By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State held its second scrimmage of the spring at Davis Wade Stadium on Friday, and the defense was an even more decisive winner than it was last week.
Geoff Collins, the first-year defensive coordinator, saw his unit force six turnovers and, more important to him, start the second half as strongly as it did the first.
“Last week they came out on fire, and then the second half kind of slipped a little bit. And the point of emphasis today was to play (hard) the entire time,” Collins said. “They tried at the beginning of the second half to slack off a little bit, but then they picked it up, and I thought they had a good day overall.”
Quarterback Tyler Russell was intercepted four times, twice by redshirt freshman linebacker Beniquez Brown, who returned the second one 28 yards for a touchdown. Russell finished 21 of 39 for 258 yards and four touchdowns, and as was the case last week, he and the offense started slowly.
MSU doesn’t allow its quarterbacks to be hit during practices, but Russell was under a lot of pressure from the defensive ends and linebackers.
Head coach Dan Mullen wasn’t as effusive in his praise of the defense as was Collins. Mullen cited “sloppy” offense as a reason for most of the turnovers, and he didn’t like seeing the secondary getting beat on a few long passes.
“Defense, I didn’t see any special plays,” he said, but then noted that a Jamerson Love interception in the end zone was a “nice play.”
Tight end Malcolm Johnson had eight catches for 131 yards, and tailback Derrick Milton had 73 yards on 19 carries. MSU’s top two tailbacks, LaDarius Perkins and Josh Robinson, were out injured.
MSU will practice again Tuesday, and its annual Maroon-White spring game is a week from today.