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April 1, 2011After a physical practice on Thursday and their second scrimmage of the spring on Saturday morning, Mississippi State eased up a little during its Friday afternoon session.
The Bulldogs are preparing to go over to Davis Wade Stadium Saturday morning for what head coach Dan Mullen deemed as the most important day of the spring.
"It was a much lighter day today," Mullen said. "We were physical yesterday and we expect a physical scrimmage tomorrow. It was just a chance to try and clean some things up and we'll go watch it on film to see if we did."
Mullen held last Saturday's scrimmage on the practice fields but hopes to see more development from his players this time around.
"I'm very excited," Mullen said. "It's a very big day for us, probably the most important day of the spring because that will be our biggest scrimmage. It's huge because we've got to see the improvement from last week to this week."
MSU has emphasized its passing game extensively this spring which is something Mullen hopes will reap results in the fall. While the running game is still the Bulldogs bread and butter, the passing game has shown flashes that it will be more dynamic than in the past.
"The passing game always takes a lot more work," Mullen said. "The running game is really about being physical but there is a lot skill and timing involved in that passing game. It's never going to be a finished product so I feel a lot more comfortable that we are getting as many reps as we do in passing. We're throwing the ball a lot and that's harder but hopefully it's going to get us much more comfortable and consistent and accurate to have a higher percentage. I'd be really disappointed if we are below 62-percent completions next year."
State is fortunate to return leading rusher Vick Ballard in the backfield. The rising senior rushed 186 times for 968 yards and a school-record 19 touchdowns last season which proved his worth to his head coach.
"He's not somebody that I really need to see a whole lot out of," Mullen said. "I've seen him perform at a very high level on game day. What we've seen out of him is that same intensity that he always has."
Another back that showed signs of stardom last season was LaDarius Perkins. He had 813 yards of offense and three scores during his redshirt freshman season.
"He's growing which is what we want," Mullen said. "We know he's explosive and made big plays late in the season but he's got to develop into an all-around back."
While Mullen's offense is growing deeper with multi-positional players who can create mismatches, he also is gaining that on defense as well. Several of the Bulldogs defensive stars have the ability to line up at different positions which could also cause matchup problems.
"I love those guys," Mullen said. "It's the same as my offense, hybrid-type players who can play multiple positions. It's great because it gives you a lot of flexibility with guys like Matthew Wells and Johnthan Banks that can be hybrid-type players and give you a lot of flexibility. The great thing is right now there's some experience back there and a lot of these young guys are getting to learn from experienced players and that's what you need to build a program."
Saturday's scrimmage will begin at 10 a.m. and is open to the public.