Here’s a transcript of Mullen’s time on the call…
Mullen: “The open date gives you a great opportunity to look back at what we’ve been doing well on offense and defense and get some guys a little bit of rest. Some of the older guys need some rest and some of the younger guys need extra reps. It really gives them some extra work and extra reps on things that they need to improve on. That’s what we’ve been focusing on this week and we’ll start working on the plan toward LSU a little bit each day in practice as we go through the rest of the week.”
What kind of season has Gabe Jackson had for you so far?
Mullen: “He’s had a great year for us so far. He’s a guy that’s started every game that he’s been here for us since he was a redshirt freshman. He’s continually improved. He really works as a professional and works at his game constantly improving every aspect. He has a very serious approach to the game of football. He loves it and works at his technique. On top of that, he’s a powerful and talented young man as well.”
Is (Jackson) a lead by example type of guy or a vocal leader?
Mullen: “It’s a little bit more by example but when he talks people definitely listen. I think he’s that type of guy. He’s not a by rah-rah type of guy but when he talks everyone is certainly going to listen.”
When you were at Florida, how much was there a sense that you were coaching Steve Spurrier’s program?
Mullen: “There were a lot of coaches at Florida but I have a lot of respect for Steve Spurrier and still do to this day. I was a big fan of his growing up. But when I was at Florida I was helping coach Urban Meyer’s program that’s for sure.”
Urban reached out to Spurrier while he was at Florida. Did you ever talk to him while you were there?
Mullen: “Absolutely. I think he still had a house in Gainesville at the time and you’d see him out for dinner sometimes. A lot of the former players that came around had played for him and we’d meet out for dinner like Shane Matthews. It was good to be around those guys for dinner and get that opportunity to talk to them.
“The great thing not just as an assistant but even now as a head coach, Steve’s been great to me. He’s always very great to talk to and always very gracious. He’s somebody that’s never afraid to give you some advice and tell you how things are going and what his thoughts are.”
You just played Oklahoma State in a neutral site game to start the season off. What does those games do for your players and do you think it’s a good thing for teams like yours and the rest of the SEC?
Mullen: “Sure, it’s always fun to go play against another great team. It’s always a challenge, especially in this league. I looked and we still have five or six ranked teams still on our schedule. A lot of teams have one, two or maybe even three ranked teams still on their schedule. It’s always a challenge when you go play those games but for our guys it was a great opportunity to go play in an NFL stadium against a top nationally ranked team like Oklahoma State. I thought that was a fun experience for our guys and wish we would’ve played better and won the game that’s for sure. But we’ve certainly improved every single week since that game.”
Do you think with the playoff coming that you’ll see more games like that around the conference?
Mullen: “I’m not sure. I look at a lot of people out there and I’m not sure they play the amount of ranked teams that we do around the conference in the SEC. I don’t know if you’ll see more or less of it. You might see a lot of other conference do it a lot more. I think we had six ranked games already on our schedule before we played that game. That’s a lot more than most teams around the country. I don’t know that you need to play those games with the new deal coming.”
What do you see differently about Zach Mettenberger on film compared to last year?
Mullen: “I haven’t gone on that side of the ball that much. I’ve done a lot more looking at special teams and looking at their defense this year. I know they’ve got an excellent quarterbacks coach. Zach’s played in all the stadiums and has experience. Most of the time when you get guys that are in that part of their career, they’re comfortable in their system. You see them making decisions much faster and better decisions. That’s where you see great improvement at the quarterback position.”
LSU’s defense lost a lot of guys. Do they look as fast to you? What strikes you about them?
Mullen: “They look as big, fast and physical as they always are. I’m trying to figure out who they lost because it looks like they’ve got a lot of talented guys still out there on the field. They’ve got four and five star recruits who are back-ups on their roster right now.
(LSU) is giving up more yards than last year.
Mullen: “You have to look that their offense is putting up a lot more points so they are in game situations where they are way out in front and playing a lot of young players. Early in the season if you play some teams where you get out to a big lead on early, a lot of times you can give up some defensive yards. If it was a close game then you may not give those up.”
Is there a plan for Devon Bell and Evan Sobiesk during the bye week?
Mullen: “Those guys are still working out there. We chart every kick and punt every single day. Those guys know that and like any position on the field, we evaluate throughout the week of practice. At that point we look statistically at who is going to give us the best opportunity in the game from what they’ve done at practice. That’s how we’ve always done things not just at kicker but at punter and just about every position on the team.”