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August 7, 2011Sunday marked a number of significant changes for the Mississippi State football team, who finished up day four of fall training camp. The team moved practice to "The Farm" otherwise known as South Farm, located on the south end of campus by the vet school. It was the first practice completely closed to all fans and media and it was also the first practice since day one where all 105 players were at work together.
What did Dan Mullen work on in privacy on the farm?
"Special teams, offense, defense, individual, the whole lot," Mullen said.
"Just work. Everything," he said. "Good work day. Lot of teaching going on, it's still early in the process for our guys getting used to being back out on the field. Lot of teaching."
While working on a farm may sound hotter somehow, Mullen said it wasn't so bad. It was warm, he said, but, "We've had hotter days."
Mullen said the biggest difference was the speed of practice. In split-squad practices - where seniors and freshmen practice in the morning and those in between in the afternoon - Mullen said there is more individual work but less rest time during drills.
In the split practices, Mullen said, after the first-team goes, they only get a break for the second-team and then they are back in the action.
"Now, you've got threes go and sometimes some fours go, so you get a little more of a breather in between," Mullen said. "But that also allows you to move practice along much faster."
The Bulldogs were still in shells today, meaning just helmets and shoulder pads, but they go to full pads tomorrow morning in a practice closed to the public, but open to the media, at South Farm.
As his team enters the more intense portion of camp, he said it was beneficial for the players to get individual work the previous two days in split practices.
"The immediate ones you see a lot more of with the young guys because, you know, they got a lot of individual attention the last few days, so they're not quite as lost as they would be if we hadn't done that," Mullen said.
MSU's head coach remains closed-lipped as his team exits the public portion of camp. He declined to answer whether or not sophomore running back LaDarius Perkins (flu-like symptoms) and redshirt freshman tight end Malcolm Johnson (illness) were back at practice today after missing yesterday.
Said Mullen, "We don't talk about that stuff."
When asked who individually has stood out to him the last few days, he gave a clear and unsurprising answer.
"Charles Mitchell, Quentin Saulsberry," Mullen said. "They're leading pretty good."
Mullen chooses privacy on the details of practices and players, but he spoke freely about what makes fall training camp so important and unique for his team.
"Training camp is supposed to be different," Mullen said. "When you go out there it allows you to have a different mindset."
Mullen compared it to spring practices, saying the two are vastly different, though both have their necessities and benefits.
"Spring camp is open and we have crowds there and fans there," he said. "There's a lot of time for teaching and guys doing new things they haven't done before. Training camp is a time to get locked away and just only football."
Said Mullen, "There's no school going on. There's no girls on campus. Nothing. It's all ball. That to me is part of it, that this is a different deal. Then we come back over when it's game week then your whole preparation, practice, everything changes to go game preparation. That's the benefit of making sure it makes everything totally different."
Linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator Geoff Collins said it is a good time for bonding and creating a "family atmosphere." Each position group is drive to the farm and back by their position coach and Collins said his linebackers already had a CD of songs for them to listen to in the van.
The Bulldogs take to the field again tomorrow morning at 10.