August 17, 2010 9:08:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- With two-a-days in the books, the Mississippi State football team will continue to prepare for the start of classes and its season opener.
And much like the rest of MSU''s training camp, coach Dan Mullen was positive Monday in his assessment of the team''s morning practice.
"Good practice. I like the tempo. I like the attitude," Mullen said. "We gave the guys off yesterday, so they came out fresh today."
The team''s training camp at MSU''s South Farm is set to end after today''s afternoon practice. The team then will return to its usual practice fields behind Shira Athletic Complex. Players will have Wednesday off for the first day of classes.
The South Farm experience, though shorter than Mullen would prefer, has been a staple in each of the first two seasons Mullen''s first two seasons. The purpose for moving the practice site and having players stay in hotels is to get a real feel for a training camp.
"There''s nowhere to hide," Mullen said of the farm, "so everybody has to have a great day every day. It sets definite boundaries. When we''re there that''s training camp. When we camp back over (Shira), you''re starting to get more into game prep and your weekly game routine.
"I think that''s the greatest advantage going over there (South Farm)."
Mullen has been pleased to see his squad respond favorably to training camp adversity through the brutal heat that has blanketed the area this month. He credited coaches and players for maintaining a steady level of intensity throughout two-a-days.
"A couple of times, we started off slow and in camp get worn down," Mullen said. "The exhaustion starts to set in, and I think our coaching staff and leadership on this team has done a great job because every time that''s started to happen they''ve really jumped in, got in the middle of it, and picked the tempo of practice.
"We need to continually improve every day. We can''t come out, feel sorry for yourself and have a bad day."
Keeping players healthy is a challenge when trying to maintain a high level of energy and intensity in blistering conditions. Mullen hopes his team''s good fortune continues when asked about the relatively quiet injury blotter. He said the Bulldogs haven''t had any serious injuries since making it clear last week he wouldn''t comment on player injuries until the Thursday before each game.
"(Strength coach) Matt Balis has done a fabulous job of preparing our team for facing these types of situations," Mullen said. "Justin Gremillion, our trainer, has done a great job of keeping us healthy. That''s a big part of it, all of the secondary people making sure we''re always hydrated, we''re eating the right way, and we''re in the cold tanks. That maintenance to prevent injury has been huge."
Competition still fierce
Ideally, coaches want top-flight competition at every position, and Mullen likes what he has seen during training camp.
Though he didn''t divulge which players had made significant separation in position battles, he said, for the most part, open position battles at running back, outside linebacker, quarterback, and wide receiver have yet to be decided.
"There are a lot of guys competing for playing time, and this week after we have a scrimmage Friday night, that''ll really kind of separate it," Mullen said. "You''re two weeks out from a game, and we have to start getting ready to play a game at that point. This week is still training camp. The threes are getting the same number of reps and the same chance to compete."
Team still waiting for decision on Michael Carr
With classes scheduled to start Wednesday, freshman receiver Michael Carr and the MSU coaches are still uncertain about the former West Point High School standout''s status with the NCAA.
Carr has yet to be cleared but has been practicing with the team as part of an NCAA rule that allows players awaiting NCAA certification 14 preseason practices. Monday was Carr''s final practice day.
"Hopefully we get it done today. Not sure," Mullen said. "We''ve got to get it done before school starts."
Green named to watch list for Mackey Award
Junior Marcus Green was named Monday to the Mackey Award preseason watch list. Given annually to the best collegiate tight end, the John Mackey Award will be announced on Dec. 9.
A native of Scooba, Green emerged as the Bulldogs'' primary pass-catching tight end during his sophomore season as he hauled in 27 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns. He had five catches for 100 yards and a score against LSU, and caught two balls for 25 yards and a touchdown in MSU''s Egg Bowl victory.