"As far as I'm concerned camp goes through next week," the Mississippi State
head coach said at the conclusion of Tuesday's practice. "Saturday will be
our first scrimmage, and the way I planned it the end of camp will be the
end of next week. That will be the end of our installation, all scrimmaging
will be done, and we'll start getting ready for Tulane
Until then, the Bulldogs might as well act—and practice—as if camp has not
broken. Even with the end of two-a-days and the start of the fall semester
Croom and staff are pushing the players to get up to a more game-like
This wasn't always easy on Tuesday as various units are starting to show
some strain from August injuries. None are serious and most of the hurting
will be available. But their absence isn't helping as the State staff
continues preseason instruction and experimenting, all the while watching
the clock tick down towards kickoff 2004.
"We're not going to stop working," Croom said. "We're going to continue to
work hard through the scrimmage and find out who can play. Then the guys
that we need to get ready for the game we'll start backing off of them, but
we've got an awful lot to do and the only way to do it is work hard."
The unit most affected by injuries is the offensive line, which was already
an area of great concern. Three first-team blockers were either out or
limited Tuesday. "Our first unit is now our second unit, and that's a
problem," Croom said. "Any time you can't keep the five offensive linemen
together it's a problem. But there's nothing we can do about it, somebody
else has to step up."
Left guard Johnny Wadley has been limited all camp as he gets back to full
strength on a repaired ankle. Right guard Will Rogers also wore the yellow
‘limited snaps' jersey another day after hurting his ankle last week. This
day left tackle Richard Burch was sidelined totally in a red-cross jersey
with his left ankle in a boot.
James Cochran moved up into Burch's place, while Rogers was spelled for
full-speed work by Otis Riddley. More interesting was that former defensive
lineman Devrick Hampton was already running #2 left guard only one day after
he was moved. The second line this day was, left-to-right, tackle David Price, Hampton, center Brian Anderson (now snapping after a week at left
guard), Riddley, and Donovan Davis. The third group of linemen included
guards Royce Blackledge and Roland Terry, tackle Jeffery Farr, and center
Avery House. Dio Herrera is working at reserve guard and John Davis is the
It's all well and good that some backups are taking more snaps for the
moment, but Croom wants the first team back working together ASAP. "It's
just a lot of nicks and stuff," Croom said. "Nothing that's keeping them out
for long, just nagging things."
Quarterback Omarr Conner (groin) was allowed to practice after missing the
afternoon session Saturday, but was limited. "He's got a little strain, he'
ll be back to practicing soon," Croom said. Kyle York and Aries Nelson took
turns as co-#1s but precocious rookie Mike Henig continued to impress in
passing drills against the defensive secondary.
Other limited players were defensive end Stephen Arant, deep snapper Russell Cook, and fullback Bryson Davis. Non-practicing players were wide receiver
Ray Ray Bivines, running back DeMarcus Johnson, and Burch.
The list of non-participants might have impacted on the overall tone of
practice. "Nothing new today," Croom said, "nothing spectacular, that's for
Freshman tight end Jeremy Jones was out in shorts and headgear as he awaits
full activation. He should be able to join drills by the end of the week
after serving his five-day acclimation period.
ESPN has notified Mississippi State who will serve as the broadcast crew for
the season-opening game with Tulane. Eric Collins will provide play-by-play,
Andre Ware the color commentary, and Jimmy Dykes will work the sidelines.
Gametime is 5:00 for the kickoff of the Sylvester Croom Era at Mississippi
David Murray is the editor of Dawgs' Bite magazine and the featured writer for the Dawgs Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. You can contact him by email at email@example.com
Two-a-days are over. The preseason most definitely is not, says Coach
Bulldogs open single workouts with an afternoon session.