September 6, 2009 6:19:00 PM
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- There were times all Mississippi State freshman wide receiver Chad Bumphis could do in preseason practice was jog.
With a sprained foot, Bumphis wasn''t able to go full speed.
But Bumphis was healthy and ready to go for the Bulldogs on Saturday.
He showed Mississippi State coaches and fans what could be in store for the future with a pair of touchdown receptions in a 45-7 victory against Jackson State.
With scoring catches of 15 yards in the first quarter and 7 yards in the third quarter, Bumphis showed no signs of being hampered by an injury. He said the foot didn''t bother him at all during the game and didn''t let the situation keep him from making strides.
"I was still working out," Bumphis said. "I was pretty much lifting weights the whole time I was out. Every time we had a meeting, I was there listening."
Mississippi State will have to take the good and the bad early with Bumphis.
Along with his touchdowns, Bumphis was guilty of a holding penalty that brought the ire of coach Dan Mullen.
"As with most freshmen, the times they are going to be at their best is when you put the ball in their hands," Mullen said on his Sunday teleconference. "Once we got the ball in his hands, he did some special things. That''s what we kind of expected out of him.
"The thing about (freshmen Bumphis, Brandon Heavens and Chris Smith) is those guys cleaning up and learning to play without the football in your hands and doing all of the little things. That''s where we need to make big strides and that''s where those guys have to understand the game."
Mullen said Bumphis, Heavens and Smith must adjust from getting the football all the time like they did in high school to having to block and run good routes in college.
"The intensity and discipline they need to play goes up," Mullen said.
Room for improvement
Mullen knows that he''s not perfect, either.
Even as he talked about the players making mistakes, Mullen understands he must get better.
It was the first time for Mullen to be back on the sideline after working in the press box for two years.
"There are just a bunch of game-management things that I need to be smoother with our transition," Mullen said.
Mullen said it was good to get the win and spent the time celebrating at home Saturday night with his family.
The Bulldogs don''t have much time to celebrate before traveling to Auburn at 6 p.m. Saturday (FOX SportSouth).
Mullen and his staff were already spending Sunday afternoon getting ready for the challenges that Auburn presents.
"At this point, we''re 100 percent switched in the next direction," Mullen said.
The only player Mullen has listed as questionable for the Auburn game is junior tight end Brandon Henderson.
Mullen expects senior quarterback Tyson Lee, of Columbus, back even though he experienced shoulder spasms in the second half. Lee spent most of the second half being worked on by the trainers.
Redshirt freshman offensive guard Tobias Smith, of Columbus, is also expected to be back from torn ligaments in his ankle.
Boost from Dixon
Mullen expects the return of senior running back Anthony Dixon from a one-game suspension to be a plus for the offense.
Dixon was disciplined due to being arrested in July and pleading guilty to driving under the influence.
Even though running backs Christian Ducre'', Arnil Stallworth and Robert Elliott filled in nicely, Mullen knows Dixon provides a little something extra with his size and power.
"Anthony is a very talented player and can do some real good things with the ball in his hands," Mullen said. "I hope that will be a push and big plus for us next week."