Wednesday Football Practice Notebook

Last week Coach Sylvester Croom made some firm Monday statements about backup quarterback, only to have things develop differently during the work-week that brought a change of plan during the Tulane game. This week, the Mississippi State coach is taking a wait-and-see approach before picking a #2 triggerman for the Auburn game.

"I'll make up my mind tomorrow," Croom said after Wednesday's practice. The choice being between freshman Wes Carroll and junior Josh Riddell for backup to starter Mike Henig in the Mississippi State rotation against Auburn. "I haven't decided yet. I want to look at the film from today's practice, then after we practice tomorrow I'll make a decision tomorrow evening."

True rookie Carroll handled most of the fourth quarter against LSU, and was given charge of the final possession at Tulane where he—and halfback Justin Williams—killed the remaining eight minutes successfully. Riddell, the junior transfer, has yet to play. Having been on campus for the spring semester he was to be #2 quarterback going into the season but lost that status by being suspended for the last two weeks of camp. He did not dress for the opening game; he did at Tulane but wasn't used.

Whether counting snaps in unit drills, or what turn each followed Henig, there was no noticeable difference between the pair's work-load today. Though, just prior to full team-on-team drills, Henig and Riddell stayed on one field to work with the receivers and against the starting secondary; while Carroll was on the next field running the starting offense in ground-game work. If that meant anything, Croom wasn't tipping his hand just yet.

"I just want to look at everything. I think they're doing OK, some things well and some things not so well."

*Both players injured in the Tulane game, LB Jamon Hughes and CB/S Jasper O'Quinn, were still practicing in limited-purple today. But given the numbers of snaps each got in unit drills, it looks as if both will be able to play Saturday. Hughes has a bruised shoulder, and O'Quinn a quadriceps pull.

Hughes certainly got enough work with the second unit, at middle linebacker, that State must be counting on him being ready to go against Auburn. It does appear though that he and O'Quinn will be limited, if not held out entirely, on special teams to minimize risk of re-injury.

*Croom likes how the interior defensive line has established a rotation through two games, to the point the starting tackles aren't playing many more snaps than their backups. For that matter sophomore Kyle Love is more of an alternate than backup to starting left tackle Cortez McCraney. Today Love was getting a good number of snaps with the first defensive front. Quinton Wesley is second to starting right tackle Jessie Bowman.

*The first few days this week, freshman halfback Robert Elliott worked as usual with the varsity. Wednesday, though, with game preparation the priority, the rookie was over running with the ‘scout' offense for several segments. So was classmate Marcus Green. The two freshmen have dressed for both of State's games so far without getting on the field.

When practicing with the active group, Elliott has shared fourth-turn in halfback drills with Justin Williams; behind starter Anthony Dixon and primary backups Arnil Stallworth and Christian Ducre.

Mississippi State can only dress 70 players for this weekend's road game, per SEC rules. In the first two games, with a cap of 80 for LSU at home and no limits at Tulane, there were 78 Dogs dressed each time including ten true freshmen. Of those five—S Zach Smith, QB Wes Carroll, ST Karlin Brown, DT Lamarcus Williams, and OT Derek Sherrod—have played and thus will not redshirt. Freshmen dressed for both games who have not played are Elliot, Green, S Wade Bonner, LB K.J. Wright, and LB Jamie Jones.

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