Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen joined the SEC coaches’ teleconference on Wednesday in preparation for the Bulldogs showdown with top-ranked Alabama.
Here is a transcript of the call.
Mullen: “It’s a great opportunity for our team. I think it’s the second or third time we have been able to play the No. 1 team since I’ve been here. You don’t those opportunities often. For our guys to be able to do it, it’s really exciting for us. Only nine teams have had that opportunity this year. It’s a great chance for our guys.
“We’ve had a good week of practice. We’ll be able to do it at home in front of our crowd, which will hopefully be another great, sellout crowd. It’s an exciting atmosphere and a great Saturday night of football here in Mississippi.”
What is Dak Prescott’s status for this week?
Mullen: “Dak’s coming along. We’ll see. They said he might try to do some things at practice today, but we will are going to have to see how he just keeps going throughout the week if he’ll be ready for Saturday.
Talk about the development of De’Runnya Wilson and his role moving forward.
Mullen: “I’m really happy with De’Runnya. I know he was Mr. Basketball in Alabama last year but when he came in here you could see some the raw talent that he had as a football player. It takes a lot of guys time to develop but he’s come in here with such a great work ethic. If you combine that with us losing all the wideouts that we had there was an opportunity for him. Right from day one he started making plays during training camp. His work ethic, demeanor and toughness helped him gain a spot on the field. I’ve seen him make great improvements throughout the season and hopefully we continue to see that as he learns the game and learns how to be an SEC wide receiver.”
How big of a surprise has Prescott been this year?
Mullen: “He’s a tremendous worker. There really was no surprise to us. You could see it all during training camp. We felt pretty good about both our quarterbacks coming out of training camp. Tyler Russell with the starting experience, played a lot of football here, continued to grow and do a lot of good things. Dak developing from being a guy that came in as a redshirt freshman last year, running a couple of plays in a small package, to being a guy that was understanding the quarterback position and everything that was asked of him. We saw that coming along. Now he has had the opportunity to go out on the field because of injuries. He’s had the opportunity this season to go out and show everybody else what type of player he can be.
“He’s a tough, physical player. He’s a good runner, he’s not the fastest guy in the world, but he is a good runner with the football. He has size and he’s a physical player. He’s a good decision maker and I think there’s an awful lot to that. When to hang in the pocket to make a throw, when to start scrambling around to try to improvise and then a good decision maker whether it’s a zone read or any of those other plays that we’re running. Making the right decisions and finishing the play.”
What have you seen from O.J. Howard as a freshman tight end on tape?
Mullen: “There’s a wow factor when he caught a slant last week and ran away from all those LSU DB’s. When you look at tight ends, he’s got that athletic ability. You want to create mismatches with athletes and obviously with his athleticism and receiving skills, he can create that mistmatch.”
What does it say about Dak with how he played last week with everything he’s dealing with?
Mullen: “It says a lot about him and it says a lot about him and it says a lot about how he was raised by his mom. I think she knew him being his best in whatever he was to do was very important. He wanted to make sure that he got out on the field and was able to do that. It continues to be a very difficult situation for him. This is something that’s going to be a huge deal for him. People look at it as a short term thing but this is something that’s a huge deal for him.
“This week’s he’s dealing with being banged up a little bit and not having someone to turn to. In two weeks there’s the Thanksgiving holiday and he doesn’t have a mom to go home to. It will continue to be a tough situation but how she raised him and the type of character that he has allows him to deal with it all, have success and will continue to have success in the future.”