September 26, 2017 10:42:31 AM
STARKVILLE -- Dez Harris hoped Thursday would be a turning point.
The Mississippi State linebacker hadn't seen what he had hoped for from his defense through all but the final day of MSU's practice week for Georgia, so he started the conversation.
"I brought it up to the defense Thursday that we had to pick it up, we had to get faster. We picked it up Friday," he said, "but I guess Friday was too late."
Such was the consensus from MSU (3-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) as it reflected on a 31-3 loss to then-No. 11 Georgia and turned the page to its next game against No. 13 Auburn (3-1, 1-0) at 5 p.m. Saturday (ESPN) at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama.
"We didn't have our best week of practice last week. That kind of showed," Harris said. "(Monday) was a lot better. We flew to the ball today. We got 11 hats to the ball every snap."
MSU coach Dan Mullen and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham saw the same thing. Anyone asked would agree last week's practice was nowhere near the quality of the week before that led to a 37-7 victory against then-No. 12 LSU. They also would agree what comes next and what happens the next time the same thing happens.
"I just think that when you win a big game, it's on to the next one. I don't think it's anything more than that," Grantham said. "I'm on to the next one."
MSU hasn't suffered very many blowout losses since it lost three-consecutive games by 17 points or more in 2012.
When it does, though, MSU tends to respond relatively well.
Only twice in the previous four seasons has MSU lost by 28 or more points. The first time, in 2013 against LSU, MSU came back and beat Bowling Green 21-20 in its next game. The most recent example wasn't as pleasant. After losing to Alabama by 48 last season, MSU lost to Arkansas by 16 points.
Twice last season, MSU started a two-game road stretch with a loss of at least 24 points. Both times, MSU lost its next game. Before the aforementioned consecutive losses to Alabama and Arkansas, MSU lost to Auburn by 24 points and then went to BYU and lost in double overtime.
The decision on wide receiver Malik Dear is still pending.
Since Dear injured his knee in spring practice, Mullen has refused to rule him for the 2017 season. Trainers cleared Dear to play against LSU, but he didn't play against the Tigers or last week against Georgia.
"He practiced a little bit last week, but we're still not there on a final decision," Mullen said. "The key is, when he's out there practicing, how comfortable he is and where he can get to. If he's at 75 to 80 percent, does he want to play the year at 75 to 80 percent, can he get beyond that?"
The returns of wide receiver Gabe Myles and defensive lineman Cory Thomas could come at different times. Mullen said he hopes Myles will be able to practice this week, but he ruled Thomas out through the bye week that will follow the game against Auburn.
Lewis growing game
Linebacker Leo Lewis didn't play very much against the pass-happy Louisiana Tech offense.
But that might not be the case in the future.
"Leo's working at it. He still has to work on that stuff. He's very conscious of it," Grantham said. "It's very new to him, the way we ask him to play, and he's making progress at it. That's probably the one area he's had to work the most."
Starkville QB Club will meet Thursday
Dr. Rusty Linton, of Columbus Orthopaedic and the team physician/orthopedic surgeon for Mississippi State and East Mississippi Community College, will be the speaker Thursday at the weekly meeting of the Starkville Quarterback at the Starkville Country Club at 1800 South
MSU co-offensive coordinator/passing game/wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales will provide a scouting report for No. 13 Auburn, which will be MSU's opponent at 5 p.m. Saturday (ESPN) in Auburn, Alabama.
This week's menu will include hamburger steak with onions, scalloped potatoes, lima beans, salad, bread, and dessert. Guests of members are welcome at a charge of $25 per person per meeting. Memberships for the season are still being accepted.
SEC sets Oct. 7 times
The SEC office announced Monday that No 1 Alabama will take on Texas A&M at 6:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. ESPN will broadcast the game live. The announcement was part of the unveiling of the time/broadcast schedule for that week's games.
Ole Miss will take on Auburn at 11 a.m. The game will be televised by ESPN, ESPN2 or the SEC Network. A decision will be announced next week.
The other games are: Georgia at Vanderbilt, 11 a.m.; LSU at Florida, 2:30 p.m. (WCBI); Arkansas at South Carolina, 3 p.m. (SEC Network); and Missouri at Kentucky, 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network).
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
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