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August 24, 2011With afternoon thunderstorms forecasted for the Starkville area Wednesday afternoon, Dan Mullen and his Mississippi State Bulldogs decided to make use of their indoor practice facility as a precaution.
The Bulldogs worked inside the Palmeiro Center to prevent any weather delays to get in all the drills scheduled for the day.
Mullen stated that the main team objective for the day was red zone work for both the offense and defense.
"The offense looked good sometimes and the defense looked good sometimes," Mullen said. "Sometimes it's tough. I worry about effort and I thought the effort was much better today than yesterday. I was pleased with the effort our guys gave. We kind of got after them a little bit after yesterday's practice and said we needed to see a certain level of effort out of them at practice and we saw it today."
The Bulldogs also have been experimenting with junior defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in its goal line packages on offense.
"That's something that we've worked with him just to have another big body back there whether it be at tight end or fullback just because he's so athletic," Mullen said. "He can catch and he probably can run."
On Tuesday Mullen announced that seniors Vick Ballard and Charles Mitchell would be the team captains for the 2011 season. Mitchell is in his fourth season with the Bulldogs and has been in the rotation at safety since year one.
It is his experience, leadership and work ethic that helped Mitchell earn the honor.
"It's just his attitude and preparation for games," Mullen said. "His work ethic on the practice field with the way he trains, prepares and then you watch him on film and he follows through with it. He might not be the flashiest player in the world but when you go and look at the grades he's always grading out. He does his job and knows where he is supposed to be and making the plays he's supposed to make. If we can get all our guys to play on that level we'd be in good shape."
Much has been made this offseason about the battle at left tackle between senior James Carmon and redshirt freshman Blaine Clausell replacing first round draft pick Derek Sherrod.
Those are certainly some big shoes to fill for two players with zero snaps at the position but Mullen just wants them to be themselves.
"I'm not concerned about it because the players who are going to play, I don't expect them to go be Derek Sherrod," Mullen said. "My concern with them is getting ready to go play in a game situation and not in their ability to do the job. It's getting them experience as fast as possible."
Mullen also likes the maturity growth of back-up quarterback Tyler Russell. The sophomore appeared in nine games last season which helped him become more comfortable in the offense.
"He's played in the games so the shock of the game doesn't get to him," Mullen said of Russell. "When things happen on the field there is no confused look, there's no 'what happened to me?' or how this is going too fast. He understands everything that's happening out there on the field. When he makes a mistake he usually knows that he's made the mistake before. Those are the things that you want. You know if you put him out there you can win."
State will resume practice Thursday afternoon and will fully begin game preparations for Memphis on Friday.