Mullen challenges Bulldogs as they ease into polls

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

After a close call in Troy, Ala., Mississippi State will try find its focus in time for another non-BCS opponent.
South Alabama (1-2) will visit Starkville to highlight this weekend’s local college football action. The Bulldogs (3-0), who entered both the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls Sunday at No. 23, are coming off a 30-24 win at Troy.
Over in Oxford, Ole Miss (2-1) is trying to get back on its feet after suffering a 66-31 loss to Texas. The Rebels travel to New Orleans this week to take on Tulane (0-2).
MSU coach Dan Mullen is eager to get on the practice field today and check the pulse of his team after a mistake-riddled performance.
“I want to see how we come back, how our guys respond,” Mullen said Sunday. “I’ve got to look in their faces when we get out to practice (today) to see the demeanor in which they take it.
“I have a good feeling with a lot of the guys – and it’s going to depend on the leadership – that they’re not going to be very pleased with their performance.”
While determined to fix what went wrong, Mullen is trying to take all the positives he can out of the ugly win.
“It’s great for us to have that learning moment, to be disappointed in our performance and still come out of it with a win,” he said.
MSU will be heavily favored again this week against South Alabama, a program entering its fourth year of existence. USA is a transitional team that will become a full-fledged member of Division I-A next season.
It might be easy for MSU to lose focus again this week and be sloppy. Mullen is expecting his team leaders to not let that happen. He looks at the No. 23 ranking and wants his players to understand that they’re capable of much more.
“I hope it’s a real motivating factor for our guys to go out and turn it around,” Mullen said. “I want us to play our best game we’ve played on Saturday.”
brad.locke@journalinc.com

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