"No, I wasn't surprised. They still have a ways to go. I thought that (cornerbacks) Fitzhugh and Pegues did some good things even though they made some mistakes. (Offensive guard) Anthony Dunning has talent, but his technique has to improve. Even though he didn't grade well, I thought that (offensive tackle) Michael Gates did some impressive things. (Defensive end) Charles Burns had good effort. He is a very intense player. Whether it's in practice or in games, he plays with a great deal of enthusiasm and intensity. (Linebacker) Jamar Chaney did some good things. They are all going to contribute and will be good players before the season is over."
What was your impression of freshman punter Blake McAdams?
"Blake did an excellent job for us. He has a strong leg and will continue to get stronger in the weight room and more flexible. If he continues to get more disciplined and more detailed in his craft, then he can be a great punter for us. If he just relies on what leg strength he has now, then he will just be an average guy.
"It was huge plus for us that we were able to get him here after he committed to Ole Miss, then backed off after Coach Cutcliffe resigned. He bailed us out of a lot of bad situations the other night. And I think he can make a huge difference for us in a close ballgame against a good opponent."
How much will kicker Keith Andrews and Blake help this year's team?
"They are huge weapons for us because we aren't a great football team, by any stretch of the imagination. When we get ourselves in trouble, they'll be able to bail us out and give us an advantage again. One thing that Keith has really improved in is his kicking off ability. That allows our defense to start off in good shape. And we need every edge we can get."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.