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: “I thought our guys did a great job with a huge road win last week. It will be an even bigger challenge this week going to (Texas) A&M, another top 15 team on our schedule. It’s another huge road challenge for us.
“It’s always hard to win in the SEC on the road. We’re going to have to come out and play four quarters of great team football in all three phases – offense, defense and kicking – to have a chance to win.”
In what areas do you need the most improvement defensively against Texas A&M’s offense?
Mullen: “I think it’s going to be a very different challenge for us this week. Obviously, facing Aubun last week was a very run oriented team. A lot of people we’ve played so far this year have been very run oriented. This is really the first pass oriented team that we’re going to face.
“We’re going to have to do a good job getting pressure on the quarterback and containing (Kyle Allen) as well. We have to keep him in the pocket because he’s a pretty athletic runner and can make things happen once he breaks containment.
“We have to do a great job tackling in space on the great receivers that they’ve got. They’ve got guys that can beat you on their routes deep down the field or can catch it underneath and make things happen with the ball in their hands. We have to do a great job getting those guys down.”
What kind of challenges does Texas A&M’s secondary present for your passing game?
Mullen: “They are really athletic on the back end. They’ve got a lot of speed back there and a lot of experience. They have guys that have played a lot of football on the back end.
“For us, one of our strengths is the receiver position with the experience that we have there. It should be a pretty good matchup.”
Do you allow your quarterbacks to work with private coaches in the offseason and what have you noticed to be the positives and negatives of that?
Mullen: “I have no problem with them doing it but I really haven’t had many of my guys do that. I think I’m a pretty good quarterback coach. Brian Johnson is an excellent quarterback coach. I think our guys feel they get really good coaching when they’re here and we develop quarterbacks as good as anybody in America. Our guys have kind of always felt that way.
“Not that I am against them going to a private quarterback coach. I don’t know if there are benefits to it or against it to be honest with you. I haven’t viewed it enough.”
You know what Texas A&M coordinator John Chavis likes to do defensively with the ends. What do you have to do to counteract that? Does Dak (Prescott) have to step up quicker? Does he have to throw the ball faster? Do you have to run the ball more? What do you do going against Chavis?
Mullen: “With the ends that he has and the talent they have? Yes, yes and yes to all of those things. What you can’t do is just let them pin their ears back and come after you. You’ve got to be able to run the ball and force them not to just be in a pass rush mode all the time because they’re both really, really athletic.
“You’re going to have to mix it up and move the pocket to protect the quarterback and keep more guys in protection and get the ball out quick. You’ve really got to keep changing it up on them. The last thing you want to do is let those guys get into a pass rush mode all day long knowing that you’re all just drop back pass and they can pin their ears back and go get you.”