STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen appeared on Wednesday's SEC football coaches teleconference call with the media, highlighting the Troy game, the performance of the defensive line in 2012 and more. To view the transcript, read below.
Could you take a minute to talk about your team as you enter the Troy game?
Mullen: "This is our first road game, so we have to make that adjustment and get our guys ready for the road game schedule. I know that Troy has had big home wins against BCS schools in the past, so those guys know how to play and win games at home. We're expecting a hostile environment when we get in there. They're a very explosive team, and we're going to have to come out and play very well on both sides of the ball to deal with that adversity of being on the road for the first time this year."
We've only had two games, but so far you have been able to rotate the defensive line pretty frequently. Have you been happy with how they've performed so far?
Mullen: "Yes, I am. Obviously we've got a lot of improving to do with those younger guys, but it is great that they've gotten experience on the field and had the opportunity to grow and improve. As you go through a season, especially in the SEC, you have to be deep, and you have to be able to rotate that defensive line in and out. That, to me, is where you can win a lot of football games. If you can control the line of scrimmage, you are going to win a lot of football games. We need these young guys to improve so that we can substitute fresh guys for all four quarters of the game."
How close is MSU to finding their identity as a team?
Mullen: "I do not know that we are there yet, but I do think that we are getting closer. We want to be a balanced team; we want to be able to mix things up. As a team we want to be able to pass the ball and execute clean. The personality that I have really desired for this team to have is starting to come out, and I want to see how that carries into this week. We will see if we have the confidence to go on the road and continue to execute and play our game like we have been able to do at home."
How familiar are you Troy receiver, Chip Reeves, and do you think that is whom Banks will cover the most throughout the game?
Mullen: "We have not really sat and worked on that. Because of the corners that we have and the confidence we have in Darius Slay, I do not think we are to the point where we have to match up one corner play for one guy. We do not want the confusion of guys running all over the field just to be matched up with a certain person."
Talk about how nice it was to have that first career win over Auburn.
Mullen: "It is nice to check that one off of the bucket list, but more importantly, it is great for our team and what we are trying to build. Our goal is to compete for and win the SEC championship. For my first three years, after week one we have had to crawl our way out of a hole, and it is a great feeling to be on the other side of that after your first conference game."
What are the current strengths for the Troy defense?
Mullen: "Their strength is definitely their safeties. They have some aggressive, play-making safeties. Troy has a young team on that side of the ball, and with a young team you can sometimes see drastic improvement early in the season as those young guys grow. I think we are going to see the best defensive game they have played, especially if they take that experience to the safety position."
How will you keep your team grounded after this big conference win?
Mullen: "We discuss as a team how winning a conference game early in the season is a big boost for us, but what we must do as a team is improve every week. We have to execute better, play harder, and prepare better in practice because you are going to perform how you practice. If you take your foot off of the gas at all during the season, you slow your progress. If you want to be successful as a team, you are continually teaching and improving so that when you get into November, you are playing your best football. That is where we want to be as a football team, and that has been the message to our guys. I am sure they are in class now getting patted on the back for the great win last year, but it is Wednesday and we are well into another game and that win is long gone now."