MEMPHIS, Tenn. – With just two full days remaining before the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the Mississippi State football team spent Saturday in Memphis practicing, conducting its first press conference of the week and attending the NBA game between the Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets.
Afternoon Practice ...
Saturday morning began with a trip to the FCA Breakfast at 8 a.m. for those who chose to attend. Former Georgia Tech and Alabama head coach Bill Curry was the keynote speaker at the breakfast.
Once those team members returned to the hotel, the Bulldogs conducted offensive and defensive meetings before departing for Rhoads College and practice from approximately 2:30-4 p.m.
Offensive Press Conference ...
Following the practice session, offensive coordinator Les Koenning, senior All-American Gabe Jackson, senior running back LaDarius Perkins, junior wide receiver Jameon Lewis and sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott and departed for the Hilton Hotel and the first press conference of bowl week.
Koenning talked about the strengths of Rice’s defense and how its scheme fits with the players so well. He also reminisced about how his father coached at Rice and now how he will be going against the Owls on Tuesday afternoon. Koenning is also friends with many of the Rice coaches and has known Rice head coach David Bailiff for a number of years. Koenning credited the players and matchup problems they created for the offensive records broken in 2013.
The four student-athletes all conducted break-out interviews with the media members in attendance.
NBA Game ...
The main highlight of the night was heading to the FedExForum for the Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets NBA game. At the third timeout of the second quarter, freshman wide receiver De’Runnya Wilson and freshman defensive back Deontay Evans participated in a shooting contest against Rice, but suffered a defeat. Wilson was selected as the 2013 Alabama Mr. Basketball after leading Wenonah to three-straight Alabama High School Athletic Association 5A state championships. He scored more than 1,500 points in his career and tallied more than 1,500 rebounds. Evans also played basketball in high school, for McComb.
At the half, Mississippi State director of athletics Scott Stricklin, Bulldog head coach Dan Mullen, Rice director of athletics Joe Karlgaard and Owl head coach David Bailiff were introduced to the crowd. Stricklin and Mullen were given a commemorative navy blue Grizzlies’ jersey with Miss State on the back instead of a player’s name.
Players who did not attend the NBA game had the option of going to the professional rodeo at the Agricenter Show Place Arena. The rodeo featured top performers from around the country competing in bull riding, bareback bronco riding, steer wrestling and barrel racing.
Looking Ahead ...
Sunday, Mississippi State will have a similar day with an afternoon practice and press conference. Tomorrow’s media availability will feature the defensive side of the ball with coordinator Geoff Collins and four players speaking. Sunday night, the Bulldogs and Rice will all attend the Player/Coaches Dinner at the final multiple-team function prior to kickoff.