By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – There have been some rough patches for Mississippi State’s young players during preseason camp, but they’re starting to come around.
Dan Mullen put the spotlight on his youngsters during Friday night’s scrimmage, which was held in Davis Wade Stadium
MSU ran about 150 plays during the two-hour affair, and Mullen said the backups got about 70 snaps, while several first-teamers sat out or saw very limited field time.
Mullen is trying to get his non-starters as ready as possible for the Sept. 1 season opener at Memphis.
“There are some guys that played 70 plays last night that we’re counting on playing 10-15 against Memphis,” he said Saturday. “They need to learn that, so when they’re number’s called they’re ready to go play.”
As he breaks down the film, Mullen is comparing the inexperienced players to veterans.
“There’s some great clips that you see on film that you don’t always see on film that you see a veteran player and a young player next to each other. And you see the speed at which the veteran player’s playing, and you see the speed at which the younger player’s playing.
“So it’s pretty evident, you can look and say, we need you playing at that speed.”
Earlier in camp Mullen noted that several players were “feeling sorry for themselves” during hot, long workouts and weren’t displaying the kind of mental toughness he values so highly.
“I think we’re past it,” Mullen said. “I can still pull up some clips, and we’re going to address clips in a scrimmage, but when you go 150 plays in two hours, there’s some exhaustion out there with guys. We’ve got to show that, and you can see guys on certain plays.
“As I say, they feel sorry for themselves, but it’s a lot different than what it (was).”
Players were given Saturday and today off, and Mullen expects them to “be ready to go 100 mph on Monday.” The Bulldogs will start some scout team work Monday as they inch toward Memphis preparations.
Maye figuring it out
It might be merely a matter of time before Brandon Maye moves up the depth chart.
Right now the Clemson transfer is a third-string middle linebacker, but he’s made strides throughout camp. The senior has plenty of experience and can handle the speed of the game, so it’s simply a matter of him learning things.
“I don’t have any negative things with him,” Mullen said. “He’s just figuring it out all out – what our expectations are of our players on the field and learning the scheme on top of it.”
Senior Brandon Wilson is currently the first-team middle linebacker.
ahead of schedule
Redshirt freshman running back Nick Griffin began preseason camp jogging the sidelines, trying to come back from offseason ACL surgery. He’s now doing through individual drills with pads on and is making a push to get on the field this season in a backup role.
“I try to hold (him) back,” Mullen said. “I’m still thinking Oct. 1 is really the clear date for him to start practice and getting ready to go. We think he’s way ahead of schedule.”