STARKVILLE — A lot of spectators walked away impressed Saturday with the Mississippi State University football team’s offense.
MSU coach Dan Mullen tried to provide the novice fan some perspective to the first scrimmage of the season.
“At times (the offense) was good,” Mullen said. “At times the offense looked real good, and then it looked real bad. When you start counting negative plays and sacks, they can be real game changers. We have to clean up the consistency part.”
In front of several junior prospects and their families, MSU showcased some big offensive plays in the pass game. The offense shined during the red zone situational work.
“It’s because we have a lot of senior-led wide receivers,” MSU junior quarterback Tyler Russell said of the offense being ahead of the defense. “We spent a lot of time in the offseason putting plays in.”
Russell hit Brandon Heavens over the top of the defense for a 50-yard touchdown pass. However, in the roller coaster ride of the scrimmage for the junior signal caller, Denico Autry provided pressure in the pocket that helped linebacker Deonte Skinner intercept Russell’s a dump-off pass.
“There were a lot of mental mistakes out there today, and I take responsibility for all of them,” Russell said.
Russell again went to his favorite target of the spring in tight end Malcolm Johnson for a couple of nice pitch-and-catch plays. After loosening the defense up the middle with Johnson, Russell hit Arceto Clark on a 25-yard touchdown catch down the sideline. The throw was to Clark’s a back shoulder, but the senior made a tough grab.
“The key with our receivers is trust,” Russell said. “This spring is the first time I can remember where if I put the ball anywhere around them they’ll come down with it. It’s just repetition of plays.”
Freshman quarterback Dak Prescott, who has been receiving a lot of snaps as the backup, found tailback LaDarius Perkins on a wheel route play. The junior quickly got past linebacker Chris Hughes on his way to a 25-yard touchdown.
“I’m the older guy, so if Dak comes to ask me a question I have to be able to tell him what he did wrong and how to learn from it,” Russell said.
In his first significant work with the second-team offense, tailback Nick Griffin caught a touchdown pass from Prescott.
Mullen said Saturday the Bulldogs may be the most depth at tailback since he arrived in Starkville, but the little things, including the youth on the depth chart, that don’t show up on stat sheets concern the fourth-year coach.
“We like the talent that some of those (tailbacks) have,” Mullen said. “We just got to make sure they can do it because some of our sack issues are tailback issues and not offensive line issues.”
MSU’s next spring practice open to the public will be at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.