Coach Sylvester Croom kept his team on the practice fields about 90 minutes Thursday for a non-contact session in shorts and headgear. The Bulldogs, who did not hit on Wednesday either, were clearly fresher for the lighter work-week and at times even enjoying some of the drills.
Croom allowed the Dogs a relatively easy week partly to rest them in advance of their SEC debut, and to protect the varsity from injuries as much as practical. But the coach was also generous because he liked how State went about this game-week’s work. It was an improvement over the efforts he saw in advance of the Tulane win.
“They had to be a whole lot better than they had been,” Croom said. “And they were a lot better.”
The Bulldogs were also in good shape on the whole, though one starter was missing Thursday. Safety Darren Williams was visiting a doctor to have an undisclosed condition looked at. “He had to go check on something that was sore,” said Croom, who preferred to not go into specifics until after getting an update. Croom did say Williams was “fine” and he is expected to be ready for Saturday. Williams, who moved to strong safety for the opening game, made a momentum-turning play to begin the second half with an interception that set up State’s first touchdown.
State will have a short session on the field Friday before their team meal and bus trip to Columbus for the overnight stay. “It will be our normal ‘mock’ game,” Croom said, “we won’t be out here very long. We’ll sweat a little bit and just go back in.” He also said other than moving the day’s schedule up there will be no difference in preparing for this pre-noon kickoff than last week’s 5:00 starting time.
“It doesn’t make any difference what time, you just get up and play!” And the head coach is counting on the Bulldogs being ready to play a top-twenty opponent. “I’m pleased with our practices, but now that just gives us a chance. We still have to get it done on game day. I think we’re prepared to win the game but you still have to execute. That’s the great thing about football.”