Monday with Mullen

Dan Mullen addressed the media during his weekly press conference on Monday.  (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Dan Mullen addressed the media during his weekly press conference on Monday. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen fielded questions from the media Monday about the Bulldogs upcoming game against No. 6 Texas A&M.

Here’s a transcript of what Mullen had to say or if you’d rather view the press conference simply click the link here.

Opening Statement…
“We’re excited to get this week going. A lot of exciting things happening around campus. I know with a big matchup, I think, two of top teams in the (SEC) West, and, according to rankings, two of the top teams in the country facing off this week. We’re pretty excited about it. We have SEC Nation coming in broadcasting at 9 a.m. in The Junction so hopefully all of our students and fans are up early coming to show their support for the team.”

“We had a good bye week. We had the opportunity to look at a bunch of things and clean up a bunch of things. Get guys rested, get them away and rested both physically and mentally. Obviously we’re going to need that for this week’s matchup. You look at a team coming in that’s an unbelievable offensive football team. They have weapons everywhere. They have one of the best offensive lines in the country. They have three really good running backs that are all three really good SEC running backs. Their wide outs are mismatches across the board. A lot of people have one or two mismatches. They put four mismatches out there on the field with size and speed at the receiver position and then a quarterback, for a young guy, really understands their system well and makes plays. They play with a lot of confidence as one of the top offenses in the nation. They’re second nationally in scoring, third in total offense so one of the top offenses in the country, and they’ve done that playing two SEC games already.”

“(They are a) much improved defensive team from last year. You watch them, and they are more physical against the run. They do a great job of creating pressure on the outside with pass rushers. They obviously got some skill guys in the perimeter that can lock you down and cover. There’s a reason they’re ranked No. 6 in the country. They’re all-around a really good football team that knows how to win and knows how to find a way to win. We’re going to have to come out and play an excellent game in every phase of the game. We certainly need our crowd support to give us that home-field advantage. This is what it’s about in the SEC. You need every bit of home-field advantage you can get. The fact we get this game at home is a huge plus for us, and we need all our fans there creating that big advantage for us.”

On the pressure of keeping up with A&M’s scoring…
“You’re going to have to manage the game and manage the tempo of the game. You know you’re going to have to score. They’re averaging 51 points per game. If they hit their average, it means we have to score 52. If you hold them just below the average, we’ll have to score 50. Offensively, you know you’re going to have to score points against them if you’re going to beat them.”

On Josh Robinson’s on-field personality…
“He always has a lot of energy. He always brings a positive attitude to everything that he’s doing. As I’ve said, I think he’s matured a lot. It’s great having a positive attitude all the time. He’s really matured himself into taking that positive attitude that he has and the energy that he has and the smile that he always has in his face and trying to mature himself into understanding what it is to be an every-down player and a guy that people can look up to on the team.”

On facing Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin’s offense
“They spread the field. He’s had a lot of good offensive lines, and when he has a good offensive line, for one, that certainly helps, and then they put a lot of weapons out there for the quarterback to get the ball to. By spreading the field they create a lot of one-on-one matchups around the field. Any time you can protect the quarterback, it’s a pretty quarterback-friendly offense, but when you can spread the field and create a bunch of one-on-ones, not have to max protect and protect with your five offensive linemen and give him great protection, it certainly helps a lot.”

On Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill
“He has a great understanding of what they want to do offensively. He really anticipated throws well down the field. That’s one thing you see, when he’s letting the ball go before receivers get in and out of breaks. There’s a lot of that confidence that goes in that. For a guy who before a receiver makes a break let it rip down the field just shows how much he understands their system, and he understands and knows all of their wide receivers. On top of that he can improvise. He can make things happen. He extends plays with his feet and extends them in the pocket to create throws down the field. He’s a very elusive runner on top of that where if you have everybody in coverage he can keep a play alive and all of the sudden he’s running for a first down and moving the chains for them.”

On creating an atmosphere at MSU surrounding top-15 matchups in the SEC West this weekend…
“It’s huge. All of our fans, our student body, our alumni, everybody talks about if we build an unbelievable home atmosphere we can create a winning program, and they’ve done that. You look with our attendance over the last several years, and for our fans and our student body and everybody, we want to give them a team that has an opportunity to compete for a championship. We’re in that position, and we certainly need their help. You’re not going to get it done with just the guys on the field. We went into an extremely hostile environment last weekend. You could tell every time the game, I thought our guys played really well down in Baton Rouge, but every time the game got tight, we could barely communicate at the line of scrimmage, guys weren’t sure what play we were running on offense and it was deafening loud. That picks up their level of play. That’s the atmosphere we want. When people say what’s the hardest to play in in the country, that’s what we want it to be. We’ve got to do our part on the field, but we certainly need everybody in the stands to do their part as well.”

On the offensive line …
“We’re down two starters right now (Dillon Day and Damien Robinson). Everybody always wonders why we rotate players in, why we do all that stuff, and it’s for when these situations occur. When guys that might not have played a whole lot get their number called, and we’ve wanted to make sure that we’ve rotated guys at different positions and that we can put guys out and the field and it’s not going to be guys’ first playing experience. That’s why we rotate a lot of players, when you start facing injuries and other adversities you have to go deal with that guys are ready to go step in and play.”

On veteran leadership getting back into routine of game week…
“We’ll find out today at practice. We gave them a bunch of time off, and I want to see how everybody responds to it today. This is a year where we have two bye weeks so they have opportunities to get really rested throughout the course of the year. I think with the older guys, they understand what they need to do today. I think everyone will come back refreshed with a great attitude and ready to go to work. Obviously coming off a bye week we’re a little ahead of scheduled game planning. You’re a little ahead practice time. You get a little extra practice in this week with how our schedule shapes up. We’ll use that to our advantage, and I want to see how our guys embrace the schedule we’re created for them. Our leadership guys get a lot of say in what our schedule is. I talk to them a lot about things that we do so they get an input on in, and they get ownership in it. Then it’s their responsibility to make sure they follow through that we get done what need to get done.”

On SEC Nation exposure and his former player Tim Tebow coming to Starkville…
“I’m excited to see Tim. He’s probably not. The last time he was here Johnthan Banks had two pick-sixes so I don’t know if he’s too excited to come back to the stadium. I haven’t seen him in a long time so it’s going to be great to see him and get him here. Obviously to have the pregame show here on our network and they’re covering right here on campus is a pretty neat deal. Great opportunity for our student body and our fans to show how much they support our team and for the whole country to see that on national television. That’s a really neat experience and neat deal. Everyone around the country gets to see what Starkville, Mississippi is all about.”

On Texas A&M’s defense allowing big plays…
“I think part of it is teams take shots down the field because you know you have to score to keep up with them. That’s part of it. They are a very aggressive team. A lot of times when you’re an aggressive team you’re going to create some matchups where you get some one-on-one shots. Like anything though, they’re trying to create those. They might give up the big play, but if you try too many of them and they stop too many of those big plays, you’re getting off the field pretty quick on offense, and here comes their offense right back at your trying to wear you down. A little bit of high risk, high reward for them at times. When you do that, you’re going to give up big plays.”

On relationship with Kevin Sumlin…
“I’ve talked to Kevin. We get to spend time together at the Adidas retreat every year. Football wise, it’s kind of tough because we played him at Houston then he moves on to A&M so we’ve always kind of played each other. You’re a little bit reserved with what you’re sharing with each other, not that there’s all kind of secrets within the game of football that way, but I study what they do an awful lot. We’ll watch our offense. We’ll watch what they do every year in the offseason, not just when you’re playing them, but really do a study of what their offense is, what things they’re doing and what they’re doing well and things we can kind of steal from them. I would guess that’s a great form of flattery to them that we’re trying to steal all their ideas and what they’re doing offensively, what they do well. I think he’s done an amazing job with the program he has there.”

On controlling time of possession …
“One, you try to make sure you can control the tempo of the game how you want it to be run. We’ll do that, and I know they will want to run a lot of plays. There’s a good chance we’re going to get more plays than any other game so far this year. That’s just probably a stat of playing an up-tempo team that’s going to try to go really fast. We’re not going to really change. We’ve had some success this year offensively so far in putting up yards and putting up points. We’re going to try to stick to what worked for us more than try to change towards Texas A&M.”

On characteristics of quarterbacks coached by Kevin Sumlin…
“One, very accurate passers. Great decision makers. They make good, quick decisions, get the ball out of their hands quick and are very accurate in their throws. What they’ll do is they’ve got to be accurate  because they’ll beat you underneath, and they’ll beat you some quick screens to kind of lure you in, and then they’re going to take shots down the field. When they do take those shots and hit those shots, that’s when they become really an explosive team. The quarterbacks do a great job of putting the ball to guys. They have a lot of skilled athletes, so getting the ball to a guy in the open field where he can go do something with it and create that one-on-one matchup underneath forcing you to come up, and then take the shots over the top down the field.”

On offensive lineman Justin Senior
“The trainers told me he should be back today. We’ll see if he’ll be full-go today. Even if he’s limited today and full-day tomorrow, I told them if he’s good to go today, let’s go today, or get me the schedule for the week, but they expect him to be 100 percent come Saturday.”

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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