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MSU spring practice report No. 6 - Scrimmage No. 2 sees defense assert early dominance but allow offense big plays

 

 

Matt Stevens

 

STARKVILLE -- After being incredibly irritated at the effort of the defense in Thursday's practice, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen wasn't as angry coming off the Davis Wade Stadium field Saturday afternoon. 

 

In a scrimmage that was dominated by early three-and-out possessions from the defense, MSU junior quarterback Dak Prescott found holes in the gambling defense for touchdown strikes.  

 

In a two-hour scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium that was set up exactly like the first one last weekend, Prescott was asked to show more ability recognizes, throw from the pocket and make plays with his right arm. Instead of dazzling with his feet, something he's been more comfortable with in his first two seasons, Prescott finished with a pair of touchdown passes with mismatches in the middle of the field.  

 

"Dak's decision making ability is always going to be crucial in a situation like this where we don't let him make a lot of plays with his feet," Mullen said. "As long as we run it that way, you should see continued development." 

 

Prescott ended the day 13 for 31 for 249 yards and four touchdowns by working the middle of the field for one-on-one mismatches with tight ends and slot receivers.  

 

Mullen was frustrated with the defense's tendency to miss assignments and allow for big plays in the two-hour workout. The defense, led by second-year coordinator Geoff Collins, created a lot of negative plays and three-and-out drives. Sophomore defensive lineman Chris Jones, who was playing with his left thumb heavily wrapped, looked impressive playing at defensive tackle with two tackles for loss Saturday. Jones ran from the opposite hashmark to track down tailback Nick Griffin in the backfield.  

 

Sophomore cornerback Cedric Jiles had an interception and said a big emphasis was put on creating turnovers as secondary defenses were intentionally holding up players before a tackle to try and strip the football. 

 

"Coach Collins always preaches getting the ball in any way we can because the stats show that the momentum can flip on a dime if you can create a turnover," Jiles said.  

 

MSU's pair of backup quarterbacks (Damian Williams and Nick Fitzgerald) struggled to get anything going with the second and third-team offensive units. The pair was a combined 21 of 36 for 237 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.  

 

The big news was after being helped off the field Thursday while holding his left arm, Dillon Day was not an active participant in the scrimmage Saturday. Mullen confirmed the senior center wasn't likely to be active in much the rest of the spring but would be "fine" for the start of the 2014 season. The first-team offensive line reshuffled to see Devon Desper at right guard and Ben Beckwith at center.  

 

"The trickle down effect of the lineman is always interesting because that's a position we've got to stay healthy at this season," Mullen said. "It's our youngest position on the team and young guys are now getting opportunities there that they wouldn't normally get." 

 

Other players inactive for the scrimmage Saturday was sophomore tailback Ashton Shumpert and redshirt freshmen defensive end Trent Simpson.  

 

Field goal kicking was again an adventure as Evan Sobiesk made 2 of 4 field goals. The sophomore connected on a 49-yard attempt but missed from 28 and 34.  

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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