By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Jay Hughes doesn’t want to make too much of what happened Saturday. He knows how much work still remains.
Two days after holding its first scrimmage of the spring, Mississippi State was back on the field Monday for the eighth of 15 scheduled practices.
While the defense was declared the winner on Saturday, Hughes, a junior safety, is far from satisfied with what transpired.
“There’s always room for improvement,” he said. “We’ve got to tackle better. That’s my main focus, anyway, and I think as a unit that’s what we need to get better at is tackling.”
Monday marked the beginning of the next phase of learning.
The installation process concluded last week, and now things get a little more complicated as coaches want to start seeing players checking out of bad plays and into good ones.
That won’t be a big problem for older guys like Hughes, so coaches are keeping a close eye on the younger ones.
“You can’t really see what a kid’s totally about until he knows what to do,” offensive coordinator Les Koenning said. “We preach this to our kids, you’ve got to know what to do before we can make any true evaluation on you, and if you never know what to do, you never get an opportunity to play.”
After a slow start in the scrimmage, the offense picked things up, with the first unit scoring on five of its last six possessions.
Quarterback Tyler Russell passed for 307 yards and six touchdowns, although Koenning said those numbers were a bit inflated because head coach Dan Mullen let play continue even if Russell – who’s not allowed to be tackled in practice – was “sacked.”
“Dan just kind of let it go to see if we could execute the second part of the play, which was good for us we got a chance to do that,” Koenning said.
MSU practices again today at 4 p.m.