Bulldogs ‘Cleaner'; Bell the Starter?

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen thought today’s practice, the second involving scout team work, was cleaner than Wednesday’s.

“A little bit better, a little bit cleaner today,” he said. “You get into that, start the scout team work, a little better understanding of the tempo of practice is better.”

He later added, “When you start changing scout teams for the first time and you’re really getting to game practice and game planning, it can be a little sloppy the first day. So I just think we got that corrected on the film, what’s expected, how the period’s supposed to look, the effort and the energy level on the field.”

The Bulldogs are in full prep mode for the Sept. 4 season opener against Memphis (6 p.m., ESPNU), and next week’s schedule will be slightly different from their normal game week routine.

“Usually we don’t practice on a Monday, and this coming next week we’ll give them Sunday off, and we’ll practice on Monday and go full pads. And then we’ll start to scale back later in the week.”

• Has Nick Bell won the starting job at right defensive end? According to Bell, yes.

I spoke with defensive coordinator Manny Diaz about that battle between Bell, a sophomore, and junior Sean Ferguson. Diaz said that position is still undecided, “and I don’t know if anybody’s jumped ahead.”

I then spoke with Ferguson, who said, “we’re still competing for the spot.”

But when I asked Bell, he said, “I’ve been getting the majority of the first-team reps. (Coach) told me today that I was the starter. But as far as during camp, we’ve been going back and forth, been getting into a good competition.”

Whoever starts, both are going to get plenty of field time.

• Line coach – who began an interview session with reporters by sharply blowing his whistle – gave us some clarity on what we reported yesterday about redshirt freshman Gabe Jackson possibly being the starter at left guard. Center J.C. Brignone indicated Wednesday that Jackson was going to start there instead of junior incumbent Quentin Saulsberry.

“He’s been the starting left guard. He’s rotated, basically it’s Tobias (Smith), him and Quentin are going in and out at that guard,” Hevesy said. “All three of them can start, all three of them can play. Who will start, I don’t know. Whoever I might pick out of a hat, I’ll put one of them in.”

Hevesy said he’ll evaluate those guys further next week, and it’ll be interesting to see what the depth chart says Monday (for what that’s worth). Hevesey added that Saulsberry is also working as Brignone’s backup.