Mississippi State completed the last of three two-a-day dates this preseason with over 2:30 of afternoon work. Afterwards Croom pronounced himself satisfied, not just with that session but with the entire day. “It was pretty good. We picked up from where we left off this morning and I thought we made improvement. I thought we had better practices today, both practices were good, concentration was good.”
The afternoon work was done in shorts, compared to a morning session in full-pads with full-contact. And the greater portion of the afternoon was spent indoors, in the Palmeiro Center after about 45 minutes of outdoors stretching and special-teams drills. While Croom did want to avoid health risks in the heat (the field temperatures were over 110 degrees) on top of all the morning hitting, he also thought a change of scenery helped keep the players on their toes.
“I think we got something out of doing that. It was more of a situation-type practice, third downs, second-and-long, those type deals. We got a lot of situation things covered.”
From a media standpoint it was a much more low-key session compared to the morning when those aforementioned moves were made. Based on the results of Saturday’s scrimmage the staff pushed senior right guard Brian Anderson out to right tackle and inserted backup Michael Gates, a 2005 freshman tackle, at right guard; while a now-healthy J.D. Hamilton became the sole #1 at left tackle. He had shared that status Saturday with Calvin Wilson, who dropped to the second team Monday along with RT Craig Jenkins.
So far, the shifts seem to be helping with shaky blocking on both ends of the line. “I think the move of Anderson stabilized things and no question that will work out better,” Croom said. “That’s part of the reason practice was better, definitely better than we’ve been having.” At the same time the coach said that Jenkins and Wilson, who are both still too heavy to deal with fast rushing defensive ends, responded to demotions with better practice efforts.
The backup line featured a new face. Freshman defensive tackle J. C. Brignone was moved to offense in the morning and by the afternoon was #2 at left guard. This hasn’t been absolutely ruled a permanent move, but Croom likes how the kid handled the transition in rookie identity.
“I wouldn’t expect him to be ready to play any good football against South Carolina but he’s definitely going to be a good player down the line.”
Otherwise, for the afternoon session “There were no position changes,” Croom reported. “Everybody is reasonably healthy.” He was speaking of those not limited by injuries in the morning as nobody in that list (see morning practice report) shed the red-cross jersey. But freshman halfback Anthony Dixon, who only today came out in limited-yellow, was in maroon by the afternoon and working #2 at the position.
Croom was satisfied with most aspects of the second session, praising the team’s overall concentration and intensity. “All in all a good day,” he said.
“Now we’ve got to be able to break our history here. Since we’ve been here we have good practices and come back the next day and sort of sloppily go through things. That’s the challenge for tomorrow, to put two good days together.”
Tuesday will be the last morning session of camp, which changes to afternoon drills exclusively starting Wednesday.