August 7, 2009 9:22:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- The intensity seemed to rise with the temperatures Thursday morning at the Mississippi State football practice fields.
The Bulldogs seemed to take things a little more seriously in their second day in pads.
"They came out better than (Wednesday)," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. "They weren''t really used to being in pads, but this was what we expect our normal practices to look like."
And what did Mullen see?
Junior wide receiver Leon Berry and junior safety Zach Smith were locked in a heated battle in one drill and one that caused senior wide receiver Brandon McRae to challenge his unit.
"That drill was made for the defensive backs to run us over and I was telling our receivers we''ve got to hold our ground because we''ve got to set the tone," McRae said. "That''s how it''s going to be for the season."
Berry remembers running the drill in the spring and the receivers being dominated.
After meeting with coaches, the receivers decided to give a better effort.
Berry, a transfer from East Mississippi Community College, knows he will have to perform at a different level to succeed in the Southeastern Conference.
"You''ve got to be tough and got to be physical," Berry said. "I''m just trying to work hard. I know it''s hot out here, but you''ve just got to push through it."
Mullen knows the safeties aren''t going to back down.
"When you have guys with the toughness and leadership back there of Charles Mitchell and Zach Smith and Marcus Washington as a senior, it''s a group we expect an awful lot out of," Mullen said. "Those are guys we are depending on with this team, and they are also trying to be good leaders to young guys."
Smith, a junior, believes he is a leader after two seasons. He''s not a big talker, but will give his opinion if necessary. He said the team leaders need to step up and to take charge.
"We''ve got a lot of leaders coming up and are demanding things out of players," Smith said "All of the coaches are high in intensity, so you''ve got no choice to be intense."
Smith had an interception in team drills, and the practice ended when senior defensive back Marcus Washington intercepted freshman quarterback Tyler Russell.
Mullen said he will continue to add more aspects of the playbook are added each day.
"(Thursday) is all new stuff from (Wednesday), and (today) will be all new stuff," Mullen said. "The first week is a lot of installation, then you go back and clean it all up."
n Cooper to the eye doctor: Junior defensive lineman Brandon Cooper left practice early for what MSU team spokesman Joe Galbraith said was a visit to the eye doctor.
Mullen said there have been no other problems with injuries in the first four days of practice except for usual bumps and bruises.
When the Bulldogs dress out in full pads for this morning''s workout, Mullen expects things could change.
"It will be a black and blue practice. That''s for sure," Mullen said.