Wednesday Football Practice Notebook

Mississippi State continued practicing and game-planning for their first road trip of the 2007 season with a Wednesday afternoon session lasting just over two hours. The Bulldogs, who worked in shorts and headgear, will be leaving Friday for New Orleans and the weekend's matchup at Tulane (6:00 Saturday, CSS cable telecast).

*As this is not a conference game Mississippi State has more flexibility in regard to the size of the travel group. Coach Sylvester Croom said after Wednesday's workout the staff is close to finalizing the road-roster, which will include some Bulldogs not expected to actually participate against Tulane.

"We're going to take 78 players. The roster is pretty much set, we're carrying a couple of guys to reward them. And some I just want to get the experience of going on a trip, they're not going to play. I might change it to more but I won't put the roster out until Thursday morning."

*Croom was pleased—even surprised to some extent—by the performance of the defensive line against LSU. Even more encouraging was proof the Bulldogs do have capable depth and the opportunity to rotate the big bodies at tackle. Cortez McCraney and Jessie Bowman will again draw the starting jobs at left and right tackle for the Tulane game, with Kyle Love and LaMarcus Williams their backups. Though, Wednesday it was Quinton Wesley taking snaps as the second right-tackle instead of freshman Williams. Rodney Prince is the third left tackle.

*Starting PK Adam Carlson has a Wednesday afternoon class. So, walk-on Brian Moore handled all the practice placekicks, booting out of the hold of P Blake McAdams. The drills were as much for the benefit of the kick-block squad, and they came through as Aubrey Bell got another one in practice off the (defense's) right corner.

*At one point Croom took the four fullbacks over to the ‘cage' used by offensive linemen for some specialized practices. "We've got to get them more involved, they'll be a part of what we're doing," Croom said. The depth chart still had Jeremy Jones first, ahead of Brandon Thornton, with Eric Hoskins and Taurus Young the reserves.

Croom is much more upbeat about that position than he was halfway through the preseason. "They're coming along alright," he said. The extra attention to fullback is both to get Jones, a converted tight end, more up to speed with the position "because it's so new to him." And, without a proven performer as in the past, it's a job that is harder to focus on once the season is underway.

"What happens is you spend so much time with the running backs and the offensive line, those guys get neglected," Croom explained. "Because what we ask them at that position is unique and their niche gets overlooked. So we try to take five, ten minutes a day—most of the time before practice—just to get them in the right form of blocking. We're not going to have a good running game without those guys. But if feel good about what they're doing."

*The first defensive lineup has not changed after the opening game. The second unit might be seeing some adjustments this week, though. Such as at right cornerback, where juco Chris Nance seems to have surpassed Keon Humphries for #2. The safety rotation is getting interesting again, too, with freshmen Zach Smith and Wade Bonner (he didn't play in the opener) literally shadowing every move made by Keith Fitzhugh and De'Mon Glanton, respectively, in drills. Smith played considerably against LSU when starter Derek Pegues cramped-up after putting in too many snaps through three quarters.

Juco Jasper O'Quinn continues to work at both corner and ‘cat' safety where he too played. A healthy Demario Bobo is right with him, though, and getting closer to returning to the field.


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