Croom spoke to media midway of Wednesday's drills, before leaving for his evening speaking engagement at the Memphis Touchdown Club. The Bulldogs finished the third and final session of the work week with a ‘shells' practice of about two hours, the last directed by the position coaches. Just as on Tuesday, this session included both a brush-up on some fundamental aspects—in particular, kicking coverage and tackling drills—as well as specific preparations for next weekend's matchup with Alabama.
It has been a productive three-day stretch for the Bulldogs, their coach said. "The thing I've really been pleased with is the way they've practiced. They're really playing fast, and considering where we are and all the disappointment we've been through I'm really pleased."
That disappointment is an obvious result of Mississippi State's 3-6 record overall and 1-4 SEC mark. More than just the defeats is how too many of them were lost, typified by the 14-13 setback last Saturday to Kentucky. But Croom includes the close losses to Louisiana Tech and Auburn, and a closer-than-it ended decision at Tennessee. In all of them the Bulldogs, coaches and players alike, bemoan specific missed chances to make plays—and in three games just a single play—that would have reversed the outcome. And, have the Bulldogs in strong November position.
Now a State team without consecutive wins to their credit has to win-out to achieve bowl eligibility. It's a very lot to ask, yet Croom hasn't seen any signs that disappointment could turn to discontent. Just the opposite, which gives the coach as much pride as relief. "Because I've been on NFL teams that would have quit a long time ago, these guys continue to fight and play with great effort. The attitude they've shown out here, I'm really proud of that.
"Our entire team has taken the disappointment very hard. But they find it within themselves the ability after 24 hours to put it behind them and work as if they won the game. I like that attitude in the program, it's the idea of let's move to the next play, let's move to the next day and see if we can change it. The only way to get a bad feeling out is to prepare as well as you possibly can, play as well as you can, and do everything possible to win the game."
While the Bulldogs are lifting and running the next two days, their position coaches will be fanning out in all directions for a long weekend on the road. That was another reason Croom broke the typical open-week regimen and practiced Monday-through-Wednesday, instead of Tuesday-through-Thursday. The NCAA-maximum number of coaches allowed to leave campus at one time all head out tomorrow morning.
One position assistant and the head coach will stay behind and take care of other duties, while communicating and coordinating with those out prospecting for future help. But Saturday afternoon, Croom will be at home doing some long-distance scouting of the Alabama-LSU game. "I'll sit and watch that," he said. "And start studying the film as soon as it's over!"