By Bob Carskadon
STARKVILLE – Seeking redemption after a bad outing in the first scrimmage of spring practice on Saturday, the Mississippi State defense returned to the practice field Tuesday night and got the better of their offensive counterparts.
The defensive players had to run sprints after practice on Saturday, while the offense unwound in the cold tubs. Payback on Tuesday came in the form of interceptions and forced fumbles.
“Today, we tried to bounce back a little bit,” senior cornerback Corey Broomfield said.
Head coach Dan Mullen said the turnovers were a result of the defense installing blitz packages and testing them out on an unsuspecting offense, with generally positive results.
Fortunately for quarterbacks Tyler Russell and Dak Prescott, they were still not allowed to be tackled, turning several would-be sacks into completions – or the occasional turnover.
Defensive coordinator Chris Wilson’s unit mixed up the rotation of players and frequently sent extra linebackers and defensive backs into the backfield, much to the delight of Broomfield.
“Coach Wilson always says, ‘Great players have great eyes, so put your eyes in the right place and the ball will come to you,’” Broomfield said.
Of course, it wasn’t all good for the defense. As Mullen pointed out, the offense was sometimes able to take advantage of the blitzing defense.
“What you’re gonna see out of that are a lot of big plays, and we gave up a lot of big plays and they made a lot of big plays today,” Mullen said. “When you’re coming at it with heavy, heavy blitzes, you’re gonna see the best and really you’re gonna see a big play no matter what happens, one way or the other.”
Mullen said he was pleased with the overall performance of both the offense and defense, also saying he felt many of the younger players were beginning to get comfortable with the practice routine.
He did, however, admit that the installation of plays was making some players “brains freeze up a little bit.”
Sophomore linebacker Christian Holmes said he loves the new blitzes and is excited for more turnovers, but admitted that learning the defense can be a daunting task.
“We’re mixing stuff up and it’s hard,” Holmes said. “It’s complicated.”