September 8, 2009 10:11:00 AM
Danny P Smith -
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State football team went back to business on Labor Day.
Following a 45-7 victory against the Jackson State on Saturday, the Bulldogs practiced for one hour Monday morning.
Even though it was considered a light day, practicing only in helmets, the Bulldogs addressed several areas.
"We did a lot of running and conditioning," MSU senior cornerback Marcus Washington said. "We''re looking forward to Auburn because that''s a big game for us."
The Bulldogs enter Southeastern Conference play at 6 p.m. Saturday (Fox SportsNet South) against the Tigers.
MSU coach Dan Mullen knows the competition steps up at Auburn.
"Now it''s the real deal for our players," Mullen said. "We go from (playing) an in-state, non-conference, historic rival to a bitter conference game.
"We want to find a way to win the SEC West. Our first step is this Saturday at Auburn."
Looking for road win
For the Bulldogs to get things going in a positive way in the SEC, they must end their troubles on the road.
MSU didn''t have a road win last season, and averaged 9.2 points away from home.
It was the fourth time in eight seasons the Bulldogs went winless in opposing stadiums.
History also will be against MSU as Auburn is 3-0 all-time in games played Sept. 12, and hasn''t been scored upon on that date.
Mullen hasn''t had a chance to watch too much film of the Bulldogs'' loss to the Tigers, the first 3-2 score in the history of the SEC.
Mullen remembers watching the game live last year while he was an assistant at the University of Florida because the Gators had an early game.
From what he did see, Mullen said it appeared to be a defensive struggle with both teams having opportunities for more points.
Mullen said the game doesn''t have anything to do with this year, but he wouldn''t mind seeing the result reversed.
"I have no problem with 3-2 games as long as we have the 3," Mullen said.
Mullen hopes a pair of Columbus natives will be able to do more this week.
Freshman offensive guard Tobias Smith (ankle) is back at practice, and Mullen plans to make a determination about his availability for the Auburn game by Wednesday.
Even though senior quarterback Tyson Lee (shoulder) wasn''t able to throw the football and was only able to hand off in Monday''s practice, he expects to be 100 percent by Saturday.
Mullen would like to have Lee so he can continue to use a two-quarterback system at Auburn.
"Auburn is going to give us a little bit of a different challenge, so we might go in a different direction than we were last Saturday," Mullen said. "We might even open it up more with our quarterbacks now having a game under their belt and a little more comfortable with the system."
There was correction made on the participation chart for MSU''s first game of the season.
Freshman wide receiver Dennis Thames, of Louisville, didn''t play against Jackson State.
That adjustment meant only seven scholarship freshman played in the opener.
Thirty-three Bulldogs saw their first game action against Jackson State, and 44 percent of the 75 players who saw action stepped onto Davis Wade Stadium for the first time for a game.
MSU Athletic Director Greg Byrne said the university is studying ways to deal with large crowds expected at home games this season.
The third largest crowd in school history (54,232) was bottled up at the gates prior to kickoff against Jackson State and found it difficult to enter the stadium.
Byrne held a three and a half hour staff meeting Monday morning to discuss improving the situation.
"We''ve still got some work to do," Byrne said. "It was a good problem to have. We''ll grow with it."