Moorhead has new goals to build on lessons learned in spring


Brett Hudson



STARKVILLE -- The 15 practices of the spring was a learning time for everyone in the Mississippi State football program. 


It was the time for MSU's offensive players to learn the Joe Moorhead system and the time for the defense to learn coordinator Bob Shoop, but it was also the time for those coaches to learn their players. With that experience in hand, Moorhead found a new goal for the team and one that he's emphasized in recent days. Moorhead shared that goal at the team's media day Saturday before its first of its three intrasquad scrimmages of the fall. 


"Another one of our goals, which was new from the spring and something we emphasized with our team, was the ability to handle adversity and handle prosperity and be able to show our emotions without being emotional," Moorhead said. "I think that's one of the great things about our team, that guys love to compete and wear their emotions on their sleeves, but at times I believe it can be counterproductive. 


"As it gets to that point in camp, there's a few dust-ups and a few altercations, but we always talk about our practice habits being our game realities, and if you're not going to fight on the field in a game, you're certainly not going to do it in practice." 




Shoop knows volatility 


The revolving door that has been MSU's defensive coordinator position, five men in as many seasons, has been a rarely seen occurrence in college football. It's also one the newest coach, Bob Shoop, has seen before. 


When Shoop took over Penn State's defense in 2014, he was the fourth coordinator in as many seasons after Tom Bradley, Ted Roof and John Butler held the position before him. He came to enjoy the conversating with players who had been through so much turmoil, as their minds were exposed to so many different philosophies. 


He sees the same things in the Bulldogs he's coaching now. 


"Those guys could talk the game a little bit, and those upperclassmen were really mature," Shoop said. "It's a good thing because that defense went on to be the No. 1 defense in the nation in run defense." 




Line additions impressing 


An already deep defensive line got even more bodies to work with over the summer, as tackle Devon Robinson joins ends Fabien Lovett and Jaden Crumedy in going through the first collegiate preseason camps. With two All-Southeastern Conference linemen returning and most of their backups coming back, as well, those freshmen have an uphill climb to playing time in 2018, but they've done enough to impress defensive line coach Brian Baker. 


"I'm excited about our class," he said. "They've all shown the ability to do certain things, a couple of them actually a little better than what I thought they were going to be. There's a lot of depth in front of them, so what I try to do is get them ready to walk before they run, get them to a point where they can really compete in a game." 




Specialists battle update 


While battles for the starting punter and long snapper roles rage on, MSU might be settling on a kickoff specialist. 


"Right now, Scott Goodman came in as a true freshman and is looking very good," special teams coordinator Joey Jones said. "He has a lot of confidence and has a strong leg. He's doing relaly good things right now. (Placekicker) Jace (Christmann) is kind of our backup kicker at that spot. 


"You don't see many freshmen coming in with the confidence he's come in with." 


Goodman enters the program from Brandon after earning a spot in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game. Christmann returns after a successful season as MSU's field goal and extra point attempt man, but Jones said sophomore Jordan Lawless has been providing competition. 


At long snapper, Jones said freshman Raymond Freeman and senior Joel Baldwin have been locked in a close battle, one that will add new contestants when the semester starts. 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson



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