STARKVILLE – After Mississippi State’s first full scrimmage of preseason camp on Thursday, the quarterback race remains a heated battle.
Coach Dan Mullen said that senior Tyson Lee and redshirt sophomore Chris Relf are “dead even” 10 days into August drills. He added that if freshman Tyler Russell had been here in the spring, he’d be right there with them.
“I think just the fact he’s mentally behind everybody else hurts him a little bit. That’ll be a wide-open race right to the end,” Mullen said.
Lee started the final eight games last year, but Relf has shown marked improvement since the spring.
The offense as a whole didn’t meet Mullen’s pre-scrimmage expectations. No score was kept – the Bulldogs mostly ran situational drills – but he gave the edge to the defense.
“I was hoping the offense would perform a little bit better than they did today and execute at a little higher level,” Mullen said. “They were a little herky-jerky.”
However, he feels he’s reached a point in the installation process where the coaches “can kind of focus on the plan a little bit more and tidy up the direction our offense has been going.”
Today, MSU will check out of the hotel it’s been staying in all week, and freshmen will go through academic orientation – classes start Monday. The Bulldogs will practice this afternoon, and as has been the case all week, it will be closed to the public and media.
MSU will hold two practices Saturday and then take off Sunday and Monday.
– Mullen said senior tailback Anthony Dixon is still under discipline for his DUI arrest last month. He wouldn’t specify what the punishment has so far entailed, beyond not running with the first team at practice.
“He’s still in the process, he’s serving different punishment things right now,” Mullen said. “At some point, when we figure it all out in the end, we’ll release what all his punishments were.”
Dixon, who was also charged with careless driving and driving without proof of liability insurance on July 18, will be arraigned in Starkville Municipal Court on Monday.
– At the end of the scrimmage, Mullen announced he’d awarded scholarships to two walk-on players: junior defensive back Emmanuel Gatling and junior offensive lineman John McMillan.
That brings MSU’s scholarship total for 2009 to 78 players, seven below the NCAA-imposed limit of 85.
State is still awaiting academic clearance from the NCAA for freshman receiver Ricco Sanders.
Contact Brad Locke at brad.locke@ djournal.com or 678-1571.
Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal