Tuesday Football Practice Briefing

If this were a normal game week, preparation would be done by now and the rest of the week be about polishing the gameplan. Of course this isn't a normal game week for Coach Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs. Thus, "We'll be preparing ‘til about 2:34 on Saturday," the coach said. "That's when we'll stop preparing for this game. So we've got a lot of preparing still to do."

And fortunately a few more days to do it, as Mississippi State continues work on their Saturday afternoon debut with Jackson State (Scott Field, 2:30, ESPNU). As Mullen noted, with this being the opening game the true ‘prep' work remains an ongoing focus in drills. This included the Tuesday session schedule with the Bulldogs practicing in headgear and shoulder pads.

"Not bad today," Mullen said afterwards, "not bad. Still got a lot of work and a lot of things to clean up. It's just a different transition into game week, our guys have to learn how to practice to prepare for the game."

Mullen and staff kept their team on the practice fields a little over the usual two-and-a-half hours today, following a somewhat shorter Monday worked in full-gear. The emphasis, which did follow what will become game-week routine, was on passing offense and defense. This after the opening day focused on both sides of the ground game. And as usual there were selected special teams situations, a topic of more interest and intensity with the opener coming up.

For this particular lidlifter Mississippi State might have some modest advantage over the visiting Tigers in terms of scouting. While Jackson State does get access to 2008 materials on MSU, very little of it will bear on how the 2009 team intends to play the game under this new staff and in their new systems. Mullen suggested his Tiger counterpart might resort to something else. "I'd be shocked if they didn't watch a little Florida film," he grinned, then added "I don't know if that's an advantage for us or not." But if time spent scouting adds up the bigger State team ought to have some sort of edge.

"We started studying them last spring!" said Mullen. "We've been studying them for months so we'll be ready to go."

Physically most all Bulldogs ought to be ready to go by Saturday, saving of course guard Tobias Smith who has to wait to next Monday to return to practices. Mullen had not watched the offensive line in detail during today's work but is confident J. C. Brignone, whose right ankle was wrapped heavily, is fine for the opener. Though he was going to cross-check with line coach John Hevesy about options at both the center and each guard slot, with D.J. Looney available to start at snapper and Brignone owning lots of guard experience himself. Early in drills, with media observing the pre-stretch portion, veteran Craig Jenkins lined up first at right guard with Mark Melichar taking turns.

Otherwise "Some guys are sore, working to get their legs back under them," said Mullen. As far as recovering personnel the coach, asked about RB Robert Elliot, said the soph still has some fundamental work to do before he's fully-ready for action. Whether he would play this week Mullen would only say "Maybe, I'm not sure."

A bigger backfield question doesn't involve injury but the still-unspecified discipline process for senior Anthony Dixon. The head coach has not given any details of how the record-setting runner is being punished, or not, for his July arrest on DUI. Nor is Mullen tipping either hand on what the plans are for Dixon this opening weekend, either.

"He's doing everything we've asked him to do so far. We've made a lot of decisions about Anthony." Does that include whether he will play or not, or start or not, in this game? Again, Mullen gave no leads about how this internal situation is being handled.

"There's a lot of other things that we started going on with Anthony. Playing a game is not the only discipline involved in it. We have a list of about twelve different things we're handling internally And we'll handle it."

As for Wednesday, the Bulldogs will have a little more pads-practicing in store. That won't be S.O.P. either the rest of the season, but Mullen sees this date as a ‘bonus' of sorts since he also regards the previous week as an off-week…something the players might see otherwise given their training camp exertions. Regardless it will be another day in the preparation stage building up to kickoff.

"So we'll get a little bit of everything in tomorrow," Mullen said.

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