Wednesday Football Practice Report

It was their first a.m. session, and it turned into the longest so far. Almost exactly three hours after the first whistle sounded at 6:50 the Bulldogs were finally leaving the practice fields. But the change in starting time and length didn't alter an early-camp theme: good effort, inconsistent execution. Or as Coach Sylvester Croom said, "It was a little ragged this morning."

Then again, this critique did not come in harsh terms or tones. Because since camp opened with a bad Sunday session, the Bulldogs have responded with three more productive days; the last two in shells. And during these good workouts the head coach has not had to call the team out for lack of obvious intensity. Once upon a time that would have been good enough. But not this camp, because much more is being demanded of Mississippi State for 2008.

"We're moving on, still installing some stuff so you expect to have some mistakes now," Croom said. "But not as many as we had this morning, because we're a veteran team. We shouldn't be making this many mistakes."

Most of those mistakes were, naturally, in the form of penalties as State's systems are expanded for year-five. This is particularly the case for the offense which is adding to the '08 repertoire with now-veteran QB Wesley Carroll, fast-progressing alternate Tyson Lee, and the much more versatile combinations of backs and receivers they have to work with. Still extra installation will mean initial miscues and most are in pre-snap penalties of alignment and timing that the observing official tosses the flag on.

More surprising Wednesday morning were flags on the defense for jumping the snap themselves. Croom was not entirely critical of this either, as it showed the aggressiveness being asked of this year's unit. Which was also why, while stressing ball protection on offense, he praised the number of defensive strips in 11-on-11 drills.

Still, "We had too many penalties. I thought the effort was good but we had too many penalties. Offsides, on both sides of the football."

Individuals called out for compliments today included a couple of defensive starters. "(SLB) K.J. Wright did some good things today but that's expected. I thought (RCB) Marcus Washington is having good practices." On offense, freshman receiver Delmon Robinson made some eye-catching plays and starting HB Anthony Dixon continued the best early camp of his college career.

The first offensive line was back to full-strength with the return of RG Michael Gates after a Monday back problem. The second unit though was missing LT Chris Spencer with a mild Tuesday concussion. He was in a red-cross shirt on the sideline, as was backup LG Johnny Carpenter (shoulder). Starting WR Jamayel Smith was held out Wednesday after over-heating Tuesday afternoon but should be back Thursday morning.

Second center D.J. Looney (meniscus) and reserve OG John McMillan (back) were in limited-yellow, as was freshman RB T.J. Patterson (ankle).

The defense had to work without #2 RT LaMarcus Williams who hurt a shoulder Tuesday. Also in a red-cross was CB Damein Anderson (hamstring) and DE Brandon Cooper (back), neither of whom have practiced since camp began. Croom said neither injury is serious enough for real concern.

"Just normal training camp stuff and we deal with it day-by-day basis. Nothing yet that we're concerned about long-term." And after the experiences of past camps, the staff is taking things slower with hamstring situations like Anderson's. "He's close but whenever they tell me he's ready to come back I'm going to wait another week, make sure he's healthy. I feel very good about him being ready to play, I've seen enough of him to know what he can do so I don't want that hamstring to develop into something chronic."

First LT Kyle Love (toe) was in limited purple on defense. And kickoff man Eric Richards was in a red-cross with a hip condition.

Freshman S Charles Mitchell continues to impress and this morning was given a lot of snaps in passing-down drills with the second unit and even in combination with some first-teammers. Derek Pegues and Keith Fitzhugh remain the starting free and strong safeties and De'Mon Glanton the main nickel back, with soph Zach Smith the alternate free man. Still Mitchell's work-load indicates the rookie has every chance to see instant action this first college fall even at the deepest position on the defense.

With Anderson hobbled, right cornerback lines up with starter Washington ahead of Chris Nance, freshman Corey Broomfield, and Jarvis Williams. On the left corner it is Jasper O'Quinn, Tay Bowser, and freshman Louis Watson.

Since Smith could not practice, Robinson and Charles Bailey were given chances to field punts along with regulars Pegues and Nance.

Croom said that freshmen DL Trevor Stigers and QB Terrance Davis still have not been cleared to join the roster. "Right now we feel they'll be in sometime, it's just a matter of when they go through the process and get everything verified. It could happen any minute, it could be another week, we don't know."

The Bulldogs will be back on the field before 7:00 again Thursday, then Croom and selected players will report to the Bryan Building for MSU's campus media day. Thursday is also the first practice date when full pads are allowed.

Friday sees the start of the three two-a-day sessions with workouts at 7:00 and 4:00.

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