September 19, 2018 11:15:05 AM
STARKVILLE -- Most coaches combat the emotions of a college football season with a 24-hour rule: players take 24 hours to celebrate a win or mourn a loss, then move on to the next one.
Mississippi State has no such 24-hour rule. Twenty-four hours after games, they're on the practice field.
Former coach Dan Mullen held Sunday practices early in his MSU tenure, but strayed away from them in his final years. They are back under Joe Moorhead and under sound reasoning.
"I'm not quite sure what the standard is across the country, but that's something every program I've been with has modeled," Moorhead said. "You come in Sunday, watch the tape, do individual and team (meetings) making corrections from the previous game, then you do a little bit of introduction for the upcoming opponent. It gives the coaches an entire day (Monday) to game plan, get the offense, defense and special teams stuff ready for when the kids come in Tuesday.
"What I like about it is, you meet, watch the film, you make the corrections and midway through practice, you put closure on that game. What you said about compartmentalizing, making the corrections, fixing what needs to be addressed and then moving forward, I think that's a good observation."
MSU is not alone in the Southeastern Conference: Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss, Missouri, South Carolina and Vanderbilt also use Monday as their NCAA-mandated off day, opening themselves up to Sunday preparations. Teams have to declare that off day ahead of time thanks to a new rule requiring players receive one entire day off from athletic activities of any kind; MSU lists open hours for the training room and weight room for those that come voluntarily, but otherwise, no meetings or practice activity is allowed.
Tight ends coach Mark Hudspeth -- who ran Sunday practices when he was the head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette -- believes in them for another reason: he likes Monday being just a school day for the players, where they can go to class and meet with tutors with no football obligations.
Of course, there are football benefits.
"What I don't like to do is I don't like to not be with my team until Monday after a Saturday game. I want to put that game to bed," Hudspeth said. "We want to put that game to bed and move on; what you don't want to do, to me, is wait until Monday to address the team about what happened. Put that game behind you within 24 hours and you can look forward to the next opponent."
There is a physical component to this system that merits consideration, since players had no rest day between a game and their first practice of the week. Hudspeth said for that reason, the Sunday practice is helmets only and hopefully gives players a chance to work out some soreness. There is also the benefit of extra conditioning for players that did not play in the previous game.
The new practice schedule is an adjustment for players that haven't done it in a few years, but overall, the results speak for themselves.
"Personally, I liked the Monday schedule better, but it's working for us so I don't have any complaints for it," quarterback Nick Fitzgerald said. "Whatever the coaches think will work best for us and the best for them to have time to game plan, that's what we were going to do."
Wide receiver Deddrick Thomas added, "It's nice to have because, coming off the game, it's fresh on your mind, fresh on the coaches' minds. It's more mental and visualizing, going back to things you could have done, your mistakes.
"It's touching up on everything and getting fresh with what's coming up."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson
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