What we learned, saw from Day 1 of Mississippi State football practice

Nick Suss
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football held its first preseason practice Friday in advance of the Bulldogs' season-opener against Louisiana Tech on Sept. 4.

There weren't too many surprises. Just about everyone who was expected to rep with the first team did. Returning starters looked good. Some newcomers flashed, others looked raw but with big potential. Coach Mike Leach said he was impressed by defensive end Jordan Davis and safeties Fred Peters and Collin Duncan, to name a few.

The Clarion Ledger was on hand for the whole practice. Here are a few notable observations from the Bulldogs' first day back on the practice field.

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It didn't seem like much of a QB battle

Sophomore Will Rogers took an extreme majority of the reps with the first-team offense. That isn't much of a surprise. Rogers started the last half of 2020 as a true freshman, and this year marked the first real offseason he's had as a college quarterback. 

Rogers looked good at times, particularly in red zone drills. There were other times during 7-on-7 drills where Rogers made a few bad throws into tight coverage or under-threw his receivers. But Leach said he senses Rogers has gained confidence heading into his sophomore year and is potentially the player who watches the most film of anyone on his team.

South Alabama transfer Chance Lovertich took all the reps behind Rogers. Lovertich looked capable, especially in team drills, but Leach said he does need to get better at protecting the ball.

Southern Miss transfer Jack Abraham warmed up with the team but did not participate in any drills. Leach elected not to comment on why Abraham did not participate in drills.

Some depth chart notes

There weren't many surprises on the depth chart.

From left to right the offensive line was Charles Cross, Kameron Jones, LaQuinston Sharp, Kwatrivous Johnson and Scott Lashley. Jo'quavious Marks was the first-team running back and the first-team receivers were Malik Heath, Austin Williams, Jaden Walley and Makai Polk.

Defensively Mississippi State relied on a large rotation up front including Davis, De'Monte Russell and Nathan Pickering among others. At linebacker the primary options were Tyrus Wheat, Aaron Brule and Nathaniel Watson. Peters, Duncan and Jalen Green worked at safety with returning starters Emmanuel Forbes and Martin Emerson at cornerback.

A standout athlete

Polk, a transfer receiver from Cal, showed promise as a vertical threat. He made a couple of acrobatic catches and repped with the first team most of the day.

Leach spoke after practice about how he's excited about the depth Mississippi State added to its receiver room this offseason. Polk figures to be one of the key pieces the Bulldogs added and might be able to bring a new aspect to the vertical passing attack.

At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Polk plays long and appeared to thrive in single coverage down the sideline. 

Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or nsuss@gannett.com. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.