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March 26, 2011The defense had its moments and so did the offense. But the main goal, said some of the MSU coaches, was to get as many players a number of reps during Saturday's scrimmage. For the most part, that goal was accomplished during the Bulldogs' initial scrimmage of spring practice.
"We got a lot of reps and a lot of opportunities to play a lot of guys," said MSU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson. "So it was about what you expected to see in the first scrimmage. We had some guys play really, really well but they were the usual suspects like the Charles Mitchells and those guys that have played a lot of football.
"The biggest thing is getting these young guys up to that level because our standards are not gonna change. So we played a lot of guys and now we have a lot of things to teach off of."
The defense allowed a stretch of touchdowns during Saturday's red-zone work, including three consecutive touchdowns. But in goal-line situations, the Bulldogs' defense held a slight edge and that caused the offense to run sprints after practice.
"At times (we were good)," said Wilson of his defense's goal line work and red-zone work. "When you look at the situations and it's third-and-long for the offense, defensively you should win. On goal line situations, the offense should be ahead of us. So both sides made some plays but we have to get more consistent in the red zone. We gave up 20 consecutive points and three touchdowns back-to-back because guys were not in position to make plays and we have to fix that."
And Wilson's pupils agreed.
"As a defense, we were kinda sloppy at times and good at times," said junior defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. "We just have to come out Tuesday and get better. In the red zone and goal line, those are the things that Coach Wilson really stresses about and winning the red zone. So we have to get better there."
Before the Bulldogs return to practice on Tuesday, that goal of "cleaning up" those mistakes is top priority.
"We won so I felt like we did good," said sophomore linebacker/defensive end Deontae Skinner. "But we got a lot of areas to improve on and clean up. Basically, we have some young players and guys moving around so we have to learn the playbook and our sets."
In certain situations, the MSU passing game had several highlights, including several nice grabs by Chris Smith and Malcolm Johnson. But then there were also some crucial dropped passes that ended drives.
"We lost and it came down to execution," said Smith, who caught a touchdown pass from Tyler Russell and had numerous other catches. "We lacked a couple of things and I dropped a couple of passes. Sometimes we were not clicking and sometimes we were and had three straight drives where we scored. But we are gonna keep getting better and better."
Senior Chris Relf took most of the first-team reps at quarterback and scored a couple of touchdowns in goal-line situations. But as his teammates noted, there is plenty of improvement left on the table before spring practice concludes next month.
"Coach made us live and wanted us to come out here and execute," said Relf. "I have to work more on my footwork and I think I have my passing down pat. But I have to settle down in the pocket and work on my feet.
"But I think I could have done better today. I thought we gave good effort but have a lot of work to do. We got to get in our playbook and execute plays."