Defense on top in scrimmage

STARKVILLE – It was the first scrimmage of the spring, but the niceties were not being observed.
Mississippi State’s quarterbacks were not fully protected by the red jerseys they were wearing during Saturday’s controlled scrimmage, taking a handful of hard hits, whether running or trying to throw.
“They were supposed to have red jerseys, but people started hitting them, so it kind of looked like it was working,” coach Dan Mullen said. “They didn’t seem to complain too much.”
On one play, starting QB Chris Relf was hit and stripped of the ball by cornerback Corey Broomfield, who scooped up the ball and trotted into the end zone.
That’s the sort of play Broomfield is known for. The rising junior has nine interceptions and four touchdowns in his career and leads a veteran group of cornerbacks.
“We’ve got an older group, everybody out there has played and started at least one or two games,” Broomfield said. “We’re done with the basic stuff, now we’re trying to pick up and go to the next level.”
The quarterbacks had some success against the corners at times Saturday, and neither Relf nor backup Tyler Russell threw interceptions. Mullen wasn’t happy with a couple of pass interferences committed by his DBs.
“Just in watching it, they were in position and just got a little bit lazy, didn’t finish the play off. We’ll get that stuff cleaned up,” Mullen said.
Broomfield was all smiles afterwards, because the defense “won” the scrimmage, meaning the offense had to do extra running. With the scrimmage out of the way, Broomfield said it’s time for his group to shift focus a little bit.
“We’ve pretty much got everything in, so now we’re going to try to get better at the little things – stepping with the right foot, staying in your gaps, just simple stuff,” he said. “All the big things should be out of the way now.”
To the tape
• There were good moments for the offense, including a 65-yard touchdown run by LaDarius Perkins and six touchdowns scored during red zone work.
State will return to the practice field Tuesday, so Mullen and his coaches have some time to study the tape.
“I look for effort,” he said. “I know our coaches are going to look at technique work and assignment work, but for me, I really want to see guys that run to the football and play hard on all three phases.”
Injuries update
• Backup tailback Nick Griffin was held out of contact work because of what Mullen termed a possible light knee sprain suffered during Friday’s scrimmage. Starting tight end Marcus Green was also held out as he continues to recover from October knee surgery.
Sophomore linebacker Chris Hughes, who’s been running with the first team this spring, was shaken up near the end of practice.
“He was all right,” said Mullen. “Just got his bell rung a little bit.”
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or brad.locke@journalinc.com.

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal