August 8, 2012 1:24:36 PM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State has still not entirely figured out how they are going to replace the production of a record-setting back like Vick Ballard.
Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen and running backs coach Greg Knox are communicating every day on the rotation between what could be considered the deepest set of four running backs since Mullen arrived in Starkville in 2009.
"Greg Knox kind of rolls those guys through," Mullen said Wednesday morning when he met with the media after a morning session of two-ad-day practices. "Every once in a while I want to see a certain guy run a certain play, so he'll get yelled and screamed at by me when he has the wrong guy on the field. But I don't always let him know that before it happens, so I just yell at him afterwards I wanted this guy to run that play, what are you doing Greg?"
MSU redshirt freshman Josh Robinson told the media Wednesday he calls the depth chart at tailback a "stable" because of the unique natural talents he, junior LaDarius Perkins, sophomore Nick Griffin and redshirt freshman Derek Milton.
While fans continue to think with the vertical passing game being a strength of former Parade All-American Tyler Russell at quarterback leading to more passing, Mullen tried to tamper that excitement Wednesday as the statistics show his offensive schemes have always favored the run.
"To me ideally I want to be 50/50. I guess last year we were probably a little bit heavier run," Mullen said. "To me if we come out the end of the season and we're 50/50, 51/49, I'm going to be pretty happy."
The major interest of the day was third-string running back Josh Robinson as the fast but muscular tailback that personality-wise carries himself very similarly to the school's all-time leading rusher Anthony Dixon. Robinson, who sat out as a redshirt last year, is expected to get some carries early on this season and has been the talk of fall camp with his low center-of-gravity approach to running the football.
"He has a low center of gravity so he runs low, which decreases his tackle surface and he looks chunky but it's all muscle," Mullen said. "He looks like he's got a belly on him but if you tap (his stomach), it's like hitting a table. So he's like a ball of muscle."
In other news to filed under things Dan Mullen wants us to believe but were unable to verity ourselves:
- Mullen said the first of two practices Wednesday had some very impressive plays by the defense as the veterans in the secondary were able to create some turnovers. The Bulldogs fourth-year head coach has been saying all camp fans can expect to see seniors Jonathan Banks, Darius Slay and Corey Broomfield all on the field together and not just in Nickel formation situations.
"The DBs had a really good day today and especially as you get going they're guys that have experience," Mullen said. "A couple of guys made some nice interceptions, breaking up balls, and overall. You like John Banks' leadership, and the maturity that a Corey Broomfield has. I like seeing that out there at practice. When you have seniors out there it's pretty good."
Mullen has been impressed early on in fall camp with Slay, an Itawamba Community College transfer, and sees him finally transforming that athletic ability that made him a two-time signee for MSU into a starting cornerback in his final season of college football.
"Slay is a guy who has a chance to be a really good player now that he's in the program," Mullen said. "I think the thing that hurt him last year obviously was getting in so late. And then the young guys, there is some talent at the young DBs. The great thing is they're watching the older guys perform and how they're doing it. I think that is going to help them a lot to improve quickly."
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.