State coaches satisfied with spring drills

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 20, 2000

Mississippi State football coaches are not bashful about expressing satisfaction with progress their 2000 team made during spring drills that ended last Saturday with their last scrimmage.

It’s interesting that they would be quite so vocal, but I don’t blame them if they see it in their squad. Everything evidently suited head coach Jackie Sherrill and all coaches. They didn’t even keep score in the game, but that didn’t matter — they knocked!

From 6-foot-4, 346-pound guard Courtney Lee to smaller folks like the quarterbacks and halfbacks, all Bulldogs got after each other last Saturday. &uot;We’re on the field to get after each other, and if we have to knock each other out to do it, so be it,&uot; exclaimed Lee for the press.

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Even freshman receiver Justin Jenkins set up a short touchdown by Kevin Fant with a nifty 25-yard reverse. So they’re not all seniors or upperclassmen.

It’s sad that nobody backed down in the ferocious spring game. That, again, included quarterbacks, cornerbacks and all others.

It reminded of the Bulldogs’ 17-7 Peach Bowl victory over Clemson last December when they knocked opposing players around with gusto. They knew thay could do it, so they took hard (but clean) shots at each other this spring.

Sherrill, famous for his hard-nosed policies that he learned under late great Alabama coach Bear Bryant, calls the 2000 team &uot;one of the most physical we’ve had.&uot;

Even more to the point, coach Sherrill added that &uot;if we can get after each other like that, you know what we can do to other teams.&uot; It is thus noted that the Bulldogs are more physical than they were last fall. Menacing to say the least, when you consider how aggressive the 10-win Dogs were in ’99.

More than 11,000 fans were treated to some 1999-type aggression by cornerback Fred Smoot, Playboy All-American, who noted that the players are the best of friends off the field, but &uot;enemies&uot; on the field.

One noteworthy case was several bone-shattering runs by fullback Kenny Williamson. &uot;We feel like we’ve always been a physical team,&uot; he said.

All that hitting is credited in large part to defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn of the Bulldogs. He taught it at Ole Miss and now State. He’s known for his smart as well as aggressive tactics, so Mississippi State will still be rugged in the trenches.

Spring drills don’t always tell the whole story, of course, but from all accounts a good lead on what State (and Bulldog opponents) can expect this fall resulted from last Saturday’s spring football game in Starkville.

I’m prone to believe ’em, and I bet you are, too.

…The University of Georgia, whose all-around athletic program is, well, all-around, is almost sure to be among the SEC’s top football teams this fall. Again. They’re in spring drills now over in Athens. They were 8-4 last fall, which included an exciting 28-25 overtime win over Purdue in the Outback Bowl. &uot;Only&uot; 18 of 22 starters return from that team.

Georgia’s Lady Bulldogs’ swimming and diving team hasn’t done bad for itself, either. In fact, coach Jack Bauerle’s lady swimmers recently picked up their second consecutive national swimming and diving title, and the Lady Bulldogs set a world 400-meter medley relay team record.

Wow…Betcha local Georgia U. Alumnus Joe Hogan is proud of the Peach State ladies. In fact, he told me he is.