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Transcript: Dan Mullen On SEC Spring Media Teleconference

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Photo Courtesy of Mansel Guerry

Coach Dan Mullen spoke with reporters on the SEC Spring Media teleconference Tuesday morning. 

Opening Comment…
“It was a really good spring for us. We have a young football team with only 11 seniors on the roster next year so a great opportunity for young players to get a lot of reps, to gain experience for our guys out there on the field, and to start to build the foundation of what will be our 2013 football season.

“I was pleased with some of the play of our young linebackers with Richie Brown and (Zach) Jackson stepping up. They add to a crew with (Benardrick) McKinney that played last year: (Deontae) Skinner, (Matthew) Wells, (Ferlando) Bohanna, (Jay) Hughes. They really added some good depth right there for us. I’m also excited with the young secondary players. You look at (Jamerson) Love, (Justin) Cox, (Cedric) Jiles, (Will) Redmond; those guys really showed some athletic ability, showed some talent, showed that they have the potential to do a lot of good things for us. Our key is to really accelerate them and get them SEC-ready by the fall. I think they showed they have the ability to do it now. We have to get them the maturity and the experience ready for this fall.”

On quarterback Dak Prescott’s recovery from an injury…
“He should be cleared full go, they said, by the beginning of July so he will have a whole month of being fully cleared before we start training camp so we expect everything is on progress with him and on schedule.”

On quarterback Tyler Russell’s experience…
“It’s huge. I think there is a lot of experienced quarterbacks coming back this year in the league. I think that’s great for our whole league but as far as Tyler goes, a fifth year senior, he is a guy that has experience on the field, has played in just about every stadium that we’re going to have to play in this year. On the road, he understands the pressures and expectations of being a Southeastern Conference quarterback. That is just the periphery. He knows our offense inside and out, understands why we’re trying to do things and his input whether it be game planning, his input on checks, his input on decision making overall is huge because of that experience he has and because of the understanding and grasp of our offense. We expect him to have a huge year this year.”

On comparisons between this season and his first season at Mississippi State…
“I don’t think with the first year, everything was new for everybody. It is not comparable to that because that was a year one deal where everyone is trying to figure out your expectations within the program. I think our guys understand the expectations. When you have a small senior class, your seniors are the guys that are desperate. They know this is the end for them and they lead and everything they do is with that career winding down. I sometimes think the younger guys sometimes think ‘I have more time’ so they are not quite as desperate there on the field. That motivating factor is getting everybody to play as if they are seniors is a key component. Unlike the first year, our guys understand the program. They understand our expectations. We as a coaching staff have to do a great job of making sure everybody plays with the desperate mindset that this is the most important year, this is the year that matters.”

On how last season ending and effects it had during spring practices…
“This is the first year we hadn’t won our last game of the season. I do think with a lot of guys here, it is a motivating factor for them coming into spring. They are not pleased with how the last year ended. Sometimes it will put a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. They got a little more ‘umph’ to them out there on the field because they kind of have that chip on their shoulder with how last year ended.”

On the depth at the tackle position…
“That’s a strong point. You’re looking at three guys with experience coming back for us at that position from last year and only one of them is a senior so that is a real positive for us as we move forward in the program. I see those guys all getting comfortable. We have potentially three starting tackles, which is a good position to be in going into the season. Not just that there is a competition, that we could see some rotation of guys there as well just to make sure everybody is getting the playing time they deserve.”

On familiarity among the team and coaching staff…
“There are a lot of guys that have been together for a while, they understand what we’re doing and I think they’re playing with a little bit more confidence which certainly is a big plus.”

On the raised expectations for the Mississippi State football program…
“I think what we have created here is a level of stability and high expectations. When I first got here, the expectations were ‘I hope we go to a bowl game.’ Now that has become the norm for us when you build that foundation up. I believe to win a championship you have to have a solid foundation. It is not just going to come from nowhere. You have that solid foundation built and those are steps toward us progressing to win a championship. When you win consistently, the next step for us is to compete for a championship consistently. When you start to do that, you find that you win a championship. That to me is the progress we have built in the program, the expectations that I have of our program and those expectations have really spread to our fan base. It has really spread outside of the program. Inside the program, we have really high expectations but outside as well.”


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