Mullen looks at big picture

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State has lost three consecutive games and is out of the polls, but head coach Dan Mullen is taking a larger view of things.
The Bulldogs (7-3, 3-3 SEC) will try to snap their skid when they host Arkansas on Saturday (11:21 a.m., SEC Network).
“I kind of always get back to the bigger picture of things a lot with the guys and on the team and bring down why each thing happened,” Mullen said Monday. “If we had started 1-3 and won six in a row, or started 7-0 and lost three in a row, how does it all break down? I think none of that really has an effect.”
MSU’s last three-game losing streak was in 2010. State has been so-so in bouncing back under Mullen, with a 10-9 record in games after a loss.
It should help that the Bulldogs aren’t facing a ranked team this week. Mullen is 2-16 versus top-25 teams.
Smith’s schedule
While MSU is still playing it safe with right guard Tobias Smith, there’s nothing wrong with him. Smith, who suffered a knee injury early last season, has started the last three games and six total.
“Tobias is still on his Jimmy Buffett schedule: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays,” Mullen said of Smith’s practice schedule.
He added that Smith’s knee is “fine,” and he is expected to play this week.
Backup middle linebacker Ferlando Bohanna is questionable with a groin strain. The sophomore has 25 tackles and two fumble recoveries.
Mullen ready for Rebs
MSU and Ole Miss will tangle at 6 p.m. next weekend in the annual Egg Bowl. Mullen said a night kickoff makes travel easier – the team will go to Oxford the day of the game. Otherwise, game time matters not.
“I’ll play them at 9 o’clock in the morning out in the parking lot. I’m good,” he said.
Mullen is 3-0 against the Rebels, who are currently 5-5. Unless it upsets LSU this week, Ole Miss will need to beat MSU to gain bowl eligibility.
That should add some extra flavor to the Egg Bowl.
“Probably for them. It won’t add anything more to me. It already is pretty important to us,” Mullen said.
Bell to be recognized
Former MSU player Nick Bell would be a senior this season, and he will be recognized with the other seniors on Saturday prior to the Arkansas game, which is State’s final home game of the season.
Bell was a defensive end who died of skin cancer in November of 2010.
His mother, Linda, will be on hand Saturday.
“It’s something that I don’t think any of our players will ever forget, anybody in our program will ever forget,” Mullen said. “Really the most difficult thing I’ve had to go through as the head coach.”
brad.locke@journalinc.com