By Brad Locke
STARKVILLE – Jameon Lewis and Joe Morrow have been learning everything that’s involved with being a starting wide receiver in the SEC. Thursday served as a reminder of how much work still remains.
Mississippi State held its first scrimmage of the preseason, a closed affair inside Davis Wade Stadium. Lewis, Morrow and the rest of the receivers had a tough day as far as dropped passes and penalties, which head coach Dan Mullen attributed to “poor concentration.”
Morrow wasn’t going to argue with that assessment.
“Just mental focus. It was just execution,” the sophomore said. “The play was there, the opportunity was there, we’ve just got to make plays when our time is called.”
After waiting their turn, the time is now for Lewis and Morrow. All three starting receivers from last year are gone, and so MSU is turning to some promising but unproven players.
Lewis, a junior, has been immersed in his playbook and honing the rough edges of his game. The key, he said, is to maintain focus even when he’s hot and tired on an August afternoon.
“You’ve got to keep your technique when you’re tired,” Lewis said.
“Like camp now, everybody’s tired, everybody’s hurting, but you keep doing the small things right, and they’re going to translate on the field.”
Perhaps being tired is what led to the mistakes Thursday, but Mullen did credit the receivers for doing other things well, like blocking. Morrow even tried to take on middle linebacker Benardrick McKinney on one play, and that’s the type of effort first-year receivers coach Billy Gonzales likes to see.
Mullen, who coached with Gonzales for eight years at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, liked seeing the small things done correctly.
“I look at them fundamentally – I don’t know if they had their best day today – but the blocking, all the little things that you look for, it’s fun having (Gonzales) back and knowing that I know he’s going to get that taken care of,” Mullen said.
The scrimmage reminded Gonzales of how much work he still must do to get this receiving corps in shape for the Aug. 31 opener against Oklahoma State.
“You’re not going to hear me say I’m excited about my guys right now – I’m not, as far as where we’re at,” he said. “But I will be once we get going.”