Practice Opens, Mullen Blocks Injury Questions

Mississippi State held its first fall practice this afternoon, but since it was closed to the public and media, we can only tell you what was told us by coach Dan Mullen. We spoke with him for several minutes tonight, although the interview session was nearly cut short when Mullen started to leave the room.

He was asked about injured players Tobias Smith (knee) and Nickoe Whitley (Achilles’ tendon), who are recovering and expected to play this fall. We wanted to know how much work they did today.

“Yeah, they’re working. They’re working. They’re working with the team. We don’t talk about injuries.”

When I asked whether those two would be 100 percent by season’s start, Mullen stood up and started to leave. I have video, so CLICK HERE. It should be noted that Mullen has had a policy of not talking about injuries, he just hasn’t been consistent with it. Needless to say, I didn’t get to ask about injured tight end Malcolm Johnson.

It should be noted that later in the interview, Mullen mentioned Smith as a starter, which he will be (at right guard) if healthy.

As for the practice itself, I asked how soon Mullen could assess the amount of retention from spring to now and the quality of work players did over the summer.

“I feel like there was (good retention),” he said. “I mean, work over the summer, sometimes tough to tell. Just getting out there, some guys we’ll see as we keep developing. I was pleased with what appeared to be some retention. We weren’t, like, crisp on every single play, offense or defense, but it wasn’t confused looks on people’s faces. We put a lot in on them today.”

MSU is off tomorrow then will hold split-squad practices Saturday at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. That’s the only day this August that practices will be open to the media and public.

“We’re trying to pick the days the fans could come to and open practice for that,” Mullen said. “Having it on a Saturday is why we’re doing that one. It’s not like you’re changing practice. You just take your installation schedule and maybe stuff that was installed practice 2 last year is installed in practice 10 with a bunch more emphasized and stuff that was installed practice 10 is in practice 2.”

There was much more talked about, but I’ll save some of it for tomorrow’s paper, and for future blog posts.

Click video to hear audio