Mississippi State is winding down spring practices this weekend with the annual Maroon-White spring game on Saturday. Here are three big position battles that will be contested well into August.
This is without a doubt the premier position battle at MSU, and it should carry well over into August two-a-days, and perhaps into the regular season, which begins Sept. 4 against Memphis.
The candidates are fourth-year junior Chris Relf and redshirt freshman Tyler Russell .
Relf has gotten most of the first-team snaps this spring, but Russell has a stronger arm and is a more pure passer, two qualities MSU quarterbacks have lacked in recent years. Chances are, the pair will split time on the field this fall, unless Russell is simply deemed not ready for the SEC.
Relf rushed for 500 yards last year, and his prowess in the option game makes him harder to keep off the field than Russell, who's got plenty of time to develop assuming that sort of patience exists among the coaches.
This position battle is why Relf's contributions on the ground are so crucial. Anthony Dixon , MSU's all-time leading rusher, is gone, and several candidates are jockeying for playing time.
Robert Elliott , a junior, has the most game experience, but he hasn't been especially productive. He certainly won't be a between-the-tackles type, which gives guys like junior college transfer Vick Ballard and redshirt freshman Montrell Conner good shots at heavy minutes.
Coaches believe Ballard needs some work, though, and Conner has been slowed by a knee injury. The wild card is redshirt freshman LaDarius Perkins , a speedster who could see the field with his ability to stretch defenses.
Four corners who return from last year have started at least one game apiece, and all can make a case to start. Junior Damein Anderson has the most game experience, but he was knocked out of the starting lineup last season by Maurice Langston , now a senior.
Sophomore Corey Broomfield made six interceptions last fall to earn SEC All-Freshman honors, and then there's his classmate, Louis Watson , who saw action in nine games and started one.
MSU's pass defense ranked 11th in the SEC last season, and the question for the Bulldogs isn't whether that will improve the consensus is it should but how all those corners will fit in and share duties.