Defense steps up at Mississippi State practice

April 1, 2009

Danny P Smith -


STARKVILLE -- Tuesday''s spring football practice at Mississippi State ended differently than the previous one. 


After the offense scored a touchdown to end a scrimmage Saturday, the defense made a statement Tuesday at the end of a three-hour practice. 


Linebacker Jamie Jones intercepted a pass from quarterback Chris Relf that caused the defense to celebrate much like the offense did Saturday. 


"I broke on the ball and really didn''t see it until it hit me," Jones said. "I grabbed it and basically held onto it." 


Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen believes the defense is improving each practice. 


Defense might not be Mullen''s specialty, but he appreciates the job defensive coordinator Carl Torbush and the position coaches are doing. 


Mullen likes the defense''s depth, especially at linebacker. 


"We have some younger players getting out there," Mullen said. "You''d like to have 22 deep on defense that you can roll through during the course of the game so we can play with the intensity we want to play with. We''ve got to keep working those players." 


Jones, who sat out his freshman season as a redshirt in 2007, is one of those players. Last season, Jones appeared in 12 games (one start) and had six solo tackles and 10 total. He is excited about the defense''s potential. 


"Once we get everything together, we can work as a team and get focused," Jones said. "We just want to keep flying around every day." 


MSU has completed four days of its 15 spring practices. The Bulldogs will wrap things up April 18 with the Maroon-White Spring Game on Super Bulldog Weekend. 


MSU worked out only Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday last week, and will practice Friday this week. Each week-day session begins at 3:30 p.m. and is open to the public. MSU goes out at 10 a.m. Saturday. 


Mullen said the players continue to give good effort and are slowly grasping the concept of the spread offense. His main concern is staying healthy on offense as only two receivers are able to practice.  


"I''m going to put an ad in the school paper and go watch some intramural football to find some wide receivers," Mullen said. "It''s hard to run a spread offense with only two wide receivers on the roster." 


To make up some of the difference, Mullen has moved mid-term signee Cameron Lawrence from quarterback to receiver. 


"When you have a high school senior quarterback out here and he''s your starting wide receiver, that makes it rough duty," Mullen said.