Monday Football Practice Notebook

Mississippi State continued Egg Bowl week preparations with a two-plus-hour practice session Monday. The Bulldogs worked eight periods of unit drills outdoors before moving into the Palmeiro Center for team-on-team situations. Either way, Coach Sylvester Croom was pleased. "It was a good start to this week. Our concentration was good, our intensity was good."

With the game-week's schedule moving up a day, Mississippi State worked in shoulder pads and helmet Monday. It will be the last practice in any padding, too, Croom said, adding that "We can't get anybody nicked-up. We've got a couple of guys that are questionable, we hope they're going to play but we're not sure right now."

INJURY REPORT: Specifically, starting CB Anthony Johnson and DE Avery Hannibal who both were sidelined today. Johnson took a helmet-hit in the Arkansas game to his lower back and to one side, effectively producing a hip-pointer. Hannibal is bothered by a sore knee.

Also held out of work today were OT J.D. Hamilton with a aching knee of his own; and FB Eric Hoskins with a ‘stinger' suffered a week ago.

RIVALRY ROOKIE: He agrees that this is the most important game of Mississippi State's season. But not because it's a rivalry to QB Wes Carroll. "This is the biggest game of the year because it's the next game," Carroll said. "And this will set us up for an automatic winning season and a better bowl bid."

There's no small irony that, as his coach speaks of nothing mattering but winning this rivalry game, it's up to the true freshman to stick by the normal one-at-a-time talk heard the rest of the season. Not that Carroll hasn't heard an earful already around campus, that State must, absolutely must win Friday.

"I've been getting pep-talks from everybody telling me how important this game is to them, to their family, to their friends and everything!" he reported. "I don't know much about this rivalry. The first I heard about it was when I talked to Coach Croom on my official visit, talking about the Egg Bowl."

Now before Bulldog faithful begin to question the quarterback's attitudes, it's worth recalling that this is the guy who has to keep the coolest head on campus all week. Especially Friday morning. And it suits Carroll's personality anyway.

"I think it's a good thing that this is just another game to me. I don't want to stress myself out about ‘oh, we've got to win this game for bragging rights'." Instead, the quarterback will allow everyone else stress themselves into an Egg Bowl Week frenzy while Carroll prepares to play the ball game.

COMING TO TOWN: Three bowl committees have requested credentials for Friday's game as of this afternoon. The Chik-fil-A Bowl, the Liberty Bowl, and the Independence Bowl all are sending representatives to the Egg Bowl, to observe Mississippi State since the Rebels are not bowl eligible.

STILL AVAILABLE: As of Monday afternoon MSU officials reported that less than 3,000 tickets remained for sale. All are $40 ducats. The MSU Ticket Office is open 8:00 to 5:00 Tuesday, and 9:00 to 3:00 Wednesday despite that being a University holiday.

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