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Defense dominates during MSU practice


Danny P Smith



STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State football team''s offense wasn''t spreading around much fun Saturday in its scrimmage. 


It is a sign the unit still has a long way to learn the new system of coach Dan Mullen. 


The offense had moments during a two-hour practice at the MSU practice fields, but the defense made the biggest statement. 


"The defense won and it wasn''t even close," Mullen said. "I was happy with our defense for coming out and playing hard. They did a good job of getting some pressure, and this is the first day I''ve really seen them get some good pressure on the quarterback, so I was happy with that. The secondary guys were making some real good plays." 


Safety Zach Smith intercepted quarterback Tyson Lee, of Columbus, once, while linebackers Bo Walters and Jamie Jones intercepted backup QB Chris Relf (5 of 18 for 29 yards). 


The defense had another big play when defensive back Damien Anderson scooped up a loose football and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown. 


Neither the first- or second team offense generated a consistent attack as they combined to convert 2 of 12 third downs. 


"We just didn''t execute when we needed to and weren''t as clean as we needed to be," Lee said. "We had good schemes and good play calls, but we turned the ball over a few times. When we had opportunities, we didn''t make plays." 


Lee (9 of 19, 91 yards) completed scoring passes of 12 yards to receiver Delmon Robinson and 3 yards to tight end Brandon Henderson. 


Lee is encouraged the spread offense will give the Bulldogs the opportunity to be selective in the passing game. He said knowing the other positions and learning everything about being a good quarterback will be keys to mastering the new attack. 


"In this offense, you have to know what everybody does," Lee said. "If you know just one position, you don''t understand the whole scheme. It''s tough, but the guys are learning. 


"This offense gives everybody a chance to play the running backs, tight ends, and receivers. On each play, there are up to four guys who have an opportunity to make a play." 


The other touchdowns came from tailback Anthony Dixon (25-yard run), fullback Sylvester Hemphill (two 5-yard runs), and fullback Patrick Hanrahan, a transfer from Alabama, who scored on a 1-yard run. 


Dixon led all rushers with 64 yards on 10 carries. Hemphill added 58 yards on 17 attempts. 


"Our fullbacks are learning how to do different things," Dixon said. "I wouldn''t say (the scrimmage) was a total waste. I do think (the offense) got some things accomplished. We didn''t operate the way coach wanted us to, but I think we got better in some areas. We are not near where we want to be." 


Mullen remains concerned about the lack of playmakers on offense. The leading receiver was Henderson (two catches for 26 yards). Wide receiver Leon Berry had two catches for 25 yards. 


Kicker Sean Brauchle made field goals of 27, 27, and 22 yards in the scrimmage. He also was successful on others in drills along with backup Derek DePasquale. 


The Bulldogs will practice Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday next week. All sessions are open to the public. 




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