Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen joined the rest of the league coaches on the SEC Teleconference on Wednesday.
Here is a transcript of Mullen’s time on the call:
Mullen: “Anytime you’re playing the first conference game is a huge, huge game because it’s either going to put you in first place in the SEC West or you’re going to have to claw your way back up the rest of the season. That first conference game is so critical for us to play it so early in Game 2 of the season. It’s huge with it being our home opener, that makes it such a big, big game for us.
“Hopefully a lot of our guys learned in a tough, adverse situation playing on the road in a tough environment last week against an in-state rival in a sold out stadium. We had a lot of young guys get on the field for the first time. We want to see that great improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 out of those young guys now that they have a little bit of experience. We need to see that to go play a great team like LSU.”
Is it an issue not being able to see game film on Brandon Harris or do you have enough from last year to be able to prepare for him?
Mullen: “It’s always a challenge but it’s not just him, it’s their whole team. Every year you have a brand new team. Even though there are some players that are carryovers that were on the team last year that you know are on the team this year, every year each team is unique. You haven’t gotten to see the personality of this team with Brandon Harris in their offense and how they are going to utilize him in their offense and what changes they’ve made to their offense this year.
“They have a whole new defensive staff and a whole new defense. In some ways of preparation you’re preparing like it’s the opening game of the season where you’ve got to focus on yourself and have to execute at a very high rate because you don’t know what the other team is going to do.”
After watching him last week, did Rufus Warren get better as that game progressed?
Mullen: “That was the first start of his career and I think getting out on the field in a game situation, I think a lot of them improved throughout the course of the game. We have to see a huge improvement this week because now they are used to game situations, in-game adjustments, talking on the sidelines and playing.
“In practice if you have a bad play, you can do it over. You just bring the ball back and go again. Most of those guys were backups last year and were not always in during the most meaningful times of the game. Right now you’re in a meaningful time and you’re the guy who has to make the plays.
“Rufus got that experience and improved as the game went on. I thought from start to finish all three new starters handled the situation. We can play a lot better but I think they handled the situation very well.”
Is it an advantage for you to play a game or is it a bigger advantage for LSU for you not to have any game tape on?
Mullen: “I think it’s a push. It depends on what part of it you’re talking about. There are advantages for them because we don’t get to see what they’re doing this year. They have a new defensive staff and new defensive players and we don’t get to see them on film.
There are a lot of new guys on offense. I think we saw four or five plays from their game last week and there are a lot of new faces on the offense and you don’t get to see that. So I think that’s a big advantage for them.
“I think that we have a big advantage that all of our new players that are playing for the first time got the opportunity to go out and play on the road and get a game under their belt and hopefully shake off some of those first game jitters. I think there are advantages and disadvantages for both sides in this type of situation.”
What are you expecting from Brandon Harris?
Mullen: “He’s a different guy. He was a very young guy last year. Even though (the Auburn game) was the only game he started, he played a bunch during the year. He’ll be a much, much different quarterback this year than we saw in that game.
“We saw him. He came into the fourth quarter against us. I know he didn’t start the game but he was lighting it up and making throws all over the field. We know he is a very, very talented player with obviously another whole year of development. You haven’t seen it but I imagine he’ll be more improved from where he was last year.”
What are you expecting from Saturday night?
Mullen: “I expect a great environment. We changed the environment when we came here to Mississippi State. A part of what makes this league great is the home field advantage. We want to make sure we have as great a home field advantage as any team in this league.
“Our fans bought into that. We have a loud stadium with our expansion. We expect a huge, sold out crowd of student body going crazy and a wild scene here on Saturday night.”