Monday Afternoon Football Practice Notebook

They might not have ended the first week on the best of notes. But the Bulldogs seem to have gotten week-two of their preseason camp off to a strong start, to hear Coach Sylvester Croom talk. "We got some good work done today," the coach said after concluding the second Monday session.

Mississippi State worked just over two hours in shorts Monday afternoon, following their longer and full-gear morning session. While the projected afternoon storms didn't materialize, Croom was satisfied that staying in the Palmeiro Center was the right move anyway.

"I thought their concentration in shorts was very good. They're a little tired, a little leg-weary and beat-up, hamstrings and so. But that's the way it's supposed to be at this point, you have to work and go through that point. Now it's a big test the rest of the week to see if they can push through it and get better."

Where the morning contact drills were built around such aspects as first-down packages for both offense and defense, the afternoon returned to the sort of third-down work that is typical of indoors sessions. Croom said some of today's assignments were new twists on things already installed, and there were the inevitable mistakes on both sides. "But I'm really pleased with their concentration and attention. I thought we practiced fast, particularly after so many days in pads and this morning I thought we practiced fast this afternoon. That shows concentration because I know they're tired. They're supposed to be."

Tuesday will have a single session, in pads and if weather permits outdoors, before the final two-a-day date on Wednesday. And starting Thursday the schedule reverts to all-afternoon workouts as the Bulldogs get into the school side of their campus lives. Which also means the coaching staff has only a few more days of players' undivided attentions, so Croom intends to maximize the rest of this week.

"We're building up to the next scrimmage. We should get all our third-down and red-zone packages in this week, then we'll start narrowing stuff down next week and start getting the guys ready to play that we know are going to play. And a lot of it is finding out this week which of our freshmen we think are going to play, and get them involved in special teams. As of right now I'm going to wait until the end of the week before I start calling any names for sure, but it seems a lot of them are going to be participating."

INJURY UPDATE: Croom had some good news to give on the health of OG Tobias Smith, who hurt his left ankle in Saturday's scrimmage. "As of now it's still swollen but they didn't see a break. Now whether one shows up later on we don't now. So he's still going to be out probably four to six weeks but at least there's a chance he'll be back, where if it's a crack he'll be done for the season."

True freshman Smith was up to #2 at left guard before the injury. "He's very special," said Croom. "He was going to play a lot this year. At least the one thing I know is he can be as good as he wants to be. One thing I believe about Tobias, as soon as they can tape it up and he can go he'll be out there trying. That's what I've seen to this point. I think he's a fighter. But we won't put him out there until it's no risk to him injuring it further."

Croom said #2 CB Chris Nance's right wrist, also a scrimmage injury, will go in a cast. "But he'll be OK, he's practicing so I don't worry about it."

Most of the players who missed Monday's morning session (see morning report for list) remained in the training room this afternoon and did not report to Palmeiro. Nance, CB Damein Anderson (hamstring), and KO Eric Richards (hip) were the only limited players attending.

CHECKING IN, STILL CHECKING ON: Freshman Terrance Davis was cleared by the NCAA over the weekend and reported for practicing today, beginning the five-practice acclimation period. In his case it really will require acclimating because Davis was unable to attend school, and thus work out, in July with most classmates. Listed as a quarterback, Davis is a noted athlete who will be considered for other roles…someday.

"We're so far into the thing right now that it's going to have to be a little catch-up for him for a while before we know what he can and can't do," said Croom. "We haven't really given him a lot of work because he doesn't know enough to get in their with our guys right now."

Croom had no new news on freshman DL Trevor Stigers who has not been cleared yet. Classes begin at State on Monday.

UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Croom's immediate post-scrimmage evaluation was short and not entirely sweet. This morning he had better things to say after reviewing the video, and by the afternoon the coach was more upbeat about the first game-type practice.

"It was good for a first scrimmage. Particularly having one this early, this was the first time I think we've ever had one the first week of camp." Indeed, the initial scrimmage was moved up in the August schedule because State has a sizable number of starters and other veterans back from the 2007 team, and because the staff needed to get an early look at many true freshmen. Moving things up inevitably led to mixed results, particularly in offensive efficiency. Still Croom has found more things to like after a couple of reviews.

"We moved the ball well, I thought we pursued well and tackled well. It wasn't bad. Of course I'm never satisfied. I was particularly pleased with the tackling, we're running to the ball well and we're tackling. That's a good thing for our defense. We moved the ball well but we made some critical errors in the red zone. And we were a good red-zone team last year, so we want to continue that. But we want to be able to get more explosive plays. And we had some guys play extremely well."

So why the Saturday frustration? "I was looking for more out of this football team," Croom said.

"Because we do have some ability, we are fast. But still, it's just a gut feeling, that we've got to push a little harder with this group. I think every team is different and we want to demand more out of this group. I expect to get it, and we're going to find out who is willing to give it. As I told them the other night in the meeting, we're only asking for what they've got. If they do their best we're going to be OK."


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