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March 25, 2011

Mullen likes effort

Following Friday's spring practice, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen threw out the term "sloppy" for the second consecutive day. But there was also some positive feelings share by Mullen concerning the Bulldogs' work.

"We put in a lot of red-zone and goal-line stuff and really controlled situations there," said Mullen. "We wanted to make sure we are ready to get hit for tomorrow's (scrimmage) and we got after it today. I mean, (it was) really sloppy and poor execution but I liked the sound of the contact and the effort of guys running around on the field."

Early on in spring drills, what has also been obvious is the competition at numerous spots, particularly at receiver and linebacker. Mullen remarked that competition has created more intensity on the practice fields with his players knowing the value of performing this time of the year.

"There's a lot of guys and we work hard and they want to get on the field on Saturdays and have fun playing," said Mullen. "They know if you come out and show what you can do here (on the practice fields), then you get an opportunity on Saturdays to go and play in the fall."

A lot of that intensity Friday was shown on defense, a defense that Mullen said "had a good day".

"It looks like we are mismatching some guys at different positions and different combinations on the field," said Mullen. "We're evaluating players and that's one of the goals for this spring...to really evaluate and see what guys can do. We have a lot of young guys taking reps, not just with the 1's but our 2's and there's a lot of young guys. So we have to do a good job of evaluating what they do well and what they don't do well."

Concerning some of those new faces at certain spots, Mullen commented on a handful of guys that have shown promise thus far in spring ball.

"I think James Carmon is getting better every day at (left) tackle," said Mullen. "Kaleb Eulls is now at that three-technique (defensive) tackle and doing a good job in there. You know, Matthew Wells is doing a good job at the nickel and we run a lot of three-wide (receivers). I saw Malcolm (Johnson) and it looked like he did a couple of things today at positions we might not use him a lot in games. But you know what, he is learning to be a hybrid-type player for us."

On Saturday, the Bulldogs were hold their first scrimmage setting this spring. The scrimmage is scheduled for noon but depending on the weather, it could start earlier that morning.

"I want see us play," said Mullen. "It's really our first chance to play and set it up in a game situation. It is a chance to put it all together and go play."

Also on Friday, the Bulldogs' 2011 season opener was moved a couple of days to Thursday night. Mullen said he prefers to open at Memphis on Thursday night to give the Bulldogs a head start in preseason practice.

"Anytime you can start the season on a Thursday night I think is a huge plus," said Mullen. "We start school so early and I think we start before anyone else in the league. So we've already been in school three weeks before then anyway so moving that game up is better for us."

And the MSU athletic director agreed.

"Dan has said ever since he's been here anytime you have an opportunity to play our first game on a Thursday that he wanted us to seriously consider it," said MSU athletic director Scott Strickland. "It allows you to start preseason practice early and you then get that break before your next game. And in this case, it gives us a couple of extra days before we open up our conference play. So that was consideration.

"And because this is a road game it ensures we will play on tv and when your in a non-SEC game, you don't always have that guarantee. You weight that with people not being able to go since it's not on the weekend and that is obviously a negative."


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