March 25, 2008
Mississippi State, MS (UWIRE) -- With tangible individual awards from last season's Liberty Bowl victory handed out to the players in the form of championship rings prior to Thursday's practice, head coach Sylvester Croom anticipated a motivated practice session. He expected the players to appear they wanted more than to remain content with last season.
What he said he saw was a team which appeared to be complacent with the status quo.
"We gave them their rings today, and we have sort of been practicing like we're satisfied with having a nice, pretty little Liberty Bowl ring," Croom said. "I was very pleased with what we accomplished last season, but that was never the goal. The way we're practicing right now, there's no way we can get to where we want to go."
The exchange from the center to the quarterback is still a concern for the team thus far in the spring practice.
The area has been a problem since the beginning of spring when the position was vacated upon the departure of last season's starter Royce Blackledge.
Sophomore J.C. Brignone stepped into the role at the start of spring but missed several practices before spring break due to a death in his family.
Since returning from the break, he has further embraced the role, but Croom said there's still plenty of room for improvement.
"We still have too many problems with center-quarterback exchanges," he said. "I understand that's part of the transition to a new center, but that has got to end real fast."
First team quarterback Wesley Carroll was on the receiving end of many of those exchanges, but two other quarterbacks have been in a battle for the back-up role this spring.
Redshirt freshman Chris Relf and junior walk-on Tyson Lee have been auditioning for the job.
"There's only one way to find out and that is to go live," Croom said. "I'm not going to put them in a game and then find out. I'm going to find out how they're going to perform when the bullets start flying."
Croom noted that Carroll has improved from last season, and he also took note of some exceptional performances from a few of the players on the same side of the ball as the quarterback.
He said he particularly liked the additions of redshirt freshman Robert Elliott and converted defensive back Wade Bonner to the running game.
"We have got a chance to be more explosive on offense," Croom said. "Bonner and Elliott give us some explosiveness that we haven't had."
On the defensive side of the ball, Croom said he was pleased with the play of defensive back Derek Pegues, linebacker Dominic Douglas and defensive lineman Jimmie Holmes in Thursday's practice.
(C) 2008 The Reflector via UWIRE