Dan Mullen took to the phone for the final SEC coaches teleconference of the regular season. His Bulldogs take on Ole Miss on Saturday in the annual Egg Bowl (6 p.m., ESPNU), and so these were his final public comments before the game.
He talked about the meaning of this game, the Rebel offense, and might have taken a dig at Hugh Freeze when talking about Thanksgiving plans (wouldn’t be the first time). You be the judge. Here’s the full transcript.
“This is the biggest week of the season for our guys. It’s a game that, obviously, we treat very differently than all the other games. it’s a big rivalry game and means so much to our team but also our university and the state of Mississippi and Bulldog fans everywhere. We’ve had a little different week of preparation this week. We do things differently and we’re getting ready for a big game.”
How the game compares this year to past Egg Bowls:
“I view it as the same. To me, the game hasn’t changed a lick. Whatever your records are, throw it out. I think they were ranked the first year we played them, they were in the top 25. The next two years they were kind of struggling a little bit but, to me, that’s why records don’t matter in these type of games. It’s all about this one game for both teams and how important it is in this one game.”
How does this rivalry compare to other rivalries you’ve been part of?
“The fact that in the other rivalry games I’ve seen, coached in and been a part of, you’re talking about a neighbor against neighbor rivalry. It’s probably similar to Utah-BYU. When you look at some other schools, they have multiple rivals or rivals that are in other states and it’s not something that your neighbors are dealing with on a daily basis. I think that’s what makes it, really, the biggest rivalry I’ve ever been a part of because you’re talking about neighbor-to-neighbor rivalry. That’s what makes it really important.”
On how Ole Miss played Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU closer and what it tells him about the Rebels:
“It’s not those games. It’s every game. They play hard. They played hard against Vanderbilt, they played hard against Arkansas. So, I think that’s part of it. If you play hard and give yourself an opportunity to win, and that’s what I’ve really seen from them. They’re playing hard.”
Ole Miss played Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU closer than MSU did. Do you use that as a measuring stick?
“No, because I think we played other teams probably better than they did, too. Like I said, this is such a different game to me. I don’t use it that much, I guess. We probably played LSU pretty similar. A&M didn’t turn it over seven times against us, if you want to go game by game. They did against them. Alabama, they scored in the red zone and we didn’t one time and that really was the difference in those games. Arkansas, I thought they turned it over a little more against us than they did against them. I don’t really compare much. I’m trying to think of all the other crossover games. Like I said, none of that stuff matters when you get to this game. Anybody you played, I don’t think that has any relevance. It’s really how you’re going to perform this week.”
On similarities and matchup between Ole Miss WR Donte Moncrief and CB Johnthan Banks:
“I think it is pretty good. Their strengths are similar. You look at Moncrief and he’s a great route runner, very disciplined, sharp routes and has great hands. He has really excellent ball skills. And then he has length and size. Those are a lot of the attributes people put with John. He’s great at the top part of the route, he has tremendous ball skills and he has size and length. I think it should be a pretty interesting matchup on Saturday.”
“They go home. We finish at noon tomorrow, and then the travel squad – because we can only bring 70 of our guys to the game with the SEC rules – our travel squad arrives back here 2:45 on Friday. We’ve done that every year. Like I said, you can’t preach your program one way and then act a different way. We’re a pretty tight family program here, and we want to make sure our kids understand that. That’s important for me to let them go home, and if they have the opportunity to go home and have dinner with their families on Thanksgiving, or go to a teammate’s house or a coach’s house and have a little bit of a family day on Thanksgiving.”
Anyone coming to your house?
“They haven’t reported yet. Everybody kind of seems to be going to other people’s houses. I don’t know. They must not think I’m a good cook or something. A lot of guys, with a close team, a lot of guys go to other guys’ houses. So, some of the receivers that live far away might go to Chad Bumphis‘ house. That just shows how close-knit our team is.”
What’s QB Bo Wallace brought to the Ole Miss offense?
“One, he played in that offense back at Arkansas State, so he had familiarity with it. He wasn’t coming in as a blank slate. He had experience, he understood what they were trying to get accomplished. And two, he brings confidence. He won a national championship last year, so he brings some confidence to that group. When your quarterback has confidence, a lot of other guys play with confidence.”
Does the Ole Miss offense compare to Texas A&M’s?
“No, I think they’re very different than them. They compare maybe to Auburn from a couple of years ago with Gus Malzahn. A little bit more that style of offense than I would say A&M’s offense.”
To the layman, what’s the difference between those offenses?
“The plays they run with the gap schemes and the motions and the different backs in the backfield are very, very different. It’d probably be a lot more similar to what you saw out of Auburn in the past than that of Texas A&M now.”