Thursday Morning Practice Report

Mississippi State concluded the practice portion of their short open-week work schedule with a Thursday morning session. How short? After arriving at the Palmeiro Center at 5:45, the Bulldogs were leaving just after 7:00 to make morning classes. For that matter their coach had already left ahead of the players.

Coach Sylvester Croom had Mississippi State put in about an hour's worth of drills this morning, in shells and indoors. The abbreviated session, much like Tuesday and Wednesday, was equally divided between unit and full-team drills. There was some initial exposure to the preliminary gameplans for next weekend's visit from Vanderbilt, but primarily the Bulldogs focused on themselves; attention to technical matters as well as getting some younger or backup personnel more involved in plans for the rest of the season.

A handful of players did not participate Thursday morning for various injury reasons. Starting S Derek Pegues and rotation WR Delmon Robinson were both sidelined by shoulder problems, and first DT Jessie Bowman has been taking it easy all week as a precaution. TE Marcus Green remains in a yellow shirt, the only limited player at practice today.

So this morning the defense adjusted, with S Charles Mitchell stepping into Pegues' spot in a three-safety set along with Keith Fitzhugh and De'Mon Glanton. Up front, Cortez McRaney was on the nose with ends Charles Burns and Tim Bailey. And while Dominic Douglas is the first middle linebacker, he spent more time watching backup Bo Walters working with OLBs Karlin Brown and K.J. Wright.

On offense, Craig Jenkins remains the first right guard but former starter Mike Gates is back to full-speed and running with the second unit. The first line for now is RT Quentin Saulsberry, Jenkins, OC J. C. Brignone, LG Anthony Strauder, LT Derek Sherrod. They are backed by RT Mark Melichar, Gates, OC D.J. Looney, LG Dakota Merritt, LT Chris Spencer.

Tyson Lee was taking first turn in quarterback drills ahead of Wesley Carroll, with Chris Relf third.

Croom left practice early himself and was not available to talk to the trio of reporters who turned out for the start and finish of practices. But the head coach had said Wednesday that starting today most of the staff will be leaving campus for various recruiting trips. Seven of the ten coaching staff members can be out on the road at any one time, over this three-day span. And Coach Rockey Felker will be remaining in Starkville to coordinate the weekend's plans.

The Bulldogs will have a Friday morning conditioning session with Coach Ben Pollard, before they can begin their own weekend-off. But they will be back on campus by Sunday--unlike fellow students who have Monday and Tuesday off for fall break--to begin full game preparations for Vanderbilt (1:30, no telecast).

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