Typically, defenses are ahead of offenses in the offseason, but led by Dak Prescott, Mississippi State’s offense shook that notion in the first scrimmage of spring practice for the Bulldogs.
Powered by Prescott, freshman quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and a host of young skill position players, MSU’s offense found the endzone frequently, both by air and ground, part of an entertaining day in Davis Wade Stadium.
In particular, junior receiver Fred Ross built on his already-impressive spring, catching eight passes for over 100 yards out of the slot. Junior Fred Brown and freshman Jesse Jackson both (unofficially) totaled somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 yards, including a nice touchdown catch by Jackson.
The most exciting play out of the backfield came from junior Brandon Holloway, who scampered over 70 yards untouched for a quick score. Redshirt freshmen Dontavian Lee and Aeris Williams both had solid days, as well, with a pair of scores for Lee and one for Williams, too.
However, as Mullen said after, the key for the young playmakers is to be consistent. They can’t make a play, then miss a block on the next down because they were too busy celebrating.
“They do some really good things sometimes,” Mullen said. “But for us to be great, they have to do really good things every time.”
Now, to say the offense did well doesn’t necessarily mean the defense looked bad. On a unit replacing starters at every position and working under a new defensive coordinator, some growing pains are expected.
“You see some definite improvements,” Mullen said of the defense under Manny Diaz. “You see some things that are going to be drastic differences from what we’ve done before. Trusting their job, trusting their teammates, trusting all the fits and not just sitting there.”
While several wizened veterans were on the field Friday, it was a linebacker who’s never played a down in the SEC that impressed more than anyone. Redshirt freshman Gerri Green, one of the most physically impressive players on the roster, was all over the field. Of his eight tackles, four were for loss and two were sacks. A player with his combination of size and speed seems ready to fill a similar role to the departed Benardrick McKinney, one of both run-stuffing and quarterback-chasing.
Just as other young players, though, Green has a ways to go before he can reach McKinney’s level. He’s got to learn assignments, how to hold gaps and how to read offenses, but that’s what this time of year is for.
Said Mullen, “Spring is all about player development.”
MSU’s players are off for the rest of Easter weekend to go home and be with their families before coming back next week for the second half of spring practice. Activities conclude on Saturday of Super Bulldog Weekend with the morning Maroon-White game in Davis Wade Stadium.