Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen held his weekly teleconference Sunday afternoon following the Bulldogs 24-20 loss to Auburn.
Here is a transcript of the call…
What in a coach’s mind does finish mean?
Mullen: “To me it’s a lot of things. You have to finish plays, which means when you are right there, you finish out the play. As a team, we play great, we get opportunities to win the game, are we finishing it at the right moment? When we create a turnover, we have momentum and the ball at midfield, is that going to be our best drive of the game at that moment? Or are we backed to the wall, we have a chance to finish it, drive it out to midfield and punt it deep?”
How much has the QB changes, injuries disrupt what you wanted to do in the first month of the season?
Mullen: “Obviously injuries hurt. You’ve got good players not playing for you. That’s part of the game. I’m sure every team deals with injuries. Maybe us more than some at this point in the season, with all the different injuries that we’ve had to deal with especially at quarterback. Secondary, we’re such a young secondary. Our only three veteran players we have in the secondary have suffered injuries. That hurts you constantly more than other things, but that’s part of the game.”
After touchdown in third quarter, offense bogged down, what caused that?
Mullen: “I’m thinking mistakes right there because we had two of those possessions at midfield and we did not capitalize and score touchdowns on.”
What did you think of Dak’s performance?
Mullen: “I thought overall Dak did pretty well. He missed a couple of little things here and there, but overall I think he did pretty well going into that environment and handling the game. I thought he played with a lot of poise. He never was overwhelmed by any of the situations that he (faced).”
When did Dak find out he was going to start?
Mullen: “Dak assumed that he was going to be starting. Dak thought he was going to the starter last Sunday because of the question marks with Tyler (Russell). Dak came in and prepared for the start. Whether that was going to happen or not, he wouldn’t know until game day. He was preparing to be the starter.”
When was the decision made that Tyler wasn’t going to play (warmed up with the ones in pregame)?
Mullen: “I wanted to just make sure he was warming up and ready to go. The decision with Tyler was not cleared for contact. He was cleared to do stuff, but he was not cleared for contact. That was done in the locker room. We have him with a top spinal doctor, one of the in the country, evaluating right before the game. He said ‘hey I just don’t feel comfortable with him going into a game with contact right now.’ We’re not going to put a young man’s health in any sort of danger.”
Devon Bell’s numbers from 40-49 are good, but his numbers from 30-39 aren’t. Does that concern you?
Mullen: “Absolutely. Devon’s a big effort guy. He’s skilled and that’s something I constantly talk to him about. Kicking a field goal is like swinging a golf club. The harder you try to swing it, the more sideways it’s going to go. As an effort guy, he’s got to stop the effort and focus on the skill. Which is sometimes hard to do for a young player. I love his mentality. If he misses kick he’s out of his mind, but he wants to go harder. Sometimes you just have to focus on the skill aspect of it, not the effort aspect of it.”
Is it a different skill set on a 30-yard field goal than a 45-yard field goal?
Mullen: “It isn’t because he has such a strong leg. He has a very, very strong leg. With him it is that consistency. He just needs to have a nice, consistent leg swing. Sometimes he’s trying to kick 50-yard field goals every time he has. Even on a 50-yard field goal, he doesn’t need that big a leg. He has a strong enough leg to make it. He’s not kicking it like at kickoff every time.”