MSU: Backup quarterbacks get tested in spring scrimmage

By Gregg Ellis
Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Knowing pretty much all he needs to about his starters, Sylvester Croom used Tuesday's scrimmage at Scott Field primarily as an opportunity to get a more detailed look at his backups.

Particularly on offense.

Yes, starters saw action. Some more than others. The intent, though, was to put his reserves in pressure situations and see how they respond.

That was especially the case for the quarterbacks and running backs.

“It was a not a real good day, but they will be all right in time,” the fifth-year Mississippi State coach said. “We've still got a lot of work to do.”

Under center, returning starter Wesley Carroll was 5-of-8 passing for 46 yards in his limited time.

And once he was done for the afternoon, the offense was under the direction of redshirt freshman Chris Relf and junior college transfer Tyson Lee.

Relf struggled somewhat with his accuracy and completed just 6 of his 22 passes for 100 yards. However, he did have a 19-yard scoring strike to Aubrey Bell.

But if there was one area of his game on Tuesday that caught the eye of Croom, it was his running ability.

While Robert Elliott, a redshirt freshman from Okolona, paced the Bulldogs with 87 yards on 23 carries, Relf grounded out 31 on five touches scrambling out of the pocket.

“He had some nice plays,” Croom said. “It was Relf's best day overall. When he pulls the ball down and runs, he looks like another Anthony Dixon. But he still has a lot to learn running this offense.”

The 6-foot-3, 211-pound Relf agreed.

He said he knows the plays and that the key now is to get better with repetition.

“I just got to do what I have to do to get yards, whether it's running or passing,” Relf said. “Now, it's all about executing.”

Lee, who enrolled at MSU in January following an impressive two seasons at Itawamba Community College, had the best day of all the quarterbacks, at least from a numbers standpoint.

Of his 24 passes, the 5-11 walk-on completed 19 for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He also had an interception that was returned 69 yards by defensive tackle Jessie Bowman.

“The knock has always been his height,” Croom said. “But like I ignored (Jerious) Norwood's legs, I ignore his height.”

The Bulldogs return to the practice fields on Thursday for a light workout, then conclude the alloted 15 drills on Saturday with the annual spring game.