August 21, 2009 9:27:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen didn''t let a little bit of rain Thursday night chase his Bulldogs inside the Palmeiro Center.
The rain didn''t become a factor.
A heavy afternoon downpour turned into a steady rain by evening an then all but ended before practice began.
Mullen wants to expose his players to wet conditions before opening the season, so he wouldn''t have minded seeing the rain.
"We might have it Saturday so we had better get used to it," Mullen said. "I''ve done a poor job of coaching if we show up on game day and I haven''t put our players in a situation they are going to be presented to them."
MSU senior running back Christian Ducre, who also has special teams responsibilities, knows the value of ball control in any weather.
Ducre said the running backs run a drill with a wet football where defenders try to strip it away before practice.
Mullen said the running backs'' ability to protect the football has improved after a sloppy start in preseason camp.
If the Bulldogs forget, Ducre said Mullen is quick to remind them because it''s one of the three points he emphasizes.
"Coach tells us if we want to get on the field, we''ve got to take care of the ball, protect the quarterback, and get on special teams any kind of way," Ducre said.
Mullen singled out Ducre and Charles Mitchell for their special teams work.
As special teams coach, Mullen looks for effort, technique, and toughness, and that''s what he gets from Ducre and Mitchell.
"They jump out and do whatever you ask," Mullen said. "They are always in a football position, always making a block, and very rarely make a mistake on special teams.
"It doesn''t shock me Christian is one of our best offensive players and Charles is the best defensive player. Hopefully that''s a role and an example for the younger guys (to understand) the importance of being an all-around football."
As MSU prepares for the preseason''s second scrimmage Saturday (at Davis-Wade Stadium), Mullen said the team will concentrate more on game mechanics.
The coaches will work the game from the press box.
"We''ll get the headphones out so hopefully we''ll look organized Sept. 5," Mullen said. "The first scrimmage the coaches were out there making sure, especially with the young guys, they knew what they were doing so we could evaluate them."
The Bulldogs will practice in helmets and shoulder pads today.