STARKVILLE, Miss. - At the midway point of the spring practice schedule, Mississippi State went through its first full-scale scrimmage here on Saturday morning. While both the offense and defense had reasons to celebrate during the course of the action, only the defensive players were enjoying themselves at the end when the final score was announced.
Confined to the turf practice fields after heavy rains soaked practice fields overnight, the Bulldogs worked for nearly 100 plays focusing on full-field drives at the beginning, then working on various situations throughout the practice. The scrimmage focused work on mainly the first offense versus the first defense and the second offense against the second defense.
After a pair of three-and-outs forced by the two defensive units to start the day, the first offense got on the board with a 62-yard Chris Relf run. Relf pulled the ball on an option read play and took it around the right end, showing breakaway speed as he raced to the endzone. On the next possession, the Tyler Russell-led second offense put together a nine-play, 65-yard drive capped by a Russell 34-yard touchdown pass to LaDarius Perkins.
After a series of full-field drives beginning at the offense's 35 yardline and the defense's 40, the Bulldogs worked on situations the rest of practice. During full-field work, Relf finished 7-of-11 for 33 yards while Russell completed 12 of 17 passes for 156 yards and a pair of touchdowns. To open up a portion of practice focusing on third downs, Relf hit Chad Bumphis for a 60-yard score.
But the defense was the story along the line of scrimmage all day long. The big defensive line held the tailback trio of Vick Ballard, Robert Elliott and Perkins to only 20 yards on 12 carries during full-field drills. The front seven also racked up three sacks during the first part of practice, and added to that tally during third-down and redzone work.
"The defense won the day," Mullen said. "They were really winning big in open field, but the offense did a nice job of getting in the endzone when they had scoring chances late in practice. We'll go back and watch the film and get a better idea of where we stand as a whole after today."
The Bulldogs will have the rest of the Easter weekend off before returning for Monday classes and workouts. The team will be back on the practice fields Tuesday at 3:45 to begin the third week of spring drills. The spring period will close out on Saturday, April 17 with the Maroon-White game at 5 p.m. A crowd in excess of 40,000 is expected for the signature event of Super Bulldog Weekend presented by Regions.
(Please note, stats only include open-field scrimmage, not third-down, redzone and goalline situations)
Relf 62 rush
Perkins 34 pass from Russell
Heavens 17 pass from Russell
SITUATIONAL AND GOAL LINE SCORING
Bumphis 60 pass from Relf
Relf 7 rush
Bumphis 9 pass from Relf
Ballard 2 rush
RUSHING: Elliott 3-0; Relf 7-72 TD; Perkins 3-(-3); Ballard 6-23; Russell 2-11; Heavens 1-7; Marcus 5-28; Shumpert 3-8.
PASSING: Relf 7-11-33 yards; Russell 12-17-156-2 TD
RECEIVING: Bumphis 4-16; Heavens 5-52 TD; Henderson 3-43; Berry 1-11; Perkins 1-34 TD; Cook 2-17; Elliott 1-(-4) Green 1-3; Ballard 1-(-2); Sanders 1-6.
SACKS: Carmon; Cox; McPhee