STARKVILLE • Mississippi State won three of its final four games to earn bowl eligibility and have carried that positive emotion into the postseason.
The Bulldogs held their second practice for the Music City Bowl on Friday afternoon and had coach Joe Moorhead fired up when he left the field.
“We had a heck of a day with a ton of energy, a ton of urgency and great competition,” Moorhead said. “It was developmental in nature to get a bunch of the younger guys some reps. The kids are excited for this game and so is the coaching staff. We’ve got 17 days and we’re going to utilize every one of them.”
Friday was also MSU’s graduation so the seniors that received their diplomas were given the day off from practice. Saturday’s practice will also be a developmental practice and the Bulldogs will begin installing their game plan for Louisville on Monday.
State will practice in Starkville through Dec. 21 before breaking for a few days to allow the players to see their families. The team will depart for Nashville on Christmas night and begin practicing at Vanderbilt the following morning.
It is the second straight year the Bulldogs have gone bowling under Moorhead. He will, however, adjust his approach to practice a little differently than he did for the Outback Bowl last season.
“The basic structure of it is the same but we wanted to work in some more developmental stuff,” Moorhead said. “Quite frankly, we want to put the pads on more often, be more physical and bang around a little bit more.”
Moorhead said his team is much healthier now than when it wrapped up the regular season.
As for the quarterback situation, Moorhead said that freshman Garrett Shrader is taking reps with the first team while senior Tommy Stevens is getting the second-team snaps.
Mississippi State has already had two juniors declare early for the NFL draft. Running back Kylin Hill will still suit up for the Music City Bowl while cornerback Cameron Dantzler has elected to sit out.
“Ultimately it’s our job as a coaching staff to provide the young men with information,” Moorhead said. “Once they have the information, we allow them and their families to make a decision that’s in the best interest for their futures. Certainly they’ve done a ton for Mississippi State and we wish them the best moving forward. It’s a credit to those guys that they have the opportunity.”
A total of five underclassmen are allowed to file paperwork to receive a draft grade from the NFL. In addition to Hill and Dantzler, defensive end Marquiss Spencer and linebackers Erroll Thompson and Willie Gay Jr. have also requested feedback from the NFL.