Young Bulldogs focus of practice work

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State’s freshmen are getting a taste of what’s to come, and they’re eating it up.
The Bulldogs, who face No. 21 Northwestern in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1, continued practices on Wednesday, and the primary focus was again on youth. This is a chance for guys like linebacker Richie Brown, who’s taking a redshirt this season, to do more than just scout team work.
The freshmen are getting the kinds of reps normally reserved for first- and second-string players.
“It’s fun to get actual reps, and it’s great work,” Brown said. “There’s a reason bowl teams keep going back to bowls, because the 2s and 3s are getting a lot of preseason and pre-spring work.”
A handful of freshmen have played this season, but they still need all the work they can get. Cornerback Cedric Jiles played in the first three games before a hand injury sidelined him.
His hand is on the mend, and Jiles is anxious to work his way back onto the field. These practices will help him do that.
“It’s all motivation, because you sit on that sideline, it opens your eyes and makes you want to go out there and just play,” Jiles said. “I feel like I have such a hunger, I feel ready to come back out there on the field next year and make plays.”
Griffin tears ACL
Backup tailback Nick Griffin has suffered his second torn ACL in less than two years.
The school confirmed on Wednesday that the sophomore tore the ACL in his right knee during Saturday’s practice. He will have surgery today, and there is no timetable for his return.
Griffin is third on the team with 223 rushing yards on 32 carries. He was one of three backup in the rotation behind starter LaDarius Perkins, a junior who figured to be pushed by Griffin for playing time next year.
Griffin tore the ACL in his left knee during spring practices last year and was limited to five games the following season.
Holmes makes move
Bowl practices can be a time to experiment, which is why sophomore Christian Holmes is making a move from linebacker to tight end. The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder has already made a couple of catches in practice, including one late in Wednesday’s work.
Holmes played tight end and receiver in high school, but he’s trying to knock off some rust. The toughest adjustments?
“I’d say the footwork with the blocking and the route running. It’s been a while since I’ve run a route, three years,” he said.
Does Holmes hope to stay on offense?
“I actually like it, but linebacker’s my love. We’ll see.”
brad.locke@journalinc.com