The third practice of the fall for Mississippi State was the first with anything more than helmets, as Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs donned shoulder pads for the first time since April.
“You can actually, I guess, do a little bit more,” Mullen said. “We do a lot without shoulder pads but it’s a little more realistic-looking when you have shoulder pads on, as you’re trying to teach things and you can teach it at a little more normal pace.”
The practice marked the return to full-team practice, as well, after split-squad sessions yesterday broke the team in two.
Mullen said MSU will do split-squad again tomorrow, though, on the last day of final exams for the second summer school semester, and return to full-team practices on Tuesday when the team moves camp to ‘The Farm.’
The Farm, of course, is South Farm, located near the veterinary school on, as you’d imagine, the south side of campus. The Bulldogs’ annual trip to the farm is the most intensive portion of camp, as there are no classes, no homework, and really, no anything other than football.
The team moves into the hotel tomorrow night, at which point all travel to and from practice is covered and three square meals per day are provided. Now, the players will have comfy hotel beds to crash in at the end of the day, a stark contrast from the air mattresses they’ve been resting on in the locker room in the middle of the day between practices.
“I love it,” Mullen said about the pictures tweeted out of entire position groups asleep on air beds. “It’s something we did a couple years ago just because, when you have a two-hour break, you don’t want to spend 10 minutes in the car each way and have to walk up any stairs. So, bam, we just load up the locker room full of air mattresses and they just crash there.”
Mullen didn’t have any groundbreaking news to share after practice, but he provided a wealth of insight into several of his players.
In particular, Mullen reiterated his previous statements on backup and redshirt freshman quarterback Dak Prescott: He’s going to play.
Mullen said the dual-threat, mobile passer is in a good spot, knowing he’s going to play, but also knowing everything isn’t on his shoulders.
“Knowing that he’s gonna get in the game either way, that there will be a package for him,” Mullen said. “I think he knows and I think that can make you a little bit more relaxed knowing that you’re gonna play and knowing that you’re gonna play doing things that you do well. I think he’d be a little bit more nervous if he knew he was gonna be the starter game one, which he might still be. We’ve got a lot of practices.”
Hey, Tyler Russell could always slip and fall getting out of the shower, Mullen joked.
The head coach delved a bit into the battle at right tackle, as well, a toss-up between redshirt sophomore Damien Robinson and junior college transfer Charles Siddoway. The younger Robinson is listed as the starter on the depth chart, but as Mullen said, that doesn’t mean much. The decision will be made after fall camp, it seems.
“We’re always going to try and put the best five guys on the field,” Mullen said. “If they’re two of the best five, then one of them is going to have to move somewhere else. Right now, they’re competing and we have them both at right tackle and somebody has to be a swing guy to be able to learn left. They’re both progressing well and it’s a long, hard road when you’re working with guys with inexperience because they have ability one day and they’re going to look terrible mentally the next day.”
Hopefully, Mullen said, one of them can step into the starting role with confidence and, if everyone stays healthy, he will have some confidence in his offensive line.
“If we’re 100 percent healthy, I feel good about it,” Mullen said. “The problem is we do have some depth but with some of the youth that’s there does make you nervous. I’d love the youth to be in a backup role this year instead of being forced into a starting role.”
We’ll hear from Mullen again tomorrow morning around 10:45 between MSU’s split practices.