Mississippi State just can’t win for losing. Or it can’t lose for winning. It gets confusing when you play against yourself.
Keeping that vague confusion in mind, MSU ended its first portion of bowl practices today with a scrimmage devoted entirely to youngsters and backups.
Why the confusion? Well, we media folk made an attempt to keep stats. So, the numbers we have are very unofficial, though they are at least pretty close to right if they aren’t right on the money.
The majority of the starters watched in sweatpants or shorts on the sideline, coaching the young guys up in an afternoon reserved for future stars. Originally slated to be played in Davis Wade Stadium, steady rain forced the Bulldogs indoors into the Palmeiro Center, working on a roughly 65-yard field.
Before we dive into numbers which may or may not be accurate, a few players stood out. Freshman linebacker Zach Jackson and freshman defensive back Deontay Evans were all over the field, and Jackson roped in two interceptions. The defensive line got consistent pressure all day, though it’s clear the depth is better on that line than the offensive version. Defensive ends Ryan Brown, Preston Smith and A.J. Jefferson were particularly impressive, Jefferson racking up a few tackles for loss and quarterback hurries along the way.
On offense, Josh Robinson ran all over the field, Jameon Lewis was Dak Prescott’s go-to receiver and freshman speedster Brandon Holloway showed the best hands I’ve seen from him, catching everything thrown his way. The receiver has struggled with drops in the past, even earlier this week, but his final two practices were by far his best.
Joe Morrow had a couple big catches, including one for a touchdown, but he also had several drops on a somewhat inconsistent day.
Now, for some quite unofficial numbers.
- Redshirt freshman Dak Prescott completed 11-of-24 passes for 103 yards, one touchdown (a four-yarder to sophomore tight end Malcolm Johnson) and one interception.
- Walk-on true freshman Jamil Golden was 17-27 passing for 171 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
- Sophomore Jameon Lewis 5-67
- True freshman Brandon Holloway 3-40
- Redshirt freshman Joe Morrow 3-21, TD (16 yards)
- Freshman Fred Brown 2-50
- Freshman tight end Brandon Hill 3-11
- Sophomore tight end Malcolm Johnson 2-11, TD (4 yards)
- Running back Kasey Akins 2-4
- Redshirt freshman running back Josh Robinson 1-30
- Michael Hodges 1-21
- Freshman tight end Gus Walley 1-17
- Sophomore tight end Christian Holmes 1-10
- Junior receiver Ricco Sanders 1-8
- Redshirt freshman tight end Rufus Warren 1-6, TD (6 yards)
- Josh Robinson 11-59 and one touchdown
- Redshirt freshman Derrick Milton 8-37
- Walk-on Justin Rogers 14-44
A few defensive notes:
- In addition to Zach Jackson’s two interceptions, true freshman safety Quadry Antoine and redshirt freshman safety Kendrick Market each had a pick.
- DB Deontay Evans had a pair of pass break-ups in addition to roughly seven tackles.
- Redshirt freshman cornerback Taveze Calhoun was active, with a PBU, a pass defended and several tackles.
- True freshman defensive tackle Nick James had a big sack, after which the 350-pounder did his signature dance.
- True freshman linebacker Richie Brown got into the backfield for a sack, as well.
- Sophomore defensive end Preston Smith got a sack and a pair of tackles for loss, and true freshman defensive end Ryan Brown recorded a sack of his own.
As groups, the defensive line and tight ends displayed a good bit of depth, keeping in mind there were no starters out there. With Holmes switching to tight end, MSU has weapons in that group.
Freshman receiver ‘Downtown’ Freddy Brown showed how he got his nickname, bringing in some deep passes. He’s got a big frame, runs good routes and has strong hands. He looks like someone who will be a big-time player in the future.
It’s fun to watch all the young guys play together, and it’s something the veterans clearly love. They get more into it than some of the guys playing do, coaching, cheering and laughing the whole way through.
But now, the focus for MSU turns to Northwestern and the Gator Bowl.