MSU adjusts to finish up spring installation
If Mississippi State has become used to anything over the last few months, it has been adjustment as the Bulldogs learn the schemes of new head coach Joe Moorhead and become acquainted with a new-look coaching staff.
The Bulldogs were again adapting on Saturday as their originallyscheduled scrimmage was canceled due to heavy rain and thunderstorms. Instead, they opted for practice indoors at the Palmeiro Center.
“I think the kids were a little disappointed because of the weather that we were not going to have an opportunity to scrimmage, but we got a full practice in, got all of our team periods and individuals in, so we got much out of (Saturday)," Moorhead said. "I thought the kids did a great job not allowing circumstances outside of their control to dictate their attitude and behavior.”
Saturday allowed State to put the finishing touches on the installation of Moorhead's schemes. Moorhead said there will be more things added in fall camp and during the upcoming season, but the base foundation of all three phases of the game are now in.
With only one week left of spring practice, Moorhead has been pleased with how much his players are retaining from workout to workout.
“I don't want to sound like a Pollyanna and come in here every day and tell you that it is sunshine and rainbows, but they are taking the information from the meeting room, going out on the field playing hard and we are seeing the precision improve every day in practice,” Moorhead said. “From that standpoint, there hasn't been a day where we looked at the film and said we didn't get better. It hasn't been by leaps and bounds, but we've been improving every practice.”
Moorhead hopes that trend continues this week leading up to the annual Maroon and White Game which will take place at Davis Wade Stadium next Saturday at 3 p.m.
“(I hope to see) continued understanding of the scheme and getting better from the fundamental, technique and precision aspect,” Moorhead said. “The installation is done and now it is just about refining.”
Mississippi State wide receiver Stephen Guidry has been back at practice this past week after missing the week prior. Moorhead said MSU is being cautious with Guidry as he deals with an upper-body injury.
“He's good,” Moorhead said. “We are just being kind of like with (quarterback Nick Fitzgerald) and just being patient with him, but he has put on 20 pounds of muscle since he has been here. He is very gifted athletically and brings a skill set to us. He has been getting in some one-onones and doing some stuff.”
Moorhead said he anticipates that, barring a setback, Guidry will be fully healthy by fall camp.
Guidry, who enrolled at MSU in January, isn't the only early enrollee that has impressed Moorhead. Wide receiver Devonta Jason has also and defensive back Marcus Murphy.
While Guidry came to MSU from junior college, both Jason and Murphy came from high school.
“I was kidding around with them on the field and said, ‘y'all should be getting ready to go to prom but you're getting ready for practice No. 11,'” Moorhead said. “(Jason) has done a great job bouncing around to a couple of different positions and we have him settled in now at the X position. He is doing great in the classroom and on the field. Marcus is doing the same thing, playing a little bit of nickel, little bit of safety and doing some special teams. Stephen, being the mid-year junior college kid, if you are that kind of kid, that's what you want – to enroll early. There are a lot of benefits to it academically, socially and football-wise. They've all taken advantage of that.”
With Fitzgerald limited this spring, most of the live reps at quarterback in practice have gone to Keytaon Thompson. Thompson impressed as Fitzgerald's backup last season and he is again catching eyes this spring with the new coaching staff.
“The thing I have been most impressed with is his approach and maturity,” Moorhead said. “For being a young guy, he's got a calmness, a poise and a presence about him. He doesn't get rattled and that is what you want out of the quarterback position. He's never too high when it's going well and never too low when it's going bad. He has a nice, steady approach and that's not even mentioning his talent and skill set. His approach has been one that has been very impressive.”