Hot, muggy dog days of summer in Mississippi are the norm. Those same dog days extend into fall for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The team ends its two-a-days and training camp in anticipation of beginning the season.
The normal practices are mixed with a new issue this season. H1N1 virus commonly known as “Swine Flu” has risen its ugly head during the training camp.
Some of the players have been diagnosed with the bug and have been isolated. The rest of the team is taking precautions, but all are expected to recover for the first game of the upcoming season.
The normal bumps and bruises have occurred yet the players all seem to be in good shape. The final preseason scrimmage will happen today, Saturday August 22 around 1 p.m.
Head coach Dan Mullen talked more about working on game mechanics in an online interview Thursday before practice.
Current practices seem to be focused on individual player’s mechanics. Mullin is working with his QB Coach/Offensive Coordinator Les Koenning to get QB Tyson Lee and his receivers on the same page and get them used to the new spread offense Mullins brought to the program.
Running backs have been a small problem going into the season with numerous injuries leaving the roster open for many new unfamiliar faces. RB Anthony Dixon seems to be healthy and looks to be able to bring a blistering running attack to the field.
Don’t count out the Dawg defense with all of this offensive talk. Veteran defensive coordinator Carl Torbush is working hard to bring the Dawg defense back to prominence. He is saddled with only five returning starters, but has an able group of underclassmen waiting in the wings for their time in the spotlight.
Notable among the returnees is defensive end Sean Ferguson, who played last season as a true freshman has had a phenomenal training camp. He is expected to anchor a small but extremely fast line.
The most talented defensive group is at linebacker. Senior Jamar Chaney, considered the heart of the team, is in the middle. Last season’s leading tackler K.J. Wright returns and transfer Chris White will hold down the edges.
The secondary is the biggest question with mostly young and inexperienced players. The one bright spot is returning cornerback Marcus Washington, who has played in 36 career games.
Special teams have taken on a new emphasis at MSU after a dismal 2008 season where they ranked 11th in the league in both punt and kickoff returns and 12th in the coverage area.
State will have junior placekicker Sean Brauchle and junior punter Heath Hutchins. The return game will have junior transfer Leon Berry to field the kicks.
Coach Mullins looks to field a better team than last year and begin the long road back to prominence in the SEC. He has a nucleus of top rate coaches and a plethora of young new talent.
The fans expect a hard fight back and we are behind him all the way. The season starts September 5 on the MSU campus against SWAC and in-state powerhouse Jackson State.