While The Bulldogs Worked, The Cows Slept In

Saturday's Mississippi State football practices were the first ones at the MSU south farm. While the practices were closed to the public and to the media, a certain segment of the MSU community had full access - the MSU south farm cows. And while the typical college football fan, the human variety that is, hangs on every little thing in practice, it appears the cows aren't quite as impressed.

"We beat the cows this morning," said senior defensive lineman Charles Burns. "We got out there about 7:30 and they were still sleeping. They finally woke up because I saw a couple of them come up during the pass-rush drill and watch."

Any comments or suggestions from the cows?

"They didn't give us any pointers," said Charles, with a smile.

It's obvious the cows liked what they saw as does Charles when it comes to the 100% nothing-but-football week-long camp that is currently underway.

"I've never had practices like this before but it makes me feel better as a player because it's just me and my teammates instead of a lot of people and a lot of distractions," said Charles. "We are focused and locked in."

And he's not just referring to the game on the field but what happens off the field as well.

"It's team bonding because (the coaches) have it set up so the defensive guys are staying with guys on the offensive side of the ball (at the hotel the football team is staying out all this week)," said Charles. "I'm staying with (sophomore offensive tackle) Addison Lawrence and I would have never stayed with Addison but with other defensive players."

Having that time with an offensive player is not only helping to build team unity but allowing him to learn a little more about the offensive side of the ball.

"I'm learning more about offensive players because you talk to him before you go to sleep," said Charles. "You talk about where he's from, his family, then you talk about the offense and the defense. It's better than being with a defensive lineman where you just talk defense."

He's even beginning to pay a little more attention to what happens on the offensive side of the ball during practice.

"Since I've been staying with him, when I'm at practice instead of just watching my own I see myself watching his reps and telling him a good job Addy, something like that," said Charles.

But don't expect Charles to cut back on his effort when he and Addison go after each other in a one-on-one drill.

"No, I'm not easy on him," said Charles. "You can't be easy, you have to be tough and not soft."

While Charles is paying attention to Addison when he's practicing in drills, he's also paying very close attention to the latest edition of newcomers on the defensive line. And so far he has been very impressed with what he's seen.

"We have (junior college transfer) Pernell McPhee who can play anywhere on the line and brings a lot of energy," said Charles. "He's a tenacious pass-rusher.

"Then you have (freshman) Josh Boyd who is quick inside and has a great get-off. He's a natural pass-rusher.

"(Freshman) Fletcher Cox has those long arms and knows how to use them. He can shed blocks well.

"(Freshman) Johnathan McKenzie is a freak of nature. He's a big guy who goes hard and never stops. All he needs is to learn the basic fundamentals of football; why he's doing what he's doing. Once he gets that down he's going to be a monster."

Charles, who is going into his fifth year at State, is providing leadership to the newcomers.

"As a senior, I basically let them know where to line up, what to do and why they do it," said Charles. "You need to know why you do this or that in certain situations, otherwise it doesn't make sense."

As for the south farm cows, look for them to sleep in again Tuesday morning because this whole football business thing doesn't make a whole lot of sense to them. Why work up a sweat in the hot sun all the while knocking each other down when you could be spending the day standing on a nice grassy hill while chewing cud. Now that makes sense.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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