Tape It Up: Mississippi State: Turning Down the Intensity

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Mississippi State: Turning Down the Intensity

While programs across the country are using every possible preseason minute to give players at all levels of the depth chart sufficient opportunities to prove themselves, Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom is taking a slightly different tact. After Saturday's scrimmage, the team will not put on full pads again until their season opener on Aug. 30 against LSU. Why? So that the team's injured players can still come to practice.

Talk about customizing a workout.

Rather than cater practice sessions to the majority of players on the team, who happen to not be injured, Croom has decided to shift his focus to the minority, designing workouts to fit the injured among the group. Playing in the nation's toughest conference, this cannot be the most efficient way to prepare the Bulldogs for battle.

"The guys who have nagging injuries still come out to work," Croom said after Thursday's practice. "That's a positive. In a way we've got to be smart about these guys, making sure they don't make matters worse."

Obviously the coaches should be doing everything they can to make sure that injured players do not further aggravate their ails, but that should not mean that the entire team should reduce its intensity level while the injured few take time to heal. Helmets-shorts-shoulder pads practices are all well and good for those guys who need to go light on reps and contact, but what about the rest of the team? Taking away full-contact drills for nearly two weeks leading up to a contest with No. 2 LSU seems like a recipe for disaster.

And it's not like that's the only tough game Mississippi State will play this season. As the bottom feeder of the SEC West, their schedule pits the Bulldogs against Auburn, Tennessee and West Virginia, to name a few, and playing without full pads for the 12 days leading up to the Tigers is far from the best way to prepare the team for a dogfight. The seven linemen on both sides of the ball who have been limited in their work this week may be ready to rock come two Thursdays from now, but the rest of the team will be weighed down in pads, a disadvantage they cannot afford.

Help the injured players heal by having trainers work with them separately; don't bring the whole team down to their level. They may never make it back.

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