December 16, 2012 8:28:07 PM
STARKVILLE - What did we learn?
In a intra-squad scrimmage featuring youthful players with little-known hype, the Mississippi State University defensive unit dominated early with lots of pressure and turnovers of the Bulldogs quarterbacks.
- MSU redshirt freshman quarterback Dak Prescott struggled in his first game-action simulation with a first-string offense as the Louisiana native was just 11-of-24 for 103 yards with a touchdown and a interception. Prescott was hounded all over the field by defensive ends Preston Smith, who ended with a sack and three quarterback hurries, and Ryan Brown as the redshirt freshman ended with a sack.
- It took nine possessions starting roughly at the 30-yard-line for an offensive touchdown when Prescott hit tight end Malcolm Johnson for a four-yard play-action pass.
"Their was some struggles and I need to make better ball placements on some of those throws," Prescott said. "From the line of scrimmage, I think I handled things well today."
- The running game for both the first and second string offenses was essentially non-existent beyond redshirt freshman tailback Josh Robinson finding the corner on stretch plays to the outside. Robinson, who will be featured as a possible option as a second-string tailback with Nick Griffin out with a knee injury, finished with a team-leading 59 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown.
"My role on this team in the future is going to be a motivator and inspiration for the team," Robinson said. "It ain't about me. Everybody hits that wall and wants to quit but it's about providing inspiration to my teammates."
- MSU freshman defensive tackle Nick James made his enormously large presence known early and often again with a sack and several plays of penetration into the offensive backfield at his nose guard position. James sacked true freshman walk-on quarterback Jamil Golden to stall a six-play drive.
- Sophomore wide receiver Jameon Lewis was effective Sunday on crossing routes for third-down conversions. The dynamic athlete that has yet to put a consistent stretch of games together in his MSU career ended with 67 yards on five catches.
"We got a quick route on third down where our quarterback can always come to the H (receiver - meaning the receiver in the slot) and we'll convert if you just know your down and distance," Lewis said. "Bowl practice is always good because it allows me to work on the small things. We have an advantage on other schools because we're still practicing."
- In the early battle for defensive backfield snaps following the anticipated graduation of Johnthan Banks, Darius Slay and Corey Broomfield, it was MSU freshman Zach Jackson's two interceptions that stole the show. Jackson picked off Golden both times making the freshman's afternoon less than enjoyable. Golden, a Memphis native, finished 17-for-27 for 171 yards with two touchdowns and three costly interceptions while leading the second-string offense.
- In injury news, MSU junior starting quarterback Tyler Russell was inactive for this scrimmage inside the Palmeiro Center, but the interesting element is the Parade All-American had just tape on his right ankle instead of the walking boot he's been wearing all week in workouts. Mullen said after the scrimmage he anticipated that Russell would be physically ready for work Monday.
"What I saw out there today is a lot of effort and guys having fun out there and that's really what this is about," Mullen said. "We finished up a little mini camp with a fun scrimmage and all I wish is we could've gone outside in the stadium to do it."
- The wide receivers on the outside were less than assure of themselves with the football. Both freshman Brandon Holloway and sophomore Joe Morrow both dropped more than one passes Sunday. The duo combined for 61 yards on six catches including a 16-yard touchdown pitch-and-catch late in the scrimmage.
Gator Bowl game preparation (likely the 2013 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.)
The MSU coaches and players will begin to implement the game plan for the No. 21 Northwestern (9-3).
"Tomorrow we start with normal game planning meetings just like a normal game week but it's better because out guys don't have distractions like class," Mullen said.
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.
3. Freedom Creek Festival: Still deliverin' the blues ENTERTAINMENT