Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen fields questions from reporters following the Bulldogs’ 51-28 victory over N.C. State in the Belk Bowl Wednesday.
“We came out and executed on all three phases. I think that’s the most important thing. We didn’t let the weather bother us or affect us on how we executed on offense, coming up and creating some big plays, creating some turnovers early in the game was huge.
Defensively, I thought we played excellent throughout the night. We gave up a couple of big plays, but I think if you want to see the character of the two programs, to me that battle right there at the end down on the goal line. A lot of younger guys are in the game and both sides are battling until the final whistle. It was a heck of a game. I am really proud of our guys. I am really proud of this team. I know everybody picked us to finish dead last in the SEC this year. They don’t listen to that. We came back.
In 114 years of Mississippi State football, only six teams have won nine games. They’re one of those six. And to do it up until two years ago, there has only been four. To do it with this group, this senior class. To do it in consecutive years is really special. I guess if you count Damien Robinson, he got three of them in there under his belt. He has been here for six years. I’ll tell you what, I am so proud of our team. I am proud of our players and this senior year. I feel like they have really changed what people think Mississippi State football is all about.”
RE: How the offensive line played after being patched together last second
I thought they did a really good job. We talked about, the key was, with guys banged up and moving guys around, to control the line of scrimmage. Cover guys up in the run game, protect the quarterback in the pass game. Especially with the weather, we knew we were going to come out and throw the ball, we weren’t going to ask them, hey you guys just kinda pound away, with the patchwork and all the injuries we have on the offensive line we have a patchwork group up there, but I thought they did a good job of protecting the quarterback and covering people up in the run game and allowing us to execute the offense.
RE: How important it was to get off to a quick start
Its huge, I talk to our guys, especially in a bowl game, you wanna start fast because you haven’t played in a while and all of the sudden you start fast and it’s about getting game ready for the game. Our guys were prepared, I think we did a great job of preparing in practice back in Starkville. We got a great week of practice and preparation here, but the fact that you haven’t played in a while, that game ready of going out there and applying your preparation to going to play the game. We do a great job, first play of the game we get an interception, come out and score right away. We create another turnover, we get a stop, long pass, touchdowns, making big plays and executing clean really gives everybody a lot of confidence for the entire game.