Bulldogs back to work in spring

Mississippi State held its initial practice of the spring on Tuesday with several new faces and others in new roles. Head coach Dan Mullen spoke to the media about the Bulldogs first day as well as addressed some of the off the field issues his team has endured of late.

Quotes from Dan Mullen’s Post Practice Media Session

Opening Statement …

“It’s great to be out here. We work hard to come out here and play football, and I think we had a great offseason. A lot of guys have been training and working hard and now they get to come out and apply it to the game of football. I think, for everybody, it was a lot of fun to be out here.”

“We have a great attitude on this team, great effort and the tempo of practice was good. No one had any pads on so it was hard to see what was really going on. We have a lot of new faces that are going to have to learn to do and think things really fast. It is going to be a good spring for them as we get time in between practices to see it, digest it and learn from it and hopefully be a little better the next time they step on the field.”

“I’m a little bit more on offense because that is just my deal. I love going over there with the defensive guys to make sure we’re running to the ball. To me, our style of defense is not going to change. Schematically, we might run an adjustment to coverage or a different blitz or two, but we are going to have a lot of guys running to the football with relentless effort. For us, that is important when dealing with the defensive side of the ball.”

Adjustment for redshirt players and new faces…

“I want to go and look at all of them because there are a lot. I bet 40 percent of our team has never played in a game. That’s redshirt freshmen, true freshmen and a lot of guys just graduated early and got in here as mid-year enrollees. A lot of guys that have never played in the game, and this is, to me, their first time to absorb it. It’s slower for the mid-year enrollees because they have to learn it, but the redshirt freshman have been here. They are showing how much they absorbed last year.”

On Damien Robinson, Cedric Jiles, and others previously injured…

“I don’t know that they are full speed, but they are cleared to practice. They are still building back up to that. It’s good to see them out there. We got a bunch of guys banged up; some carry overs from last season. A couple of spring conditioning with De’Runnya [Wilson], Damian [Williams] and J.T. [Gray] and others just carry overs from last season. We hope to get Dez [Harris] doing something soon but the other two are still working. Elijah [Staley] is going to be out all spring, and the good thing is the leg is not his plant leg. He can actually sit and throw for some quality work despite being out for the spring.”

On issues over spring break…

“We always tell them to behave, and we want to develop them, however it was spring break. They were away from campus. Some of the guys went to their hometowns, and others just all over the country. There were a lot of different things going on, and with the two incidents we had, we could not control that. I mean you can lock them in their house, but they are kids, they want to go out and want to have fun. Dak was with friends and De’Runnya was at home. You try to get guys to make good decisions, but they are college kids.”

On Jamaal Clayborn playing center…

“The issue that we have there is our top three centers from last year graduated. We’re going to be experimenting there a bunch. It’s not just about the one. Looking at Jamaal, I think we experimented with that in bowl prep a little bit to give him some opportunities there and see if he was comfortable. He’s worked all offseason snapping. I think that’s a starting point, but I think we also have to create some depth at that position. We’re probably going to be experimenting with a couple of different guys in there in different points throughout the spring.”

On moving Jamoral Graham to cornerback…

“One, our corner depth is a little bit low. He and I met. We had all our receivers coming back, and with a couple of mid-year enrollees, we met and I said, ‘It’s a great opportunity for you. It may be permanent. I don’t know, but let’s see. You’re going to be right in the mix in two-deep on day one when you walk out to practice at the corner position where you’re battling for reps at the receiver position right now.’ He’s a competitor. He said, ‘Coach, I want to go wherever, and whatever I need to do to get on the field I can go do it.’ I think he has the skill set, his quickness, athleticism and physicality will allow him to do either.”

On Aeris Williams…

“Aeris always has a great attitude. He’s going to go as hard as he can with whatever he is doing. When you look at a guy Aeris, we want to get the pads on him. He’s a physical-type player so you’re not going to see much out of his game until the pads come on.”

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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