April 12, 2013 2:16:16 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- Dan Mullen blames himself for the lack of tempo he noticed on the film on the first spring scrimmage last weekend.
The good news is the Mississippi State University fifth-year head coach obviously sees a simple solution for the speed in the first few possessions of the offense.
"I joked with (MSU quarterback) Tyler Russell this week that I wanted to see more tempo and a faster pace but then I would keep coming over and telling him what I wanted him to do on every other play," Mullen said. "I think I'll let them play a little bit more (Friday)."
After a slow start, the Bulldogs offensive units quickly picked up the pace and managed to find points in the second half. Russell shined in those final 60 plays as the projected starter signal-caller finished the day 28 of 40 for 307 yards and six touchdown passes.
"I do think the secondary will be interested and motivated to prove the passing game can't go up and down the field on them in this second scrimmage," MSU secondary coach Tony Hughes said.
Mullen's biggest problem to the Friday scrimmage will be a depth problem at tailback after senior tailback LaDarius Perkins and sophomore Josh Robinson have been out of action or limited in practices this week after dealing with nagging injuries. In Thursday's indoor session in the Palmeiro Center, MSU was forced to use redshirt freshman wide receiver Brandon Holloway at tailback in the second- string offense with sophomore tailback Derrick Milton getting a majority of the work behind Russell in the offensive backfield. The injuries to Perkins and Robinson are not considered serious and are expected to be active for the scrimmage or the spring game next week.
MSU struggled to find consistency in the run game in the first scrimmage except from some random big runs by Robinson against both the first and second-team defenses.
Mullen said after the scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium he was disappointed with the start by the offense and the subsequently the offensive line play.
"That's the ones that can't start slow," Mullen said last Saturday. "Even if you're not scoring from some of those positions, you have to get a couple of first downs to flip the field and move the chains."
Holloway, who is considered one of the fastest players on the MSU roster, was a three-star prospect by all the scouting services after rushing for 904 yards and 10 touchdowns at Alonso High School out of Tampa, Fla.
"Right now (using Holloway at tailback) is a we need a body type thing right now but as a high school tailback, it was a natural move for him," Mullen said. "When you get on opportunity like this, you never know if it'll be permanent or not."
Holloway has been primarily seen working as a first-team kick and punt returner this spring but continues to learn the offensive playbook in the hope to earn more snaps this upcoming fall with so many skill position players having graduated from last season's squad.
"Right now it's just about what role I can have on a given day of practice to help this team," Holloway said. "If it's receiver then I know what I have to work on. If it's tailback then I obviously feel comfortable at that and if it's in the return game then I'm going to continue to rep that too."
MSU's scrimmage is expected to start an hour earlier at around 2 p.m. at Davis Wade Stadium in what is the final tuneup before the Maroon-White spring game next weekend.