croom said. "We haven't totally introduced it to the players as how we're going to run against LSU, but it's the same concepts. We have formations and everything and we're deciding personnel, some of it is dictated by who is well."

Tuesday, the first nine periods were run outdoors, and the last hour of team-on-team work along with conditioning runs took place inside the Palmeiro Center. The Bulldogs again were in shells only as there will be no more tackling by the dress-roster until opening night. That hasn't kept them from knocking each other around some, of course. Still the no-tackling tactic does seem to have kept the spirits up and limited further damage to bodies that need to be healthy by game-time.

"It was a good practice," Croom said. "They worked extremely hard and I thought we executed better today. We're still experimenting with one or two things but overall I think the work is good, we're getting the work we want done without going full-speed. We're still getting some good contact even in shoulder pads. I thought we had better execution and defense still did some good stuff."

Practices remain in the afternoon timeslot the rest of this week, and will again be halved outdoors and in.

*The injury list grew by one Tuesday as DT Kyle Love came to practice wearing a red cross on his jersey and a protective boot on the left foot for an ankle problem. WR Tony Burks was in red-cross a second day, having strained the right knee last Saturday. So was WR Ryan Mason with a strained right elbow.

Others still in red-crosses from Monday were starting TE Dezmond Sherrod, his right foot in a boot also; TE Brandon Henderson, DE Charles Burns, and S Demario Bobo. Limited offensive players were starting OT J.D. Hamilton in yellow, and DEs Avery Hannibal and Tim Bailey in purple.

S Derek Pegues got a scare Monday during a kickoff return drill when he took a knee to the right thigh and was hobbled the rest of the session. Fortunately he was back at work Tuesday showing no ill effects. Pegues remains the top return man for both kickoffs and punts, while freshmen RB Robert Elliot and S Wade Bonner take turns for second.

Croom is not concerned that these injuries will keep anyone expected to play next Thursday out of action. "Most of them would have to be dead not to play in the first game." He does worry that having some front-line players limited does add more practice burden to the still-able bodies. Such as, having Burks and Mason on the sideline this week means more snaps for the other top six wideouts. And Croom noted that starter Lance Long is showing some signs of leg-weariness as a result.

*Hamilton has been able to participate in most all non-contact drills the last two weeks. Still it never hurts to develop depth and Tuesday Roland Terry was working with the first line at right tackle during passing drills. Freshman Derek Sherrod was second-team this day, and while he has been as high as #1 at RT during camp when the starters sat out it is not assured this rookie will be activated.

There were no changes to the two-deep at the other four blocking positions.

*With Love taking the day off, the first defensive line adjusted and Cortez McCraney moved up to left tackle alongside nose man Jessie Bowman. Rodney Prince and Reggie Odom are in contention on the right with freshman LaMarcus Williams and Quinton Wesley backing up Bowman.

*The starting secondary has not changed since camp began. That doesn't mean there is no competition though, as alternate and backup jobs remain in play. Where Keon Humphries appeared to have a lock on #2 left cornerback, juco Jasper O'Quinn has caught up in the last few days. Jarvis Williams is fourth in line for now. On the right corner it stacks up Marcus Washington, Tay Bowser, freshman Damein Anderson, and juco Chris Nance.

Anthony Summers has made progress at strong safety but still can't draw even with starter De'Mon Glanton and alternate Keith Fitzhugh. Emmanuel Gatling is fourth. Behind starting FS Pegues it's Bonner, freshman Zach Smith, Jarvis Kyles, and Kevin Valenti.

For the five-defensive back packages, Fitzhugh is usually the ‘cat' or fifth man, though O'Quinn has come on strong here as well and Smith is keeping them both on their cleat-toes. Bonner and Smith are two rookies who can figure on dressing for the opener, along with such first-year linebackers as K.J. Wright, Terrell Johnson, Jamie Jones, and Karlin Brown. Some of these are likely to find themselves on the field in special teams work.

*With the season a little over a week away more aspects of the kicking game are being assembled. Tuesday it was back to kickoffs, but this time on-sides kickoff coverage. No surprise, the ‘hands' team was dominated by wide receivers including Lance Long, Brandon McRae, Jamayel Smith, and Aubrey Bell. Others practicing fielding the short kicks were TE Eric Butler, HB Anthony Dixon, and S De'Mon Glanton.

"We're still working on a lot of different elements in the kicking game and we've got to cover a lot of different elements in the next couple of days," Croom said.

COMING WEDNESDAY: Jeremy Jones has one ‘big' concern about moving to fullback.

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