By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Shane McCardell rubbed his hands together like he was ready to dive into the world’s most delicious cheesecake. The defensive end was talking about Mississippi State’s coming season, and the anticipation is killing him.
The Bulldogs open the 2012 campaign in nine days against Jackson State. It will mark the beginning of McCardell’s senior year.
“We’ve shifted gears over from developing players over to game specifics. I’m just excited about this first game – really, the whole season. Ready to get it jumped off,” he said following Wednesday’s practice.
There are some pretty high expectations for this team as head coach Dan Mullen enters his fourth season. At this point in August, the players are eager to start fulfilling those expectations, and as the old cliché goes, they want to hit someone besides their teammates.
“We’re just so amped up,” McCardell said.
McCardell will have to be patient a bit longer, as it’s not quite time to get into game-week mode. While Saturday’s scrimmage symbolically marked the end of preseason camp, the mindset hasn’t completely shifted away from that.
“Our mindset is we’re still in camp,” quarterback Tyler Russell said. “We’re focusing on some things that we need to get better at, and some things that we didn’t do well when we were at the (South) Farm.”
Mullen said Tuesday that he had looked at some Jackson State film and that this week was a “transition time” for the Bulldogs. MSU has begun doing some scout team work.
“We did the grind out there on the training camp,” center Dillon Day said. “We’re not yet game-planning, but we’re switching over and trying to just build upon that and kind of build back our legs and stuff and making everything more whole.”
Players said Wednesday’s practice was cleaner than Tuesday’s, which came after a couple of days off. Practices have been closed since Aug. 4, so it’s hard to know just how well MSU is progressing.
For example, tailback LaDarius Perkins said the offense has been “clicking” and making big plays, but McCardell said he hasn’t noticed any more big plays in practice than in years past.
Still, anticipation is running high. As for McCardell, he’s taking on a greater role this year. While he’s looking forward to what the team can do, he’s also looking forward to what he can accomplish.
“I’m ready to go, man. Anything can get thrown at me, and I’m going to be ready for it.”