This week’s game: MSU (5-5, 1-5 SEC) at No. 8 Arkansas (9-1, 5-1), Saturday, 2:30 p.m., CBS
There were several burning questions for MSU coach Dan Mullen today on his teleconference, and he did nothing to extinguish them. I don’t know what to do besides just bullet-point these babies. I imagine the cumulative effect will be more blandness than you’ll want to have on a Sunday, so my apologies, but here we go.
• How are quarterback Chris Relf (concussion) and safety Nickoe Whitley (leg) doing? Well, neither has gone in to the training room yet, so Mullen really couldn’t give us an update there.
• But I asked about whether Relf, if healthy, will remain in the quarterback rotation for Saturday’s game. He started and was ineffective against Alabama, going 0 of 2 passing and rushing for minus-3 yards on three carries. He didn’t play in the second half due to the concussion, according to Mullen.
“We’ll see how practice goes this week. Like we said, we always judge it off of practice and rotate kind of according to how they practice.”
• Will linebacker Brandon Maye, who was suspended for the Alabama game, be available this week or be suspended further? “We’ll decide that this week.”
• Will left tackle James Carmon, who was pulled in the half after committing three false-start penalties, start this week?
“We’ll see at practice right there. He had three false start penalties, silly false start penalties the first half. We’ll judge this week in practice to see how he rebounds from that game. If he comes back, has a great week of practice, has great focus, he’ll be back in the rotation.”
• Derek DePasquale and Brian Egan both missed a field goal Saturday, so will Mullen decide during warmups before Arkansas who starts? (This was Mullen’s best quote of his nearly 10-minute talk, by far.)
“We’ll evaluate practice. I’m very disappointed with our kickers. Very, very disappointed with our kickers, at what they’ve done. We don’t have free agency in college, so I can’t cut them and go hire a free agent. We’ve got to do a better job of getting them coached up and getting them straight for this week.”
• After preparing for a run-heavy Alabama team, MSU must now get ready for a pass-happy Arkansas squad. Quite the challenge, eh, Dan?
“We’ll see. We’ll get a plan together this week. They’re another top-10 team nationally. And they’ve built their program. They’ve done a good job over the last couple of years to get their program built where they want to be. It’ll be a challenge for us. Every week in this league, every team in this league brings a different challenge. You’ve got to get ready for them.”
• Has this season fallen short of expectations?
“It’s been two plays. We need to make one more play to beat Auburn, and one more play to beat South Carolina, and all of a sudden we’ve exceeded expectations. … I don’t know that we haven’t met expectations this year, it’s just the margin for error is very, very small in the Southeastern Conference. We’ve missed it by two plays.”
• On Arkansas’ success under Bobby Petrino: “They only have one school in their state, so they get to lock up recruiting pretty quickly at home. That is always a big key. You have to be successful recruiting your in-state players to get this program built to where you need to get it built. They’ve done a good job of it over the last couple years. They’re probably a year or two ahead of us, where want to get our program.”