Thursday Football Practice Notebook

Mississippi State ran through their standard game-week Thursday practice, spending a little less than two hours in the Palmeiro Center as preparations continued for the weekend home game with Alabama. The Bulldogs spent the full session indoors today, where the previous three days had been divided into individual and unit drills outdoors and 11-on-11 work inside.

At this point of the season there weren't a lot of questions for Coach Sylvester Croom after practice, other than how the team has come off the open date and prepared for a game of more than usual significance. Mississippi State (5-4, 2-3 SEC) needs one more victory this month to secure bowl eligibility, so the coaching staff has trod a careful line between stressing the season's opportunity while maintaining attention on the task at-hand.

Croom seems to believe the Bulldogs have kept things in balance, judging by the week's work. "I think from a preparation standpoint we've gotten better every week, and we got better this week at practices," he said. But, Croom added, "It just gives you a chance, that's all it does. As always we've got to perform when the curtain comes up, and it doesn't come up ‘til 11:30 Saturday (morning)."

The rivalry battle of Bulldogs and Crimson Tide, the first home game for State in a month was announced as a sellout last week.

INJURY UPDATE: S Derek Pegues was held out of practice another day with back spasms. After reporting to the Palmeiro Center for warm-ups he went to the training room for treatment. That gave freshman S Zach Smith more reps with the first unit. S Demario Bobo was in limited-purple with a mildly separated shoulder but practiced in pass coverage drills anyway. And CB Anthony Johnson left practice early to report to the training room as well, for unspecified reasons.

Croom is not concerned about any of these players. "Based on the information I have at this time we expect everybody to be ready to go Saturday." That includes OG Mike Gates who returned to varsity status for the first time since the Kentucky game, his right leg inflammation sufficiently healed after missing six practice days in two weeks. He was back at #2 right guard.

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