MSU NOTEBOOK: Mississippi State coaching staff a cohesive unit

MSU quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson played for Dan Mullen at Utah in 2004. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

MSU quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson played for Dan Mullen at Utah in 2004. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen lost only one member of his coaching staff in the offseason.

Instead of replacing offensive coordinator/ QB coach Les Koenning with just one person, Mullen divvied the responsibilities among several members of his coaching staff, including himself.

Mullen, who has shared the play-calling duties with Koenning the last five seasons, will continue in that role and while John Hevesy and Billy Gonzales share the load as running game and passing game coordinators respectively.

Former Utah quarterback and offensive coordinator Brian Johnson was brought in to coach the quarterbacks, forming a cohesive coaching unit for the fall.

“We’ve all be in that room together plenty of times as a staff,” Gonzales said. “We’ve got a great staff. There are no egos or hidden agendas. Everybody has a say in what we do.”

The four coaches were all together at Utah in 2004 with Mullen, Hevesy and Gonzales serving on Urban Meyer’s staff there while Johnson was a true freshman QB for the Utes.

“It’s fun but it makes me feel old,” Mullen said. “(Johnson) was a little guy I recruited a couple of years ago and now he’s out there coaching with us. I guess I must be getting old.”

Coaching the QBs

Johnson’s first two days of spring practice have been spent working with three scholarship quarterbacks including rising junior Dak Prescott, who started seven games last season.

Prescott is impressed with what he has seen from his new 27-year old position coach.

“He’s a great coach who’s pushing us,” Prescott said. “He’s really fundamental and I like that. He’s making sure our feet go with our hands and our eyes and is doing a great job with us. We all enjoy him and like him.”

A fourth quarterback, Elijah Staley, is expected to join the mix in the fall. Staley is a 6-foot-6 southpaw from Marietta, Ga., who also plans to play basketball for the Bulldogs.

Juco transition

Mid-year junior college transfer Jocquell Johnson is getting his first taste of practices in the Southeastern Conference.

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound offensive lineman from Copia-Lincoln Community College has spent his first two practices mixing in at left guard on the third team unit.

“He’s a little limited but I expect sometime soon he’ll be fine,” Hevesy said. “He’s a new guy learning a new system. The speed of the game is hard. There’s really no difference with him and a high school kid in terms of (adjusting) to the speed of the game.

“He’s done a great job adapting to the pace of practice and the way we do things. He’s lost about 15-pounds since he’s gotten here. He’s a great kid and is very conscious about what he does so we’ll get him better.”

State will return to practice Friday at 3:15 p.m. and is open to the public.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com