March 5, 2011

Bulldogs chased indoors

Mississippi State began Saturday's practice attempting to brave mother nature outside on the practice fields.

But when thunder and lightning began after warmups the Bulldogs retreated inside the Palmeiro Center for the remainder of the morning.

"We were hoping to stay outdoors but a little lightning rolled through town and we had to come (inside the Palmeiro Center)," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "But we got done what we needed to get done."

MSU practiced for around two hours in front of a host of high school juniors who made the trek to Starkville for junior day.

The Bulldogs continued to mix and match different personnel on both sides of the ball during its skeleton and scrimmage drills in only helmets and shorts.

"We put guys in different situations because I want to see some leadership," Mullen said. "If a guy that goes with the ones goes with the twos, I want to see what kind of leadership they have. Also an older guy can go with the twos or threes and pick that group up a little bit because he raises the level of play of everybody else."

One player that impressed during those drills was redshirt freshman tight end Brandon Hill.

"He's getting there," Mullen said. "He's still got to learn what to do. When he gets that down he has what we look for in a tight end which is an athlete that causes some mismatch problems."

Hill hauled in several passes showcasing his unique skills in the passing game. The former West Lowndes (Miss.) standout was thought to be a potential wide receiver target but began growing into a tight end by the time fall camp arrived which prompted the move.

"We saw what he had in his size potential," Mullen said. "He's a little bit bigger than what Marcus Green at this point in his career. We had a vision of what his future would be. He just has to learn to play the position and that's just going to take some time."

The Bulldogs are continuing to transition rising senior James Carmon from defensive tackle into Derek Sherrod's replacement at left tackle. After just his second spring practice at the position, Mullen feels confident that the massive 6-foot-7, 345-pounder is capable in the move.

"He's football smart and he'll pick it up," Mullen said. "It's the transition from the film to the field because it is a little bit new for him. It's a new position with the techniques and getting used to the speed of how everything goes."

Another hole State has that Mullen is personally overseeing is at punter where Baker Swedenburg is replacing the departed Heath Hutchins.

"Baker's doing a decent job," Mullen said. "He really started to improve last year and hopefully he'll continue to grow and be ready to take that job over. I just want to see consistency. He's competing with William Berg for that spot. At times you will see both of them pound out 65-yard punts and you're like 'wow' and then you'll see them shank one."

The Bulldogs will break for the rest of the weekend before hitting the practice fields again Tuesday afternoon.

"We'll give our guys a break tomorrow and let the coaches go see their families," Mullen said. "We'll watch the tape on Monday and then be back out on Tuesday. It's a chance for our coaches to get caught up. We get to put a couple of pads on, on Tuesday."



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