Mississippi State held its second full scrimmage of the spring on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium, a week before the annual Maroon-White spring game. Mullen, the head coach, gave the defense the edge for the second consecutive week.
Diaz, the Bulldogs' first-year defensive coordinator, couldn't help but see too many negatives Saturday.
"Just when they show signs, we'll do something not smart," Diaz said. "Gave them a big play two weeks in a row. We can't be good on defense if we give up long plays for touchdowns."
How close was the final tally? If not for a pair of muffed punts, Mullen said the offense would have won the scrimmage.
Diaz's D was victimized on a 68-yard touchdown pass from Chris Relf to Leon Berry, who made a nice grab just above the grass and sprinted down the middle of the field. He had three catches for 121 yards.
MSU's run game showed good life, too, as Okolona's Robert Elliott gained 52 yards on 13 carries, and walk-on fullback Adrian Marcus rushed for 46 yards on 10 totes.
The run game was particularly effective in red zone drills. That, and the offense's success in third-down drills, bothered Diaz.
"I don't believe there's anybody walking around with a sense of accomplishment yet," he said. "We're still a ways to go from where we want to be."
On the plus side for Diaz, his unit came up with some turnovers. Middle linebacker Chris White stripped quarterback Tyler Russell and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown.
QBs up the tempo
- Russell and Relf were asked to push the pace a bit Saturday. Both had good moments and bad moments.
Russell completed 12 of 26 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns, while Relf was 12 of 23 for 210 yards, one TD and an interception.
Mullen thought his quarterbacks played well and said an inexperienced and shallow wide receiver unit shouldered most of the blame for what went wrong in the passing game.
"[T]oday they wanted us to go fast, keep up the tempo real fast, get the defense on their toes, and try to make some plays," said Russell, a redshirt freshman. "At times I did, at times I didn't."
- Saturday was, Mullen hopes, a turning point for MSU this spring. He called it the "biggest" scrimmage, saying the Maroon-White game is more of a "celebration."
So he expects the next few practices to be especially crisp.
"Tuesday, Thursday are going to be critical, critical practices for us," Mullen said. "They should be our two best practices of the whole spring."
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or email@example.com.