Today was my first chance to get a look at the MSU football team since spring drills began, and it was also the Bulldogs' first day in full gear. Coach Dan Mullen called it a sloppy effort, but the key word for him was "effort."
"What happens is the excitement of guys wanting to go hit each other, and they play with that effort and kind of go play the game a little bit. But because of that, it got a little bit sloppy with all of our other execution parts," he said.
There was a good bit of emphasis on the running game today. MSU, of course, is trying to replace Anthony Dixon, the school's all-time leading rusher.
"The base offense was going in today, because it was the first day in pads," Mullen said. "With some of the young backs coming in here right now, it's going to take a little bit of feel for them. But I was happy with what they did."
Some of the candidates: juco transfer Vick Ballard, redshirt freshman Montrell Conner and junior Robert Elliott.
"Fifteen days of spring ball, we've got to sort it out in 15 days," running backs coach Greg Knox said. "Anthony Dixon is hard to replace."
MSU did some scrimmaging near the end, and practice concluded with goal-line situations. The white team (defense) won, allowing just two touchdowns. Safety Charles Mitchell had an interception of Chris Relf, and LB Cameron Lawrence laid a head-snapping lick on Elliott.
Big DL James Carmon, a juco transfer, blew up the final play – a run from the 1-yard line – although he might have jumped the snap count. He was shaken up on the play but didn't appear too hurt.
After addressing the team, Mullen gave the Maroon squad a chance to reduce their post-practice running, and Ballard scored from the 1.
"Our defensive line seemed to come off the ball a bunch today," Mullen said. "We've got a lot more size on the D-line this year than we obviously had this time last year. Guys are popping, guys are hitting, we've just got to be cleaner executing."
Now, for random thoughts and observations from today's session.
• Carmon, an early enrollee, is a big dude. We knew this, but the first time I got a look at him – from about 75 yards away, mind you – I uttered, "Good gosh almighty." He's put together, too. Remember that scary picture of Terrence Cody with his shirt off? Sources tell me that Carmon, who's listed at 345 pounds but is probably closer to 355, does not have man boobies.
• DL Jonathan McKenzie, a redshirt freshman from Starkville Academy, has beefed up a bit. He came to Starkville at 235; he's now listed at 265. He was 6-foot-4 on last year's roster; now it says he's 6-6.
• Sophomore WR Charles Bailey is having a good spring so far, I'm told. Looked good today, and he'll have ample opportunity to find a role on this team.
• OL Addison Lawrence appeared to suffer a cramp during post-practice running. He'll get checked out tomorrow.
• MSU practices again Tuesday. In the meantime, Mullen said there will be a lot of film breakdown and review. And recruiting, as several prospects were in attendance today.