April 1, 2011 9:05:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Dan Mullen wasn''t a happy football coach following Mississippi State''s spring practice session Thursday.
On one hand, he was pleased by his defense''s domination in parts of the 11-on-11 work in the last block, but turnovers, procedural penalties, and botched snaps drew his ire.
Deontae Skinner and Dennis Thames were among players to intercept passes Thursday.
The offensive miscues forced all of MSU''s offensive players to run extra -- per the usual arrangement depending on which side of the ball wins the team portion -- but to go over extra plays for nearly a half hour after the defense left the field.
"The receivers, I thought, made some big plays," Mullen said. "The quarterbacks made some big throws. But the offensive line was really, really bad. (They''ve) got a long way to go, but it''s a really young group. (Offensive line coach) John (Hevesy) will get them going in the right direction."
Without injured guards Tobias Smith (shoulder) and Gabe Jackson (knee), MSU''s rotations went a little bit deeper and were more frequent.
The inexperience was evident, as redshirt freshman center Dillon Day had a trio of shotgun snaps go over quarterback Chris Relf''s head. The frustration was evident in the coaching staff as well as the players.
"Some inconsistencies, and that''s a lack of mental toughness," Mullen said. "That''s easy (correcting snaps). You can get that fixed tonight: Take a ball home, sit in your dorm, and snap the ball 10,000 times. I''d imagine it''d be pretty good tomorrow if you do that. That''s got to be a commitment level out of our offensive line and centers."
MSU will return to the practice field today in what Mullen describes as a "lighter workout" ahead of Saturday''s session.
Several players were limited Thursday, but the coaching staff received positive news about sophomore guard Gabe Jackson.
A starter in 2010, Jackson had an MRI on his injured knee come back negative, but he was held out of contact drills.
A team spokesman said Jackson has been diagnosed with a sprained knee.
"That''s a guy that''s played a bunch of football, so we need him back just to get the consistency going," Mullen said, "but we don''t need to rush him back for reps. There''s other guys who need reps."
Sophomore safety Nickoe Whitley was limited due to an inflatable cast on his right leg, which will keep him out of practice until Tuesday at the earliest, Mullen said.
Senior tight end Kendrick Cook was fully dressed but was limited due to a nerve issue in his back.
Though the injury isn''t deemed serious, Mullen said an MRI was sent to a specialist. They are awaiting word on the diagnosis before Cook is cleared to return to the field.