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August 22, 2011After two weeks of training camp, Mississippi State football has gone from the proving grounds of 'The Farm' back to the practice fields. After the "big scrimmage" Friday night, Dan Mullen's team entered game mode today, with the season-opener at Memphis only 10 days away.
Well, sort of game mode, anyway.
"Training camp is over, now we're kind of getting into game mode," Mullen said. "Sometimes it takes a day or two to get used to that. Really today, tomorrow, Wednesday is that transition and then really game plan after that."
For the first time since prep for the Gator Bowl in December, Mullen had the scout team back on the field. Generally, freshmen who do not play are relegated to scout team duty, but Mullen said that all of them did it today, the first time out.
"Every freshman went to scout team today because they've got to learn how to do it," Mullen said "That doesn't mean they're going to stay there, but today was our first day with scout team so we sent all of our freshmen, all our newcomers down there so they can learn what it is to be on a scout team. It was only a small amount of practice today."
All of the newcomers, that is, except senior linebacker Brandon Maye, the Clemson transfer.
Said Mullen, he already did that four or five years ago at Clemson.
Having the scout team back, Mullen said, is all about prepping the players for in-season routines.
"Yeah, I mean, just teaching the game mode, teaching how to when we split up into scout teams how to get the looks that we want to get," Mullen said. "There's a lot of young guys that are out there doing it and some that are doing it for the first time. Some never did it in high school so they gotta learn."
So, how was practice on the first day of game mode for the Bulldogs? Not ideal, according to Mullen, but it could have been worse.
"We were a little sluggish to start," Mullen said. "I was a little disappointed in how we started, but coming off a weekend off, the big scrimmage Friday, it's hard for me to say I could expect it, because I expect greatness at all time out of our guys and the effort. I think they picked it up and we did some good things today."
In training camp, the objective was installing the offense and defense and then making sure the players had it down pat, a process that took most of the two weeks.
Now, practice changes from big picture to specific prep as MSU gets ready to face Memphis.
"I just think the exact attention to details that needs to go on," Mullen said. "Instead of thinking about the whole offense or the whole defense, kind of the specific of what you're using each game."
The other change? Mullen isn't trying to figure out who can play anymore. He's not looking for the freshman who could make an immediate impact. Everyone got equal time in training camp, and sometimes the backups got more. Now, however, opportunities are slim.
"Reps are going to start getting cut down for the younger guys more and more," Mullen said. "So on their reps they better be that much better. That's important."