STARKVILLE – Two stages collide today at Davis Wade Stadium.
At 5 p.m., Mississippi State will conclude its spring drills with the annual Maroon-White game, a production that’s more show than substance. A dead giveaway: It will be contested on a 70-yard field.
That’s because part of the playing surface will be occupied by a literal stage. The country group Sugarland will be performing a show following the game, and the whole event is the centerpiece of Super Bulldog Weekend.
For the first time, MSU has charged fans admission to the spring game, with $25 good enough for both that and the concert. As of Thursday, a little more than 15,000 tickets had been sold.
MSU officials are expecting a crowd of about 25,000, and those fans will get one last look at the Bulldogs before August. It’s a chance for a lot of the younger players to show out a bit – guys like middle linebacker Benardrick McKinney, a redshirt freshman who’s vying for a starting job.
“Oh yeah, I’m looking forward to the spring game,” McKinney said. “I get to show everybody who didn’t believe in me that I can play, or show the coaches I can play.”
Many position battles remain unresolved, and today won’t play much of a role in determining those. But it’s still a chance for young guys to help their case.
Some to watch include defensive tackle Quay Evans, running back Nick Griffin and receiver Joe Morrow. Those kind of players have used this spring to grow and develop, and for a guy like Morrow – a redshirt freshman – today represents a taste of what he’ll get to experience this fall.
The 6-foot-4 Morrow is expected to be a game changer, and this spring has been a big part of the process.
“You come out here, one day you have a bad day, and one day you have a good day,” he said. “In my case, I had a couple of bad days, but you know, I think I’ve shown the coaches what I can do. Hopefully they’ll forget about them bad days.”
The Maroon team will be quarterbacked by Tyler Russell, while Dak Prescott will lead the White. The Bulldogs aren’t expected to use too much of the playbook. Their last “big-time scrimmage,” as Russell put it, was Thursday.
Like the Sugarland concert, this one’s for the fans.
“The older guys, we’re going to play a little bit,” senior linebacker Cam Lawrence said, “but we’re really expecting to see some young guys step up and put on a show out there mostly.”