April 6, 2012 3:19:55 PM
STARKVILLE - The defense was embarrassed at its performance in the first scrimmage and the veterans of this Mississippi State University football defense weren't about to allow this to happen Friday afternoon for the scrimmage that consisted of over 140 plays.
Despite the final stretch in a two-minute offense situation, the first-team offense was unable to consistently move the football and was held to just three touchdowns throughout the scrimmage.
"Not real pleased with the offense today (because) I want to see cleanliness and consistency but on four of our first 13 drives we had more than one first down," Mullen said. "That's not moving the ball and playing the field position game. Obviously the defense dominated today."
Mullen and Koenning was less than impressed with the performance of junior quarterback Tyler Russell and the goal for them is to reign the former Parade All-American in and make him use his checkdown options instead of trying to find the deep ball on nearly every occasion.
"I think now as I'm matured I'm able to sit back and say 'look Tyler it's first down, what do you want to do right here?'," Russell said. "On second down, let's go ahead and take a shot. If you don't get it then it's third down and five. It's all about managing the game."
Russell and backup quarterback Dak Prescott had a pair of touchdown passes including Russell finding Jameon Lewis on a crossing pattern for a 15-yeard score.
"(Tyler) was thinking and trying to just play and not be a leader out there today," Mullen said.
The defensive line seemingly found itself in the backfield on most plays making the MSU offensive line looked confused and blown off the football on most plays. Even on large pass plays, MSU offensive coordinator Les Koenning said they might go down as minus plays because of how long the ball stayed in the quarterbacks hand or would've been sacks in a game in which the signal callers were allowed to be touched.
"(Tyler gets to where he wants to take a big play and you just have to be patient," Koenning said. "It's about moving the football, getting first downs and taking your shots when you get them. You can't take a shot every time. If you take a shot every time, it's feast or famine."
Here's a couple of nuggets that I picked up from the near three-hour workout that left a lot of confidence and smiles from the MSU staff.
- Mississippi State's first-team offense implemented the Wildcat formation with junior wide receiver Chad Bumphis and sophomore athlete Jameon Lewis taking the direct snap run from center.
"We wanted to use it today because it gives us flexibility with Jameon and Bump but it also gives us flexibility if we leave Tyler in the game with it and if we get beat up at quarterback a little bit then it gives us a way to move the football we think.," Koenning said.
Mullen had a less than nice conversation with Bumphis as the junior was dancing laterally on the run instead of going up the field and making the play gain barely a single yard.
"Those guys just got to get used to it and to see it," Mullen said. "Unless you do it live, you have to get used to reading the holes but we just put a little base stuff in for them. Pleased with how they're handling it and the great thing is both Chad and Jameon were high school quarterbacks so being in that position is not a real change for them."
- MSU walk-on kicker Charles Grandfield missed a 42-yard field goal off the crossbar and a 45-yard attempt short. It looks as if MSU signees Devon Bell and walk-on Evan Sobieski will have more than a healthy opportunity to win the kicking jobs this fall.
- Josh Robinson was clearly the most effective running back and had a 25-yard run today against the second-string defense where he made four different tacklers miss.
"He might need to learn his protections before he gets too happy with himself," Koenning joked Friday. "That's usually what you expect out of a young back."
The redshirt freshman continues to work with the second-team offense and is still working on getting his blocking assignments down but has been efficient when given carries this spring.
"I think we were sloppy on the offensive line and that affected things today with the running game," Mullen said. "We'll evaluate it on film and see how they did hitting the hole."
- Johnthan Banks called senior defensive back Darius Slay "a starter" and could be used against 3-wide sets this season at corner with Banks and Corey Broomfield in the Bulldogs backfield. The transfer from Itawmaba Community College has made some big hits and deflections on the ball this spring on MSU first-team wide receivers.
"They have some good guys to learn from (Banks and Broomfield) and that can really raise the play of the twos," Mullen said. "The expectations at that position are very, very high."
- The two-minute offense was very efficient for both the first and second-team units Friday and Russell said right now that when the tempo speeds up is when he starts to get into a rhythm and make better reads. This leads to the question of: will MSU and Dan Mullen use a no-huddle system (a la Oregon) a little more often in regular game situations.
The next practice is Tuesday starting at 4:30 p.m. which is of course, open to the public.
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