Lack of Concentration Worries Croom

The day started out well for the Bulldog football team with the awarding of their Liberty Bowl championship rings. But according to head man Sylvester Croom, the day definitely went downhill shortly after that.

"We gave them their (Liberty Bowl) rings today," said the head man. "But we've sort of being practicing like we are satisfied with having a nice, pretty Liberty Bowl ring.

"I was very pleased with what we accomplished last year, but that was never the goal. And the way we are practicing right now, there is no way we can get to where we want to go."

And that goal is an SEC championship.

"It's not good enough for us to have a chance to compete for the SEC West (title)," said Croom. "And that's not going to be acceptable.

"These next few practices are going to be very tough. Then, when we get back in the fall it's either going to pick up real fast or it's not going to be a whole lot of fun out here at practice. But we'll keep working and that will change. I promise that."

One thing that needs changing is the concentration level, or lack of.

"We did some good things, but our concentration wasn't good," noted Croom. "We had too much jawing back and forth. There were some characteristics out there that I really didn't like. When we got a little extra conditioning in, we started to focus a little bit better."

But not everybody was lacking in concentration or focus.

"(Wide receivers) Co-Eric Riley and Jamayel Smith continue to perform at a high level," said Croom. "Their work ethic is excellent. I really wish I had redshirted Co-Eric now because we he is really playing well now. I expect him to have a big year this year."

Defensively, three players stood out during Thursday's practice.

"Defensively, (Derek) Pegues is doing well. And Dominic Douglas is playing well," said Croom. "I thought that Jimmie Holmes made some plays today for a change.

"Those are the guys that caught my attention."

Another player who has stood out all spring is sophomore quarterback Wesley Carroll.

"Right now, Wes Carroll is our first (string quarterback)," said Croom. "I know what Wes can do and he's getting better."

But what he doesn't know is who will take the second spot. Two quarterbacks are battling for that spot during the spring.

"(Redshirt freshman) Chris Relf and (junior college transfer) Tyson Lee are fighting it out to see who is two and three," said Croom. "We'll find out about those two through the course of the spring and our practices this fall."

Three more players have earned their uniform numbers - C J. C. Brignone, WR Aubrey Bell and OT Mark Melichar. Also earning his number Monday but accidently left off was S Zach Smith. They join S Keith Fitzhugh, HB Robert Elliott, S Derek Pegues, S De'Mon Glanton, LB Dominic Douglas, QB Wesley Carroll, QB Chris Relf, WR Co-Eric Riley, QB Tyson Lee, CB Marcus Washington, HB Wade Bonner, LB Jamar Chaney, C Jasper O'Quinn, HB Anthony Dixon, HB Christian Ducre, LB K.J. Wright, FB Brandon Hart, PK Adam Carlson, FB Eric Hoskins, DE Tim Bailey, S Chris Nance, P Blake McAdams, LB Mike Hunt, OG Anthony Strauder, OG Craig Jenkins, OT Mike Brown, OG Mike Gates, OT Derek Sherrod, TE Brandon Henderson, WR Jamayel Smith, DE Rodney Prince, DT Jessie Bowman and DT Kyle Love.

As for injured or sick players, PK Eric Richards was out of the red cross jersey during Thursday's practice. And Jasper O'Quinn, after missing Tuesday with a groin injury was in full uniform Thursday as was Mike Gates. WR O'Neal Wilder continues to be held out of practice due to an illness, but should be back for next Tuesday's practice.

One player, Keith Fitzhugh, suffered a blow to his elbow that resulted in a bruise. He left practice wearing a sling. Kyle Love continues to practice despite a slightly injured foot, which he was limping on as he walked off the practice field.

State concludes the spring practice schedule with three practices next week, including the annual spring game on Super Bulldog Weekend next Saturday.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by email at

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