Saturday's scrimmage gave Mississippi State's coaches plenty of material to cover for the final week of spring practice. That started today, with coach Dan Mullen preaching about playing up to a certain standard.
"We've got to be clean and see some high-level performances on both sides of the ball, and we're doing that," Mullen said. "We'll get this team ready to go to the standard that we believe Mississippi State football should be."
The offense owned Saturday's scrimmage, but the defense bounced back nicely today. Linebacker Cam Lawrence (quad strain) and defensive tackle Devin Jones (broken hand) were back in action, and at one point Mullen was all over the offensive line, saying (very loudly) that the defensive line was "kicking (butt)" during third-down drills.
"We're just out there competing," defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said. "But what I do love about it is that if we're good on both sides of the ball up front, we're pretty good. And that's who we were a year ago. And that's the toughness that coach is trying to develop across the board, because if we can move people around, we can be pretty good. So they got after us Saturday, and we wanted to come out and improve today."
There were some nice offensive plays, like a one-handed grab by Ricco Sanders and – after the chewing out – a Tyler Russell-to-Chad Bumphis strike over the middle that went the distance.
Pass defense was a point of emphasis for Mullen today.
"We ran them a bunch today," he said, "and maybe that'll set you back because it didn't look great, because we're maybe not running great plays into great looks. But we needed to get the reps done so the guys can learn."
• I mentioned Lawrence and Jones, both of whom missed some practice time last week with their respective injuries. Jones was wearing a big cast on his left hand and used it well.
"Violent. He used it like a weapon," Wilson said. "I told him he's got better security than Fort Knox on that hand. He was good today. He's a tough guy, and he loves to play."
As for Lawrence, he got after it a little more than Mullen expected him to.
• The Maroon-White spring game is Saturday (5 p.m., CSS), and the teams will be "drafted" on Thursday. Mullen has certain rules in place to prevent, say, Chris Relf and Russell winding up on the same team.