Mullen Focuses on Youth in Friday Scrimmage

While high school football was being played across the state last night, Mississippi State went under the lights at Davis Wade Stadium for the first full scrimmage of preseason camp. We were able to speak with coach Dan Mullen this afternoon about it.

The Bulldogs ran about 150 plays over two hours, with an emphasis on backups and younger players, as Mullen wants to familiarize them with the game day atmosphere as much as possible.

“We got what we wanted accomplished I think,” Mullen said. “It was putting young guys in situations that they’re going to have to get ready to play in the game. There was some positives, negatives of it. There’s some things guys aren’t game-ready, but it was guys that aren’t quite game-ready that are playing 70 reps that when we get to game week are probably going to play only 15 snaps in a game. They have to learn to flip that switch.”

So a lot of the starters had light work, or no work, such as with strong safety Charles Mitchell, who took no reps. Guys like linemen Josh Boyd and Fletcher Cox, along with safety Nickoe Whitley, played only a handful of snaps.

“Nickoe is (a freshman) All-American last year. Charles is the best player on our team. I feel pretty good about how their level of play is going to be next season,” Mullen said.

Mullen and his coaches have already pored over the film, last night and this morning, and he listed some players who jumped out by their strong performances: tailback Robert Elliott, defensive lineman Kaleb Eulls, linebacker Cam Lawrence and slot receiver Jameon Lewis.

Also, Chad Bumphis returned a kickoff for touchdown.

The quarterbacks were not live, but Mullen said that won’t make it hard to evaluate them.

“I’ve done enough (evaluation) of them. Tyler (Russell) has played in games so I don’t have to react how he’s going to get hit. Dylan (Favre) in the spring, we made Dylan live a whole bunch in the spring. I got enough out of that to now we got to be ready to play games.”

Mullen said the second-team offensive line was “very up and down.”

On the injury front, redshirt freshman tailback Nick Griffin is “ahead of schedule” as he recovers from offseason ACL surgery. He’s already doing drills in a helmet and shoulder pads.

“I’m still thinking Oct. 1 is really the clear date for him to start practicing and getting ready to go. We think he’s way ahead of schedule,” Mullen said.

There was plenty more we talked about, but I’ll save some of it for later. In the meantime, enjoy this video clip of Mullen and his dog, Heisman. Sorry it got clipped off at the end.

• If you’ve not heard, MSU is No. 20 in the Associated Press preseason poll, which were released this morning. State is also No. 20 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.