STARKVILLE – Mississippi State’s second day of practice during the bye week ended with the entire 2013 freshman signing class getting an extra conditioning session after their teammates left the field with head coach Dan Mullen overseeing the proceedings.
“I was just making sure they know what our expectations are around here,” Mullen said.
The freshmen along with several other underclassmen have received the bulk of the work in practice this week as well. Mullen has used the extra practice time to focus in on some of the younger players on his roster and let the older players heal up with the open date upcoming.
“We’ve held a lot of guys out the two days of practice we’ve had this week,” Mullen said. “Even the guys that are starters are doing more individual stuff. We’ve kind of picked and chose what we wanted those guys to do. We’ve been getting a lot of young guys reps.”
The Bulldogs have been riddled with injuries all season losing several key players through the first six games. Right guard Justin Malone, tight end Gus Walley, linebacker Ferlando Bohanna and safety Jay Hughes have all been lost for the season and other vital players have missed games as well for various ailments.
“It is a lot of injuries,” Mullen said. “I’m not sure we’ve ever had this many injuries. We’ve had injuries in the secondary, injuries on the line, running back, quarterback and everywhere. But fortunately in our program we prepare a lot of guys to get ready to go. We recruit guys to come play and a lot of guys have gotten opportunities that maybe didn’t think they would and have taken advantage and done a great job.”
Going back to Saturday’s 21-20 win over Bowling Green, Mullen made a questionable decision to go for it on 4th-and-3 from the 8-yard line going in with 4:27 remaining in the game and up by a point. Dak Prescott was stopped inches shy on a quarterback draw out of the shotgun and turned the ball over on downs to the Falcons.
“It was one of those gut feelings that you have,” Mullen said. “I was just looking at the situations and just felt like it was a situation I wanted to go for. I thought we could get it and almost did.”
Mullen stated that his decision to go for it did not have anything to do with the recent struggles of sophomore kicker Devon Bell. Bell is 5-of-10 on the year and has missed four of his last seven tries including a 44-yarder that clanked off the right upright against Bowling Green.
“He’s a pretty mentally tough kid,” Mullen said. “He’s done a really good job this week in practice. He’s worried about his technique and fundamentals and has been really good in practice. We’ve changed one little thing with his plant foot and it seems to be helping.”
MSU will continue to prepare for its Oct. 24 battle against Kentucky with practices on Thursday and Friday. Mullen mentioned the team might have Saturday off if the academic report comes back positive on Thursday.
“We’re here to get an education,” Mullen said.