To mark the midway point of spring practice, Mississippi State ventured back into Davis Wade Stadium and held its first full-contact spring scrimmage.

Practice has been vital for MSU to get younger players reps and experience, because the roster will look almost completely new in 2015, thanks to many departing veterans.

Primarily, MSU is searching for Josh Robinson’s replacement in the backfield. Obviously, Ashton Shumpert will see an increased workload, but Friday, redshirt freshmen backs Dontavian Lee and Aeris Williams stole the show. The duo combined for 170 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Speedster Brandon Holloway also added a 75-yard rushing touchdown.

One aspect MSU isn’t lacking is receiving star power, and the position flexed its muscles Friday. Fred Ross and Fred Brown each had over 100 yards receiving. With a veteran quarterback like Dak Prescott, this duo could be in for a monster season.

MSU will return to practice Tuesday following Easter break.

Here’s what Dan Mullen said about the first scrimmage, via

Opening Statement

“We got a lot of work in which is good. I mean all different phases. One of the things you do today is you have a checklist of all the different things you want to try to get done. It might not ‘fit’ into the specific times of the scrimmage or the flow of the scrimmage, or like in a game as it would. I think we got a lot of the things we needed to done. We’ll get a great opportunity to evaluate some players, and let guys see how they’re doing. I think what especially a lot of younger players are going to see is they do some really good things sometimes, but for us to be successful, they’ve got to do good really things all the time.”

On thoughts at the midway point of spring …

“We’re just progressing along, progressing along. You know, spring is all about player development and getting a lot of guys different things. We’re 0-0 at the end of spring. I think our guys have a great attitude. I think they competed, I think they played hard, they give good effort. But I think they’ve got to really learn how to maximize themselves out here on the field.”

On running backs Aeris Williams and Dontavian Lee …

“It was good. They ran the ball hard. Again I want to go look at some of the reads, make sure they’re on it. It looked like they were a little hesitant at times, and they probably could have some things a little bit more full-speed. The check pass protection obviously is going to be critical for them. I thought they ran the ball hard, which I already knew that would happen. It’s the other things you have to make sure that they’re ready for.”

On the defense grasping Manny Diaz’ system …

“I believe they’re getting it slowly but surely. They’re getting it. You see some definite improvements; you see other things that are going to be maybe drastic differences from what we did before, of them trusting their job, trusting their teammates, trusting all the fits. And not sitting there saying boy is the ball really going to get turned-back to me the right way?”

On freshman Malik Dear …

“The biggest thing for him as you see he can do some things. But he’s got to learn the system, learn how to play it at the college level. And he’s got to do it consistently. It can’t be a great play and then he has to come subbed-out. I still think he’s working, got to get in a little bit better shape still, conditioning-wise to get ready to play at this level. But he shows he’s got the ability. We’ve just got to get him to do it consistently.”