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Bulldog defense continues to dominate in scrimmage

April 13, 2012

Running back Josh Robinson attempts to break a tackle during Friday night's scrimmage. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)

Playmakers make plays when the lights are on.

On Friday night, there were Mississippi State Bulldogs making plays all over the football field in their second scrimmage of the spring.

The Mississippi State offense opened with a fast start scoring on its first two possessions.

Tyler Russell led 75 and 80-yard drives for touchdowns. His first scoring toss went to Malcolm Johnson on a 29-yard strike. Freshman running back Josh Robinson plunged in from 2 yards out for the second score.

“You get in these situations so you’ve got to come out here and make plays," said Russell, who was 16-of-33 for 310 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. "Malcomb Johnson, Joe Morrow, Brandon Hill, they really showed out (Friday). Everybody played good, but it wasn’t good enough to win and that’s one thing we’ve got to work on.”

The Bulldog defense quickly decided to accept the challenge from the offense and began to make plays. It began to force three-and-outs with regularity by applying pressure on the quarterbacks.

“We have an offense that executes at a high level," MSU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said. "The one thing I’ve learned is that you’ve got to give really good guys credit. One thing Tyler can do is soften you up because he can really throw the football. If you step up and load the box on him, he’ll pick you apart at times.”

The one guy Russell couldn’t fool was Darius Slay. The defensive back had three interceptions in the scrimmage for the Bulldogs

“At times (Friday night), I did a pretty good job playing with him, but right there at the end he fooled me,” said Russell. “He dropped back and I thought I had a big gain and then I saw him come out and catch the pick.”

Joe Morrow also had a solid evening for the offense with three catches, including a 82-yard scoring strike from Russell.

“The defense played good, but we had our opportunities and that’s what’s upsetting,” said MSU offensive coordinator Les Keonning. “If we had walked out there in an SEC deal, we’d be upset because of the opportunities. The defense played well but we’ve got to be able to take it consistently and move the football.”

Overall, the stingy MSU defense forced five turnovers, four interceptions and one fumble recovered for a 42-yard touchdown from Taveze Calhoun.

“We are really still in the process of defining who we are going to be,” said Wilson. “The really nice thing is that we have some depth. A year ago we really didn’t have that much and gets me excited.”

State’s head coach Dan Mullen wasn’t on hand for the Bulldogs scrimmage as he and Megan welcomed the birth of their daughter Friday afternoon.

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