Monday Football Practice Notebook

Mississippi State returned to game-week routine with a somewhat un-routine practice. The session began at 4:00, not the usual 5:30 for Monday; it lasted well over two hours; and it was run half-outdoors, half-inside the Palmeiro Center. Why go inside on a warm, dry November afternoon? "Well, we couldn't see!" Coach Sylvester Croom quipped.

Which was a reasonable enough comment as the session ended around 6:20 with full-dark outside following the time-change. But what about practicing outdoors on the lighted fields? "I don't like our lights, our lights are not very good." Correction of this, in the form of re-vamped practice fields, is in the works and possibly by the 2008 season. For now, though, State plans to split Tuesday's session also between outdoors and inside.

Croom said he'd prefer working on the grass fields this week but upon rising this morning at 5:00 realized how dark it would be about the time the Bulldogs went to 11-on-11 drills. Then again, the change of venue just as Mississippi State began full-team practices of offense and defense might have had another inspiration. As in, the work would be done out-of-sight from potentially prying eyes.

Asked if he feared outside observation, "Oh, let's just talk about the lights!" Croom grinned, adding, "There could be other reasons!"

RESTED AND READY: Open dates are tricky things for coaches and players alike. But it seems the Bulldogs handled their free weekend well and came back to work with the right outlook. At least QB Wesley Carroll thought so, saying the rest did the team good for both bodies and spirits.

"I thought practice was good. We came out fired-up from the very beginning. From pre-warm-ups to warm-ups to first couple of periods we were pretty fired up and kept that pretty consistent. I think that's important coming off an off-week. A lot of teams probably have a tendency to be complacent but we did a pretty good job keeping the tempo up."

That's after getting back to tempo after the quick vacation. For his part Carroll didn't get away from football entirely while relaxing with family in Florida. "To watch other teams play on television was exciting," the freshman said. Yes, that included watching this week's opponent as he observed the LSU-Alabama game with more than casual interest. Can a player use the TV for advance ‘scouting'? Carroll believes so.

In fact, he likes this better. "You see games on film and you can't get a feel for the momentum, for what the game is really like when teams play under pressure. (Watching on TV) you see how they play against certain situations and that helps. You're going look at a cornerback, at a linebacker, see how they play when they're tired and their backs are against the wall. Just being able to see them live, where as on film it's black-and-white."

Monday morning Croom said that he'd addressed Mississippi State's opportunity for bowl eligibility once, then not again. Carroll confirmed this, that the coach hasn't broached the subject since. Nor need he, the quarterback said. Fans and media can ask about bowling all they wish, and then the players will discuss it. Otherwise…

"There's no reason to get ahead of ourselves, because we don't have six wins," Carroll said. "We've got to let that take care of itself. There's nothing we can do to become bowl eligible except win. If win against Alabama sure, that's great, we're bowl-eligible. But then we have to look at the next team, and the next."

INJURY UPDATE: The three Bulldogs held out of work during the open week were not back to full-status Monday. Most notably, #2 right OG Mike Gates is still in a red cross jersey with the cellulites of his right leg. But second OC Johnny Carpenter (right ankle) and backup CB Tay Bowser (left knee) were upgraded to limited status; in fact Bowser participated in regular drills with the secondary.

So the week-off did some good on the physical front. "(MLB) Jamar Chaney wasn't 100%, Gates has the infection and wouldn't have played last weekend," Croom said. "Just a lot of nicks and bruises. It was at a good time, our guys needed a mental break because it's been a long grind. Now I think they've got themselves re-energized to make this last push."

The open date did produce an addition to the injury list, as #2 left OG J. C. Brignone's car was hit from behind at a stop and his lower back is hurting.

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