Mississippi State football held its final practice of the 2016 season on Christmas Eve at Calvary Christian High School before spending the remainder of the afternoon at Madeira Beach.
The two-hour practice culminated preparations for the St. Petersburg Bowl. The Bulldogs (5-7) and Miami (Ohio) (6-6) kick off at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT on Dec. 26 from Tropicana Field.
“I’ve been happy with our focus on the practice field,” MSU head coach Dan Mullen said. “We have to see it translate. We have less than 48 hours before foot hits the ball. I think our guys have had a pretty good approach. They have come out with the right attitude and focus when we are out here on the practice field. This is a big transition time right now. We haven’t played in quite a while, and we have to transition into game mode.”
It has been nearly a month since the Bulldogs claimed the Egg Bowl with a 55-20 victory over Ole Miss. All that remains is a Christmas Day walk through at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. It will be MSU’s first game in a dome/retractable roof stadium since the 2013 season-opener.
“One of the first things with any stadium you go to is have the quarterbacks walk on the field and find the play clocks,” Mullen said. “We are getting the opportunity to go (to the stadium) tomorrow. Just like anytime you are going to a stadium you are unfamiliar with, you want to get in and see any of the intricacies and what is different about it.”
The Bulldogs will hold a traditional Christmas morning at their hotel, the Vinoy Renaissance. The players will exchange secret Santa gifts and eat a team meal before heading to Tropicana Field later that afternoon for a team picture.
“We will have a team meeting and a church service in the morning, and then everyone on the team got a secret Santa they had to go get a gift for,” Mullen said. “Santa knows where you are, so maybe he will stop and bring some gifts under the tree for the team in the morning.”