Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen joined the rest of the league’s head coaches on the SEC coaches’ teleconference to talk about the Bulldogs’ upcoming game against Vanderbilt.
Here is a transcript of Mullen’s time on the call…
Mullen: “We came back and had good days of practice on Sunday and Tuesday after taking off on Monday. We’re looking to get back into this challenge. It’s the last home game for our seniors. We have the opportunity to go undefeated at home this year which would only be the second time ever Mississippi State’s gone 7-0 at home. That’d be a pretty special accomplishment for our guys.
“I know there will be a lot of emotions from guys in their last home game who have bought into our program and brought our program to a new level over the last couple of years.”
How much louder is the stadium with the larger capacity?
Mullen: “Obviously enclosing the end zone creates a much better game day environment with the jumbotrons. I think it’s one of the best game day environments in the Southeastern Conference.
“A lot of that isn’t just the stadium expansion but our fans buying in. They buy the tickets and support their team. All our fans there cheering at every home game has helped us build a home field advantage.”
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said he’s been listening to cowbells for 20 minutes a day on his iPod to try and get adjusted. Have you ever heard of that approach?
Mullen: “I’ve never heard of that one before but obviously its interesting. The one thing that has been special this year for us is how our fans have bought into it. Our fans ring cowbells when they’re supposed to ring them and don’t ring them when they’re not supposed to.
“It’s such a great college football tradition that’s really special.”
What would be your advice to Mason in making the transition from a high-profile coordinator to a head coach?
Mullen: “You’ve just got to believe in what you’re doing. You have to believe in what it is and stick to the plan. There’s no quick fix in football. You have a plan, a layout and idea of how you want to run your program. It doesn’t mean you won’t change if you find better ways of doing things but you have to believe in what your plan is and stick to it.
“You have to have the confidence that what you have envisioned for your program is going to result in success in the end.”
What are the responsibilities like going from a coordinator to a head coach?
Mullen: “I don’t think there’s anything that can prepare you to become a head coach and especially in the Southeastern Conference. However you’ve prepared yourself, you’re still going to have on the job learning. You’ll find that you’re much more confident at the end of the year than at the beginning of the year and much more confident in year two.
“This isn’t a job where there’s a lot of learning in preparation for until you get in and learn what it’s all about.”
Do you think Evan Sobiesk’s confidence is finally showing up on the field?
Mullen: “I think so. He’s kicked the ball very confidently. I’ve always told everybody that I see it all the time at practice. Now the team has confidence in him when he goes out there. They always have because they see it at practice too.
“It’s just getting used to getting into a game environment and performing at a high level on game day. No matter what position you play, you have to have that confidence. I think now he has a much different demeanor on game day and a whole lot different confidence when he gets on the field.
“I think that’s really shown in his performance and how he’s been able to kick for us this year.”
How close were you to stopping Blake Sims on those two scrambles on the last Alabama scoring drive?
Mullen: “He’s a great player who’s making plays. We had guys in a position to make plays. Sims did a good job on one of them by making someone miss and getting to the first down marker. On the other he kind of outran everybody to the corner.
“When you’re in those games against top competition and it’s two of the top teams in the country playing, you’re not going to get there by not having your top players make plays. He’s a great player that with the game on the line, that made some special things happen.”
How do you feel about still being the top four despite a loss?
Mullen: “I feel great about it but there’s still so much football still left to be played. There are so many more things that are going to happen throughout the next couple of weeks of the college football season. I want to feel great about being in the final college football poll.”
Your team is ranked No. 2 in game control. What are your thoughts on that?
Mullen: “I don’t know exactly what that is but it’s cool that we’re No. 2 in it. There’s so much football to be played and there are a wide range of people on the committee looking at so many different aspects.
“Sometimes you’re comparing apples to oranges. I think they’re trying to get as much information as they can to to make the best decisions on where teams are. Hopefully our game control ranking goes up through the next two games of the regular season.
“I’d be really pleased with that because game control appears to be when you’re in control of the game. We love to be in control of the game.”
Is there concern not knowing how the committee does their ranking?
Mullen: “I don’t concern myself with what I can’t control. I guess we can control the game and we’ve done a good job of that. Moving forward we need to continue to do that and play well.
“I think everyone is going to learn this year through a whole season how the committee looks at things. No one really has an idea of how they’re going to view things until that final poll comes out.”
How do you feel about two one-loss teams being ranked ahead of an undefeated team?
Mullen: “If they’re better teams then they deserve to be there. I think the committee is trying to look at who the best teams are in the country. That was the idea of having a College Football Playoff to get the best four teams in the country to go play each other in the playoff.
“I think they’re trying to rank the best teams in the country. I think that’s the thing that makes the most sense for the committee. They just need to ask who the best four teams in the country are and get them to go play each other.”
How has your team bounced back this week preparing for Vanderbilt at home?
Mullen: “They’ve done a really good job so far but that has to translate on the field on Saturday. We have some great leadership on this team and some great seniors and upperclassemen who do a good job making sure everybody is focused.
“They’ve handled all of our success throughout the year really well and now we have to see how we handle a defeat and make sure that leadership keeps pushing us in the right direction.”