Today was the final full-pad practice of the spring for MSU, which will do lighter work on Friday so as to be rested up for Saturday's Maroon-White game (5 p.m., Davis Wade Stadium). And guess what? The offense "won" the scrimmage, judging by the fact that the defense was doing the extra running at the end of practice.
"Our guys came out ready to practice and ready to go, but that also concerns me," coach Dan Mullen said. "When we step out here in August, we've got to be mentally advanced from where we are today. We can't take one step backwards in knowledge. We can't repeat something in August that we learned this spring."
He was pleased with the practice overall, but he's eager to see how all this work translates onto the field come Saturday.
"I want to see some guys make some plays in the stadium that hadn't made a lot of plays in the stadium," he said. "Chris Relf's played in pressure-packed situations in front of large crowds – Tyler Russell hasn't. I want to see how our guys respond when we have a huge crowd and exciting atmosphere."
The quarterbacks, Relf and Russell, looked pretty sharp for the most part, especially in goal-to-go situations. On the other hand, I saw a couple of nice pass break-ups by reserve CB Marvin Bure.
Other notes, quotes and observations from today:
• RB Montrell Conner, who's been limited most of the spring by a knee injury, was going full bore today in contact drills. On one play, he blew up DB Johnthan Banks.
"I want him to run the ball harder," said Mullen. "Sometimes he soft-foots it, dances around sometimes, and when you're a big 235-pound guy, you've got to drop your pad level and just go hit it. He's missed a little bit of spring, so we want to give him some extra carries."
• Speaking of Banks, the free safety again worked at cornerback some today, in dime packages and such.
• On the receivers situation, Mullen said, "We've got four who can step on the field right now, and we have to find four more before September 4 (season opener)." Those four: Leon Berry, Chad Bumphis, Brandon Heavens and Chris Smith.