Bulldogs Discuss Spring Game, Camp Success

Those Sherrod brothers were just having some family fun, as former Bulldog tight end Dezmond ‘interviewed' current offensive tackle Derek on video-camera. Younger brother Derek played along, at first anyway, responding to elder sibling Dezmond's query of what he thought about the Maroon-White spring contest.

"It was a fantastic time for both the Maroon and the White squads, just the Mississippi State family, we all came out on a glorious Super Bulldog Weekend and celebrate the game of football," expounded senior-to-be Derek, sounding for all the world like an official spokesman with only the grin giving his semi-act away. "I just loved it all." But Derek loved even more when a real writer, getting in on their act, asked how Dezmond would explain the fact that his own spring games rarely produced any points?

"That would be a very good question I'd have to ask my brother!" cackled Derek. To which Dezmond could only plead lack of offensive opportunity. "They should have thrown me the ball more!"

Behind all the Bulldog-brotherly fun was fact Mississippi State fans can and do appreciate. Since Dan Mullen took over, spring football games have been much more entertaining event in all aspects and much more productive from the offensive standpoint. It's not all that great an overstatement that either of his first two spring football-fests have produced as much scoring and yardage as the preceding four or five such games combined. The 2010 edition with a final score of 26-13 favoring the Maroon team didn't come down to the last play as had Mullen's first spring game but was a good show all the same.

And, one enjoyed by an even-larger audience as a crowd officially cited at 34,127—a figure MSU officials tried briefly to pretend had nothing, nothing at all to do with the final scoreboard from the last time a game was played at Scott Field. "It was an enjoyable experience," said Derek Sherrod, all the more so because he was on the winning team and thus not required to report at 10 am Sunday to clean the stadium with those White losers. "I hoped they enjoyed it!" quipped Maroon tight end Marcus Green, whose third-quarter touchdown catch on a pass from Chris Relf sealed the victory.

Well, with the stadium spiffed and spring camp concluded, Bulldog players now turn entire attentions to upcoming spring final exams. Their position coaches and coordinators are making the first in-detail evaluations of spring game tape to go with all the other video compiled in 14 real practice days. Head coach Mullen is preparing for a very busy one-week Road Dawgs Tour.

And fans? Whether at the spring game in person, or watching the delayed replay, or just reading on-hand accounts, the Mississippi State faithful are taking what they saw/heard/read/imagine about the 2010 Bulldogs and making their own plans for the fall season. Dawgs' Bite of course is here to help, and offers this collection of comments from selected players made available Saturday. Beginning with…

OFFENSIVE TACKLE DEREK SHERROD: "Everybody came out and worked hard and we had a very successful spring in my eyes. Because we came out for four weeks and worked very hard, trying to pick up on the fundamentals and assignments that we need to go into next season. So, we can pick up the twelve wins and go to the SEC Championship game."

Q: How did the offensive line as a whole develop in spring? "I felt very comfortable with all our offensive linemen. We came out and progressed over the spring. A lot of people that weren't here in the fall, the two freshmen, came in and work very hard and did very well. Everybody just came out and worked hard and that's saying something because we have to be a unit when it comes to our team. And I feel comfortable putting anybody in any position at any point in time in the game."

Q: It seemed Coach Hevesy was demanding more of the linemen? "That's one key point, is you can never get too comfortable with yourself. Because that's when mistakes happen. You have to keep going and keep pressing like something will go wrong, therefore you can be ready at all times. I think we did a good job of that this spring."

Q: It looked like the defense was throwing everything they could at the blocking this spring? "Oh yeah. Coach Diaz and Coach Wilson are doing a great job of running our defense. They tested the offense plenty of times. That's only going to make our defense better, and only going to make our offense better. Because it's just widening our experience against different schemes, therefore it will help us. Even though it's very frustrating playing against!"

Q: Even though you couldn't really watch what they were doing most of the time, how'd you feel about the way the two quarterbacks were performing? "I came into spring thinking I'd feel confident in both their abilities. And they proved me right because they both came out and worked hard and grew into the leaders that I knew that they could be and everybody knew that they could be. They did very well this spring and in the spring game. I think the future is looking up for them and I think we're going to have a very successful season with both of them behind the offensive line."

LINEBACKER K.J. WRIGHT: "Coach just wanted to keep it simple today so we all knew what we were supposed to do. We didn't want to put in any new stuff, new blitzes, he kept it simple and just let us play today."

Q: Did you enjoy it that way? "Oh yes, I liked it. whatever they call, I like it!"

Q: It still seemed the defense threw a few things at the offense today? "We had four defensive calls, so we ran cover-two, cover-one. We mixed it up a little bit so the offense saw a couple of different looks."

Q: Did the defense enjoy putting all that pressure on the offense in spring? "We really did. Coach Diaz loved it, so we love it!"

Q: What coordinator is this for you? "My fourth one. It's a big change, every year you have to re-prove yourself in the spring, learn new defenses. But it's just something that you have to do and hopefully it's going to work out for me."

Q: Have the linebackers picked up on Coach Diaz' schemes enough that it's a habit now? "Well it's not really a habit. We try to make it out to be a habit. Right now I'm still understanding what he wants, but I know by the time summertime comes we're going to make it a habit."

Q: Besides changing your position were you impressed with how Chris White came along in middle? "I expected that out of Chris. He always wanted to play in the middle. The change (to WLB) is not too bad for me, right now I'm still learning it. And Cameron Lawrence and Emmanuel Gatling are coming along real good. You know, it's the first time for them playing linebacker so they've just got to keep getting reps and reps in. And Deonte Skinner has come a long way, he just has to get his motor going a little bit more and he'll be fine."

Q: And there's a lot of depth now at linebackers? "It is. We've got people competing for spots in everything that we do. So the more people the have, the better."

Q: What is your focus between now and fall camp? "Oh, just doing what we always do in the summer time. You know, getting better in the weight room, getting better on my speed. And just keep learning this defense, every week we're going to do something as a defense going against the offense. Just keep getting better, as we always do."

Q: What will the linebackers do in summer? "Oh, we do a lot. We get on bag-drills, work on our pass rush, work on blitzing, just working on getting the defensive set. All that kind of stuff."

QUARTERBACK CHRIS RELF: "It was just a day to come out and have fun. Every day is a work day, we always try to come out and give 100%. But today is just have fun."

"I think the O-line blocked real well."

Q: Didn't it help having the best veteran linemen on your team? "Yeah, but the White team had all the receivers! I still made some throws."

Q: How would you evaluate your whole spring? "I think it went good. I worked on my throwing game in the off-season and I think I threw pretty well today. I didn't change anything, I just threw every day."

Q: Is that what you were told to do? "The coaches didn't really make it an emphasis, it's something that I wanted to do on my own, just work on my throwing game. I know I have the running game, so I just tried to work on throwing game."

Q: Were you looking for Marcus Green on that touchdown play? "Marcus is my buddy, we're always going to have a great connection!"

Q: Have you discussed a two-quarterback rotation with Coach Mullen? "No, we haven't had a conversation about that. But I feel that if there is competition there, whoever works the hardest and studies the game and can come and execute is going to play."

Q: Did being a veteran give you an advantage this spring? "I think my experience last year helped. I learned a lot from Tyson Lee last season sitting on the sideline, I always tried to be confident and when my time came go out there and do what I had to do.

Q: And now this is your time? "Yes, sir!" QUARTERBACK TYLER RUSSELL: "I think I did pretty good for my first time out here in a game situation, as far as all the fans and the coaches calling plays. And really I think I needed that. I think I needed to come out here and see how it was for the first time, so now I've got that under my belt and know what to expect."

Q: On his first spring game pass."I was just trying to give my receiver a chance to make a play on the ball and it ended up being picked. The end result is my fault, I threw a pick, and you have to go to the next play. You just have to block the bad plays out."

Q: One play you had Brandon Heavens free downfield and the pass went behind him, was that a miss-communication? "On that we had a rhythm-three post, he takes seven steps and locks the d.b.. out. I was supposed to throw rhythm-three and I threw the ball before he broke. I don't think we were on the same page, I should have completed it. But those are summer things we'll continue to work on those passes and get better at that, and that won't happen in a real game."

"Spring game, spring practice, you see the things that you do good and the things you do bad. And the coaches threw a lot on us to see how much we could retain. You make your evaluations and go into summer as an offensive unit and can work on those things."

"This definitely gives me a lot of incentive to work hard all summer. I was going to work hard anyway and I still am. I can take from this and see what I did good and see the things I did bad and I can work hard."

TIGHT END MARCUS GREEN: "Well, the fun of the game was just having your home crowd to support you. I think they did very well. The hard work is over, the fun was coming out and showing what we've got."

"Last year I had the surgery so I didn't play in the game."

Q: Did the offense put on a show today in some ways? "Well, we just wanted to kind of show the basics. We can't just pull everything out of our hat. But we are showing that we know the offense well and that we're capable of communicating and connecting. So the main thing was to have fun today, and to execute."

Q: How do you expect the tight ends to share snaps this fall? "Right now I just make sure I do my part, whatever it is. I'm just happy to be on the field, happy to be a part of this program. Right now I just think with the depth we have at tight end, either way it goes if he puts me on the outside or inside it doesn't matter. I just play."

DEFENSIVE END PERNELL McPHEE: "The spring game was a lot of excitement, a lot of guys out there having fun and playing loose. And we were playing mistake-free, because we only had four plays that we were basically running so everybody knew their job. So we were just having fun."

Q: So you didn't show too much in the spring game? "No, not too much, we just ran four basic plays that we run out of 4-3. That was all."

Q: How do you think the defense performed all spring? "We played more aggressive, and we attacked everything that the offense threw at us. It was all-out, to-the-wall, running to the football."

Q: Did you ever feel a little sorry for the offense trying to block what the defensive line was doing? "Not really! Because I know in game situations when we play Florida and Alabama they're going to bring all types of blitzes and pressures at us. So we were just trying to let them have learning experiences for what they might see as we came with all different types of blitzes."

Q: You're a proven player, talk about some younger guys that stepped up in spring? "Guys like Trevor Stigers, Johnathan McKenzie, Sean Ferguson, they're still young. Sean has some experience, but Trev and Johanathan I think they'll be some great guys in the future as long as they keep their heads up and do what coach has to tell them."

Q: So even if you'd like to be on the field every play, you don't see a drop-off with them in the game? "Oh no, not really. Because when I see how Johnathan McKenzie is practicing it makes me feel real comfortable, because he's going just as hard as I do in practice. He's running with the twos and it seems he never gets tired! So I feel comfortable with them helping us out."

Q: Playing beside soph tackles Josh Boyd and Fletcher Cox can you see how they have improved? "I can see they've got way more mature. And going through practices against the offense I can see that they are starting to step up and be leaders on the defense. They're getting way more mature and trying to take the role of leadership, too."

Q: Was there anything else you learned about the team today? "That we had a lot of fun, and we want to win the championship."

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