Preseason Camp: MSU Dons Pads, Cranks Up Intensity

The energy level for Mississippi State’s first two days of practices was pretty good, but when the Bulldogs strapped on shoulder pads this morning for the first time, the intensity inevitably went up a few notches. As on Friday, MSU is holding split practices today, with the next session to start about 2:45 p.m.

Today’s morning group consisted mostly of starters and newcomers, including transfer linebacker Brandon Maye. He looked quite comfortable out there, giving directions and making some big hits. He forced a fumble of freshman tailback Derrick Milton on a screen pass – Maye lost his helmet in the process, and the defense recovered the loose ball.

“I still ain’t used to them, these big old heavy pads on,” Maye said. “It was awesome to be able to get back out here. I’m kind of ending my own lockout, because I’ve been locked down from football all spring and all fall.”

The coaches were even more animated than the players at times, with Dan Mullen forcing the first-team offense to run gassers for not hustling off the field. When a play call wasn’t properly sent in, Mullen had choice words for whoever was within earshot, then he called the play.

Most of the assistants were the same way.

“This is not volleyball or tennis, this is football. It’s a contact sport,” offensive coordinator Les Koenning said.

Putting on the pads affected quarterbacks Chris Relf and Dak Prescott, more so the latter. The freshman was way off target on several throws, throwing interceptions to Johnthan Banks and Corey Broomfield during skeleton drills, and to Kendrick Market on the opening play of an end-game drill.

Relf was sharp for the most part. During that end-game drill, in which the offense had 50 seconds and two timeouts with which to work, he led the ones on a three-play, 60-yard touchdown drive, hitting tight end Marcus Green for the score.

Relf favored Ricco Sanders a good bit today, connecting with him for an 80-yard TD over Johnthan Banks.

• Hey, I’ve got video of Maye right here. More on him in tomorrow’s Journal, as well as on Sanders.