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MSU football looking to find rhythm

 

David Miller

 

STARKVILLE --¬†Inconsistency is common through spring practice, and the Mississippi State football team''s first spring scrimmage was no different. 

 

Statistics weren''t kept Saturday, as the defense had the expected dominance -- three forced fumbles and a touchdown -- and the offense delivered the occasional big play. 

 

Chris Wilson''s defense won the majority of the full-field work, but gave up three consecutive scores in the red zone.  

 

The defense won the final goal-line play. The victory earned the unit an early exit from the field and meant the offense ran sprints. 

 

"In spring ball, there''s going to be inconsistencies because you''re not in a specific game plan," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. "But part of that is learning how to deal with momentums of games." 

 

To ratchet up the intensity, quarterbacks were "live" despite wearing red jerseys.  

 

MSU''s quarterbacks got the message early when cornerback Corey Broomfield came untouched off the end, blindsided Chris Relf and returned a forced fumble for a score.  

 

Later, Deontae Skinner leveled Tyler Russell. Freshman quarterback Dak Prescott even took repetitions on the kickoff team.  

 

"They didn''t seem to complain too much," Mullen said. "Figured they would figure out they''re getting hit and get rid of the ball. We blew it a little bit quick on them." 

 

Mullen said the team''s effort was solid, and that''s what he''ll focus on when he evaluates the film. Assistant coaches will look for technique and assignments.  

 

Despite occasional sloppiness, which included fumbles from running backs Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins, the scrimmage allowed players to shake off the remaining spring-break rust in a game-like atmosphere. 

 

"Nothing replaces playing," Wilson said. "We can meet all day, watch a lot of tape, but nothing replaces getting out here and executing on the field. I wish we could have more of these." 

 

MSU will return to practice Tuesday. 

 

 

 

----Wilson likes defensive play 

 

Wilson has a lot of work to do to find three new starting linebackers, but he likes what he has surrounding the unit to help take pressure off the second level.  

 

In particular, MSU''s veteran-led secondary allows the first-year MSU defensive coordinator the chance to experiment, cornerback Corey Broomfield said.  

 

"That means he trusts us," Broomfield said. "We run some real dangerous stuff. You can do a lot of fun stuff on the defense and make plays. I can''t give away all the secrets, but we run some stuff other people don''t do." 

 

Broomfield and cornerback Damein Anderson had fumble recoveries in the scrimmage. 

 

Broomfield has liked what he has seen from young linebackers Ferlando Bohanna and Chris Hughes, especially in pursuit.  

 

"They''re smaller guys and they run to the ball," Broomfield said. "That''s one thing you like to see as a corner, guys who are gonna run and go hit." 

 

MSU''s linebackers were second-wave guys last season or redshirts. Wilson wants to establish depth, which is his greatest concern this spring.  

 

"We have to see those guys play at a high level because that''s how you win 10-12 games in the SEC," Wilson said. "It''s not just your ones because everybody has great ones. We have to get our twos up to that level." 

 

While MSU''s defense gave up a couple of big plays -- Perkins'' 65-yard touchdown run was the biggest -- Wilson lauded his unit''s play against the run, which is the offense''s strength.  

 

"Today was the first day we got to see run-pass," Wilson said. "We had been making an emphasis every day, some on pass and some on running, but today was the first time we got to play football. 

 

"We were more consistent in our run fits than we were a year ago. We got to get better playing run to pass. That''s where you see a lot of liabilities. The better we play the run, the better we''ll eventually play the pass."

 

 

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