By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – After three days off the field, Mississippi State strapped on pads for the first time this spring and resumed practices Wednesday.
The Bulldogs had originally been scheduled to practice Tuesday, but frigid temperatures and an ill Tyler Russell made that an unattractive option. Russell, the senior quarterback, wasn’t 100 percent well on Wednesday but was back at it nonetheless.
“He understands that’s part of being the starting quarterback. You’re never always going to feel great,” coach Dan Mullen said. “He did good.”
Russell, the only healthy scholarship quarterback, looked sharp on his passes as MSU continued the installation process. Putting on pads gave it a different feel, one the players liked. Although, some rust had to be knocked off.
“Yeah, I got it worked off today. I should be ready Friday, turn loose,” said defensive end Denico Autry.
Receiver Robert Johnson said fatigue was a factor toward the end of practice, but, “It felt good to be back in the groove of things.”
MSU’s coaches also have to find a groove, and that can be especially challenging with three new assistants on staff.
“A lot of them understand what we expect, being around,” Mullen said. “You’re a coach, this is where you want to be. You want to be out on the field coaching, teaching and doing football.”
This is an adjustment period as the players learn their new coaches. For instance, cornerbacks coach Deshea Townsend – who replaced Melvin Smith – is trying to get his group used to his coaching methods.
“The first couple of days it kind of took a minute, because we were still trying to do things the coach Smith way. But now everything’s going good,” cornerback Jamerson Love said.
New receivers coach Billy Gonzales has made it known just what he expects from his players, and he’s using this time to try and eliminate any sense of timidness.
“I want freakin’ mean football players on the football field that are going to portray that,” Gonzales said. “More than anything, I want toughness.”
MSU practices again Friday.