STARKVILLE – It was back to work for Mississippi State’s starters Wednesday afternoon after a five practice rest to allow some of the younger Bulldogs to get reps.
MSU will continue to practice on campus through Friday for its Dec. 31 Liberty Bowl meeting with Rice.
“It was kind of back to the normal grind and routine getting ready to work,” said MSU defensive line coach David Turner. “We got in a lot of work with some of the younger guys who didn’t get a whole lot of reps this year. Today was really the first day that we kind of zeroed in on Rice. I liked the guys attitudes. They came in and got a good days work done.”
Turner is in his first season back in Starkville after spending three seasons at Kentucky. His return has helped the Bulldogs surpass its 2012 totals in tackles for loss. State made 64 stops behind the line of scrimmage last fall but already has 70 through 12 games this year.
“We put a lot of emphasis on stopping the run and we try to get as many tackles as we can,” said defensive end Preston Smith. “We didn’t want to let them run up the gut on us. They had to get the ball past us and we worked hard so they couldn’t run the ball so easily. I think that probably improved our tackles for loss.”
Seven players notched 4.5 or more tackles for loss including freshman defensive lineman Chris Jones, who led the team with seven.
With the bowl game still looming, the Bulldogs are currently three sacks behind the 19 they produced in 2012.
Senior offensive guard Gabe Jackson was selected to his eighth All-American team on Wednesday.
The Football Writers Association of America picked the 6-foot-4, 340-pounder on its second team.
Jackson has started all 51 games of his college career which is the most among active FBS players. He graded out at 80-percent or higher in every game this season and did not allow a sack.
The Liberty native also won the C Spire Conerly and Hull awards and was a first-team All-SEC selection.
Juco OL signing
Mississippi State signed one junior college offensive tackle on Wednesday in Jocquell Johnson of Copiah-Lincoln.
The 6-foot-6, 319-pounder had been committed since May 22 and chose the Bulldogs over an offer from Ole Miss. Johnson was a consensus three-star prospect and a former standout at Callaway High School.