Mullen preps MSU for second scrimmage

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen speaks with the media Thursday evening in advance of the Bulldogs second scrimmage of the fall. Mullen talked about what he hopes to see from the quarterbacks. He also spoke about handing out scholarships to two walk-on linebackers and his impression of Dak Prescott‘s NFL debut.

On this week’s practices…

“They’re still coming along, processing things quicker, and all working on decision making.”

On players’ adjustment to school and practice…

“I think that it is an adjustment because it is a transition. For the guys that’s transitioning, it’s more on their plate. The great thing about training camp is that it’s all ball all the time. Now, it’s balancing class, tutoring, studying, and football while you continue to develop is always an adjustment especially for younger players learning how to handle everything. I haven’t seen many issues, so I think they’re handling the transition pretty well.”

On rewarding scholarships to walk-ons Josiah Phillips and Kelan Chairs…

“That’s a huge deal. If you have the opportunity to give guys scholarships and have things open, scholarships are open. They’re two guys that have worked their tails off for the program and going into year four, take care of their business in the classroom, take care of their business every day at practice, and neither of them have ever been into my office asking, ‘Do I get a scholarship?’ You show up and worked your butts off every day. I think if you show up and work hard every single day, good things are going to happen to you in life, and that’s what we try to teach all of the guys within our program.”

On Josiah Phillips…

“I remember one day in the summer, (his older brother Jonathan Phillips) came up to me and said, ‘Coach I’m really worried about my spot because I won’t be able to make summer workouts.’ I said, ‘It’s no problem. I know you’re a walk-on, you may have a job or something,’ and he goes to say, ‘I have to go to Ranger school,’ and I say, ‘I trust that you’d be in great shape once you get back.’ I was hoping that we were getting someone like him and Josiah has worked and done everything the right way within the program. He may not have the best football knowledge, but he will come out and give you everything that he has. Those two brothers are 100 percent committed to anything that they are doing.”

On Fred Ross…

“I think he’s a worker. I know because he gave a great amount of talent, and I think he’s a great guy for people to look up to. I think he will be very successful throughout his career beyond Mississippi State because of his work ethic. He knows all of the receiver positions. He’s constantly working on his techniques, fundamentals, catching the football and getting better every single day. I think the younger players are looking at him and saying, ‘Well, he’s the most talented guy in the group,’ but he is also the hardest worker of the group. I think that sets a great example for the program in the future.

On quarterbacks relying on Deddrick Thomas, Fred Ross, Gabe Myles, and Donald Gray…

“I think it helps with our depth right now especially getting through camp. Guys getting banged up and being able to move guys from spot to spot. It just helps having a quality player there that’s used to throwing to certain guys out there on the field. We will have a gadget here and there. You still have to install a lot of special situations with offense and defense that will happen during the course of the game. Installation of the offense and defense is done.”

On wrapping up camp…

“Today was really our last day of practice. Tomorrow night, we will have another scrimmage, watch film on Saturday, they’re off on Sunday, and come back Monday. Monday is that transition week, it’s not in season and not like camp, it’s more of a bye week or full prep. When we hit the field on game week, we’re moving.”

On balancing the game plan and running backs…

“We’ll figure it out because we’re not into game plan until another 10 days. Hopefully, we will have a plan as of what it’s going to be. I’d imagine that we will play more than one quarterback in the first game, but that’s no different than what we did last year. For us to get organized after tomorrow night’s scrimmage, we will have that sorted out. Each running back is different. They each bring something different to the table every single day. How they run the ball, speed, size, and skill set is different. I play a bunch of them to utilize the talent of each ‘back. Within the basic offense, they all run the plays a little differently. They get hit with different speed and power, so I think that’s a good change up for us.”

On tight end…

“We are so young this year, so that’s another spot in the program that you look for the best quality of the starter this year. Unfortunately, injuries ended his (Gus Walley) career short, so now it’s a trickledown effect. Now the guys have to get accelerated and get ready to get on the field.”

On Dak Prescott’s preseason game…

“I texted him before the game and he texted me before the game. I texted him after the game, ‘Great job. Get back to work.’ He has to get back to work and work harder. He made some great throws, but it’s going to get harder, have to get different looks, and different things are going to happen. You have to get back to work in order to get better. When I have players get drafted, I just hope they go to a good situation. They go to somewhere where they will get coached, fit the style of the team, and fit into the style of the coaching of the team. I think when you look at that situation, it was fantastic. I was happy for him because I think that was great for his development in his long term future.”

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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