STARKVILLE | Mississippi State hit the field early again this morning, holding the first of two split-squad sessions on Day 3 of preseason camp. Today was the first day in shoulder pads, so there was a little bit of contact going on. I’ve got a handful of observations for you, and in a bit I’ll have video of some of the assistant coaches we spoke with after practice.
• Tyler Russell had an up-and-down day. He was often off-target with his passes, but he also made the kind of throws we’ve grown used to seeing. During skeleton drills, Russell scrambled to his left and lofted a long pass to Jameon Lewis, who made a leaping snag near the sideline with Dee Arrington in decent coverage. Russell also fired a rocket in to Jeremey Chappelle in double coverage during 11-on-11 work.
• Lewis had a few drops today, including three during 11-on-11. He flashed that speed, though, turning a short pass into a long gain thanks to a block by fellow receiver Joe Morrow.
• Robert Johnson made a nice catch on the sidelines during skeleton and tried to drag his toe inbounds. The defensive coaches claimed he was out; RoJo disagreed.
• The defense had a several good moments today. Defensive tackle Curtis Virges was active, breaking up a Dak Prescott pass during 11-on-11, and he played the run pretty well, too. Defensive line coach David Turner praised Virges after practice. Middle linebacker Benardrick McKinney sniffed out a screen pass and broke it up, screaming “Let’s go! Let’s go!” after the play. Cornerback Taveze Calhoun had a tip-drill interception of Prescott. Defensive end A.J. Jefferson showed some pass coverage skills, breaking one up down the middle of the field.
• Freshman receiver Fred Ross joined offensive tackle Damien Robinson in the pit for a short while today. Robinson saw some action on the field, but Ross was an onlooker during skeleton and 11-on-11.
• Defensive tackle P.J. Jones banged up his ankle during running drills but was back on the field in time for 11-on-11, playing with the first string.
• MSU’s second session today starts at 2:30 p.m.