Bulldogs Wrap Up Camp Work, Prep For Game

Mississippi State held the final practice of this spring session Friday afternoon, a double-duty afternoon in fact. Because along with a couple of hours working, in shorts and headgear, on routine team matters, the Bulldogs had to do their special split-squad preparations for Saturday's Maroon-White Game.

Because football work was to end about the time Mississippi State's baseball series with Kentucky opened, there will be no formal practice report as such. Instead a selection of random notes from an hour-and-a-half of observation follows, and is free. Fittingly, I fear.

*Today's practice was attended not just by Coach Dan Mullen but his father, Bob, who came from Pennsylvania for the weekend. While here Mr. Mullen might welcome an item of MSU gear; his cel-phone holster is a Penn State model.

*HB Arnil Stallworth attended the practice on crutches, having undergone surgery for a torn ACL a week ago Thursday. Stallworth was in good humor, teasing his backfield teammates during drills from the safety of the sideline, and saying he felt fine. He is to get the staples out this weekend, and strength Coach Matt Balis is already designing a workout program for both he and walk-on WR Andrew Ellard (knee) that will begin Monday. Stallworth knows he has the option of a redshirt year, and that might well be a factor because the ‘baseline' for his return to practicing is late August. Being ready to go for the first month of the season will be a rush.

*HB Christian Ducre, TE Brandon Henderson, and TE Marcus Green were in yellow jerseys again and are not going to scrimmage tomorrow. Nor will PK Eric Richards who practiced maybe one day all camp.

*Dang it, I forgot to check on DT Pernell McPhee, to see if he was practicing or not. My bad.

*HB Robert Elliot is also unlikely to play in the Game to prevent any setback in the rehab of his repaired knee ligaments. But the sophomore has practiced regularly the last two weeks without any obvious difficulty, running and cutting just fine. Though he might still be a bit rusty as on a long sideline route today MLB Jamar Chaney—himself coming off a 2008 season injury—stayed stride-for-stride and broke up the throw.

*Both Tyson Lee and Chris Relf were throwing the deep ball very well Friday, with the most impressive catches on posts by WR Tay Bowser and WR Delmon Robinson. Today had the most use of long (over 30 yards) throws seen in camp to-date, perhaps a hint of what is to come Saturday?

*While Relf still has the stronger arm and can lay it long at 40, 50 yards with minimal effort, Lee showed more arm-strength than seen any time last year in either practice or play. With accuracy, too, though a prevailing wind did carry some of these throws a bit too long for his targets.

*Hopefully HB Anthony Dixon is a bit more focused Saturday than today, because at least four good throws in either drills or team work went right off his hands.

*If Tyler Russell attends one more MSU practice the coaches might not be able to resist putting a uniform on him. The rookie attended today's session as well, spending most of his time observing quarterback drills (footwork, handoffs, pass-selection, and more) as well as standing with the offense during team-on-team segements. Safe to say Russell will hit campus this summer running…or passing, rather.

*The offense line, first and second, is the same as began the week with the guards still ‘flipped' from the first three weeks. As in, Tobias Smith spent all week at right guard, Quentin Saulsberry at left.

*Bo Walters, who missed all last week with a hip problem, worked with both the first and second defenses at middle LB today. More often Jamie Jones was the #2 man behind Chaney. The weak- and strong-side depth chart is unchanged, and genuinely deep.

*Nor has there been any moves at either corner. At safety, though, Cameron Lawrence was taking snaps with the second team behind #1 man Wade Bonner on that side of the field. Veteran walk-on Emmanuel Gatling has been the #2 most of camp, but the freshman has gotten more snaps lately. It's entirely conceivable he could be a three-way player, as a wideout along with his duty as the #1 placekick-holder.

*Good luck keeping Dixon from exceeding the two-trick-play limit on his own tomorrow. Sadly, a certain sportwriter's suggestion that the set where Dixon takes the direct snap and either runs or throws be called, in honor of AD's nickname, the ‘Wild Boobie' has met with less than rousing response.

*Can you tell, it's not just players ready for this camp to end?

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