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: “It’s a big game for our team. Obviously, it’s the first SEC game of the season. Anytime you get into conference play it’s critical to go out there and get a win. It kind of jump starts your conference season and where you’re at. You want to get that first conference win and start out on a positive note.
“We’ve had a good week of practice to this point. We’ll see. We’ve got a couple more days of preparation to get ourselves ready to go play a very good South Carolina team.”
What’s it like having coached Dak Prescott as he prepares for his first game in the NFL this weekend?
Mullen: “It’s exciting I know for him. I haven’t talked to him this week. I’m sure I’ll text him before the game. But I’m really excited for him and that opportunity. I know he’s going to prepare to the utmost of his ability to give his team everything he has.”
How do you think Prescott will transition from the spread to the NFL style?
Mullen: “I’m not sure because like he said, we basically run the same offense they’re running. We just use different names. Just managing the game and making good decisions with the speed of the defenses he’s going to have to play.”
As an offensive coach when you start tweaking things within a season around the strengths of your running backs and quarterbacks, about how long does that generally take to get that identity established?
Mullen: “Every year it’s very different and every year it’s something you have to adapt to that specific team. One year it was game six or seven my first year as the coordinator at Florida. By game six, we really tweaked and changed a lot going into that during our bye week.
“But every team is very unique. To find the strengths of your team, the one thing you don’t want to do is panic too quickly. You have to trust in what your evaluation of the thing is and if it’s not forming the way that you want it to form as the season goes on you have to look and try to make changes to put guys in better positions to make plays.”
What attributes does Prescott have that will make this transition to the NFL easier and be successful?
Mullen: “He’s a guy that went through five years of college. He didn’t leave early to go to the NFL. He stayed and developed in college. He had highs and he had lows in college. He was able to grow and mature. One of the things during his time here at Mississippi State things were good and bad.
“You’re only as good as your last play and as good as your last game, that’s all. If the last plays in the last game that you played were really good then you’re going to be really praised. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be any good the next week. If the last game that you played was poor, then you’re going to take a lot of the blame but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to play well the next week.
“His understanding of that and being able to cope with the outside attention and being able to focus on doing his job and helping that team win football games, when you grasp and understand that you have an opportunity to be successful. You don’t hear too much of the buzz – good or bad. He’s going to be able to keep his head on straight and improving to the next play, to the next week to the next game.”
Saturday was your first game without Prescott, how much did you miss him after having him for so long?
Mullen: “He’d been here for 5 ½ years. But we’ve had a lot of guys that you miss throughout the years. One of the things he always brought was such leadership. When you have a guy that’s such an alpha dog, strong leader guys try to step up and look for that leadership.
“If you have a lot of leaders on your team sometimes it’s easier. But when you have one guy that was so strong, guys look around and that guy is missing that everybody counted on to pick everybody up.”
Now that Jeffery Simmons has served his one-game suspension, what’s your plans for him on Saturday?
Mullen: “We’ll see what happens Saturday. We’ll see how the week of practice goes and we’ll make that decision come game time.”
How confident are you that the one-game suspension will serve the purpose that you hoped, that Simmons has learned a lesson and has earned the privilege to play college football?
Mullen: “I don’t know. I wasn’t involved in any of the suspension talks. Since he’s been on campus, he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and has been a great teammate. In all the things we’ve asked him to do, he’s done to the best of his ability.”