STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen is playing some details close to the vest.
Following Friday”s closed scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium, Mullen was vague in his assessment of individual performances, scores and participation.
So were the Mississippi State players.
When asked Saturday about scoring plays or stats from the scrimmage, neither Tyler Russell nor Chris Relf could remember much other than “it went well.”
“It doesn”t really matter right now,” Relf said of stats from the scrimmage. “What we”re trying to do right now is come out here and work hard.”
Mullen described the scrimmage as “good,” noting alignment issues as one of the areas to tidy before the season opener against Memphis on Sept. 4.
But two weeks ahead of the Memphis game, coaches and players should be gaining more clarity in position battles. Heading into Friday”s scrimmage, Mullen mentioned a list of positions — quarterback, outside linebacker, wideout, running back — where he was looking forward to seeing the competition spawn starters.
Saturday, he gave very little indication anyone had accomplished that Friday.
“I have a good idea in my mind what we”re going to do, but we”ve still got a couple of more weeks before we play,” said Mullen.
Mullen”s response to the quarterback competition between Relf, Russell and true freshman Dylan Favre didn”t offer much insight, either.
“They”re still developing,” Mullen said. “We”re going to keep developing them and see how the season plays out for us.”
Prior to Friday, Mullen said he wanted to see more of the underclassmen perform in the scrimmage and that repetitions would be divided among guys who hadn”t already proven themselves in game situations.
A lot of the team”s older players weren”t necessarily limited in the scrimmage, though defensive end Pernell McPhee said he didn”t play a snap.
“This was more for us to evaluate the younger guys,” Mullen said. “We counted a lot of reps, making sure that the right guys get the right reps for us to evaluate.”
Russell said he made some good throws and that the offense “did really good.” The red shirt freshman has been working mostly with the second string-unit, dealing with more pressure behind MSU”s young and inexperienced second-string offensive line.
Coaches have commented on the falloff after Mississippi State”s senior-laden first string offensive line exit”s the game. Mullen shed some light into the current rotation”s effect on the group”s play.
“There is (a falloff), but what we do, too, is rotate about seven with the ones,” Mullen said. “When the twos go, you”re really starting at the eighth lineman on the depth chart when the twos go in the game.
“With that said, those guys just have to grow up fast. We”ve got a lot of young kids.”
Though Relf and Russell have shared first-team reps, Russell doesn”t feel like his higher work load with the second string has affected coaches” evaluation of his performance through camp.
“I feel like, the first offensive line, they know what to do,” Russell said. “I”m working with the twos and if someone comes free and unblocked, that just allows me to get better. When I do go with the ones, I know they”re going to block and if they don”t I”ll still be able to make plays because I”ve been going with the twos. But the twos are doing good, too. I have no problem working with those guys because we”re getting better every day.
Tobias Smith on the mend?
Redshirt sophomore guard Tobias Smith was seen leaving the Palmeiro Center with a boot on his foot Saturday, though it”s unclear how long he”s been wearing the stabilizing cast.
A team spokesman said Smith, who did participate in the scrimmage, was unavailable to the media due to the “minor injury.”
Earlier this preseason, Mullen said the team had adopted a new policy of reserving comment on injuries until the Thursday before game day.
Smith has had a string of ankle injuries dating back to his true freshman and red shirt freshman seasons. Coaches have touted his ability as a starter, which hinges on his ability to stay healthy.