MSU NOTEBOOK: Bulldogs brave elements for workout

8TB6_MSU_primary_logoBy Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Not even below-freezing temperatures would deter Mississippi State from getting in its third practice in preparation for the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31.

The Bulldogs worked two hours in the frigid conditions Sunday night concluding practice at 8 p.m. at 28 degrees.

“They were just having fun,” said defensive coordinator Geoff Collins. “In this weather, for them to have such great attitudes is a testament to coach (Dan) Mullen and coach (Matt) Balis for the type of mindset they’ve developed with this team.”

One of the players that has shined so far in bowl prep is defensive tackle Nick James. The sophomore who redshirted this fall has trimmed down tremendously and built his fatigue up to be an every-down player.

James appeared in eight games as a true freshman in 2012, finishing with six tackles. The Long Beach native has made several tackles for loss and sacks during the first three practices.

“He’s flying around and has a ton of energy,” Collins said. “There’s some things we’re still working on with refining his technique but coach Balis has finally gotten him into a player. He used to be able to go two or three plays hard and then he was done. Tonight we had a 60-play rack and from beginning to the end he was flying around with juice.”

High expectations

Houston’s Chris Jones received plenty of praise and recognition for his play along MSU’s defensive front as a true freshman this fall.

Jones appeared in all 12 games and earned three starts finishing with 31 tackles and led the team with seven tackles for loss and three sacks.

For his efforts, Jones was named to the SEC All-Freshman team and even an honorable mention for the Associated Press All-SEC squad.

“I had a lot of expectations this year but my biggest one was to make first team All-SEC,” Jones said. “I didn’t do that and got an honorable mention. A lot of people congratulated me for that but I’m not really accepting it. I feel like I can work harder. Throughout the year I developed so next year should be a wonderful year.”

logan.lowery@journalinc.com