Mississippi State quarterback Keytaon Thompson throws a pass during Saturday's spring game at Davis Wade Stadium. Photo by: Jim Lytle/Special to the Dispatch
April 13, 2019 10:58:29 PM
Messy, ugly, wet, boring. There were plenty of iterations of the word bad to describe Saturday's Maroon and White Spring game at Davis Wade Stadium.
"I feel like I got an amateur degree in meteorology the last couple days," head coach Joe Moorhead joked of the weather.
Things were sloppy from the start in the Maroon team's 50-10 "victory."
Most notably, it was middling quarterback play that anchored Saturday's mediocrity.
Junior Keytaon Thompson, redshirt freshman Jalen Mayden, freshman Garrett Shrader and redshirt junior Logan Burnett combined for 15-of-32 passing, 150 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Most worrisome was Thompson's day. The presumed starter coming into spring camp, there was an expectation he'd bring a new identity to an MSU passing attack that ranked 13th in the Southeastern Conference in passing yards per game last season.
Instead, Saturday brought more questions in the perplexing parable of what Thompson brings to the MSU offense.
The New Orleans native missed open receivers high and wide regularly in the early going Saturday, starting the game 3-of-10 -- albeit a handful of drops didn't help his case.
On the third play of the session, Thompson dropped back to pass.
Losing his footing before throwing, he airmailed a wide-open Stephen Guidry streaking down the east sideline at Davis Wade Stadium for a would-be touchdown.
This isn't to say Thompson is devoid of talent as he completed six of his final eight attempts and tossed all three passing touchdowns on the day.
Midway through the second half he dropped in a picture perfect ball to redshirt sophomore Austin Williams for a score toward the back-right corner of the south end zone.
Thompson backed that up with a perfect back-shoulder floater to redshirt junior receiver Osirus Mitchell in the same corner a few possessions later.
"It was kind of wet out there ... weird format of the spring game, but we have to learn to just fight through those things and still execute at a high level," Thompson said.
Passing game aside, the MSU run game was as good as has been advertised this spring.
With Nick Fitzgerald off to the NFL, the MSU coaching staff has harped on relying more on running backs in the ground game. Saturday was evidence of that.
Columbus native Kylin Hill notched 47 yards and a touchdown on nine attempts as he stiff-armed and slapped away defenders on his treks through the trenches.
Redshirt senior running back Nick Gibson netted another 35 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries.
Defensively, freshman Aaron Brule lead all players with 3.5 tackles while junior Marquiss Spencer was second with three.
Brule also earned a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown when he jumped a second half Mayden pass.
Spencer too lit up the scoreboard when he stuffed redshirt senior running back Alec Murphy in the end zone for a safety.
The Bulldogs will conclude spring practice Tuesday with a walk-through style practice per MSU Athletics.
The regular-season opener against the University of Louisiana at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans is Aug. 31.
DAWG NOTES: Redshirt junior linebacker Erroll Thompson and redshirt senior offensive lineman Darryl Williams were named team captains postgame Saturday.
Thompson finished 2018 with 87 tackles and two interceptions while Williams has appeared in 32 games during his three seasons in Starkville.
"I thought the team did a good job," Moorhead said of choosing captains. "We talked about what the parameters were and how you identify leadership and what they need to do for their team. I had those guys talk to the team afterwards. I think the team did an excellent job in the selection process, and they picked the right two guys."
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