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Mullen finding out who can contribute


Danny P Smith



STARKVILLE -- Saturday was like Christmas morning for Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen. 


By the end of a two-and-a-half hour spring workout, it began to feel a little that way with a cool front blowing through. 


Mullen was anxious to watch the film of what the Bulldogs had just done on the practice field so he could find out which players were ready to contribute. 


"We get to go in and see what kind of hand we''ve been dealt, see who can play, who likes contact and who is physical," Mullen said. "The first couple of days there is some learning, but when you are not in pads you can''t tell all that much." 


The spirited-practice, viewed by approximately 200 spectators, ended when the offense scored on a option reverse pitch from quarterback Tyson Lee, of Columbus, to running back Christian Ducre. 


That play capped four consecutive scores on drives inside the 10-yard-line by the offense after the defense had established a sizable lead. 


Mississippi State strength coach Matt Balis kept score and awarded points based on execution and effort on both sides of the ball. 


Mullen was pleased with the way the offense came to life because that hadn''t been the case throughout the entire practice. 


"I was really disappointed in the execution with the first-down scrimmage we had with the offense, but they really toughened up when we got down to the goal line and punched the ball in a whole bunch," Mullen said. "When you get down to the goal line, that''s crunch time. The offense came through and made a bunch of plays at the end." 


After Ducre was able to score, a joyous celebration erupted from the maroon-wearing offense. 


The reason those players were happy was because the defense had to run extra instead of the offense. 


Lee was happy to get the offense going, and be a part of the deciding play. 


"That was fun," Lee said. "Once we got going, we started moving the ball really well. It''s a little bit different in pads and you start getting contact." 


Lee and Chris Relf are the two primary quarterbacks being used by Mullen and offensive coordinator Les Koenning. 


Mullen admits it is tough to run a spread offense when there are only five receivers on the team, but intends to keep working at it and likes the the way the quarterbacks are picking up things. 


"Tyson obviously has a whole lot more experience and I think it''s a little easier for Tyson to make the adjustment," Mullen said. "Chris did some nice things by running around and making a couple of plays. As Chris gains his confidence and gets a chance to get some experience, I think he will have an opportunity to help us." 




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