STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen holds his weekly press conference Monday afternoons in the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex. Free on-demand video of each week's press conference will be posted in the story rotation (main and football pages only) on HailState.com, along with an associated transcript.
Press Conference Transcript - 9/9/13
(Courtesy of David Murray)...
“We’re excited to get into SEC play. Not that the non-conference games aren’t huge, these are the big games though. You get eight conference games a year and that to me is what you’re judged on at the end of the year, how you finish within your conference. So this is going to be a big deal for us, getting into this game.”
“Obviously a great challenge, every year since I’ve been here we’ve started with Auburn as your first conference game. I think that first game really can give you a huge boost; it can be a big knock, too, for you, I mean how it comes out. I don’t think it defines the entire season for you but I think it certainly can give a huge boost and push on your way to having a great conference schedule and a great year. So it’s a huge challenge, obviously it’s a tough place to play, a tough place to go on the road to. But I think our guys are going to be ready to go.”
We should have everybody back healthy, with the exception of the guys that are out for the year. The guy that is questionable still for this weekend would be (Ferlando) Bohanna. But everybody else, talking with our trainers today they expect to be ready to go by game time.”
Did Tyler Russell passed his concussion test? “He hasn’t taken that yet.”
So you’re still waiting on that? “Yeah. But they did some things with him yesterday, and I’d expect him practicing, doing some things today, and we’re going to kind of build him back into it. He doesn’t get any contact in practice and no one is allowed near him anyway at practice. So you can put the red jersey on him and say nobody touch him but he already has the green one on. So nobody gets near him anyway.”
Is he someone who if cleared Friday OK, go play? “Well, we’re always very concerned with player safety. So to me it’s all gonna be safety-related. I think with him, in talking to him and where our trainers are, the fact that he’s able to work out and do stuff; and he’s able to go out and throw it today at practice and do all those things, I think he’ll be ready to play the game if he’s cleared for contact come the end of the week.”
With LaDarius (Perkins) back and all the other running backs, do you like a running back by-committee? “Yeah, I mean you’d love to roll guys through and keep guys fresh, depending. Obviously game dictates how many reps, how many plays you get. And then injuries and health can always dictate it. You look like OK, Perkins comes back and now we have some good depth at running back. We felt that on the offensive line ‘til a guy goes down for the season, and then the depth gets a little bit more shaky. But having those guys, having that depth, and having those guys ready to go you feel comfortable with the depth you have at that position for this game.”
How did Dak Prescott play and would you be confident starting him again Saturday? “I’m very confident with Dak, and our team is very confident with Dak. I think a lot of that is just the leadership role that he has. One thing I always try to do, you don’t prepare a starting quarterback and a backup quarterback; you prepare starting quarterbacks.”
“So Dak prepares to be a starter, we prepare for Dak to be the starter. We have since last year. This time last year we were doing the same thing, because that is one thing you don’t want. You don’t want the team sitting there and not having confidence as a guy steps on the field and comes into a game. And you’re one play away from that happening. So I think Dak really took on that approach and I thought he did a good job preparing himself as a starting quarterback. And I think within his leadership and the way that he does things, the team kind of feels the same way. That hey, you know he’s ready to be a starting quarterback, so it’s not a big deal for us.”
Is Auburn the toughest ‘scout’ in the league with the transition in staff and not getting a traditional look at them? “Yeah, I haven’t since I’ve been here I don’t think. Every year it’s been something new with them. This year we have two games, usually it’s only been one game on them. With a lot of new staffs (there) are turnovers from year to year to get that look. So it certainly does make it difficult.”
“I mean you’re looking at a whole new offensive staff. And one of the hard things, you can say OK, we can look at Arkansas State from last year, Auburn from three or four years ago on offense; we can look at Southern Miss last year and South Carolina from three or four years ago. But that’s not this year’s team for them. I mean that’s what always makes it hard, you want to look at this year’s team because what are they doing with their players? They’re very god coaches over there, they’re going to make sure they’re putting within their system their players in position to make plays. And you don’t have a lot of look at what they are and what they want to be and what their personality as a team is."
Is Auburn doing what they did three years ago? “Yeah, they’re very talented. I mean they’ve got a lot of talent, they’ve got a lot of playmakers. They’ve got three big-time running backs that all can make big plays in the open field. They have dynamic wide receivers that can beat you before and after the catch for big plays. And they have a quarterback that has hit a lot of big throws down the field to keep you honest. But he can improvise on his own and if you don’t account for him he’s going to hurt you. And you have to account for him not just in the run game, but he gets even more dangerous when you get in the pass game and you’re trying to cover all those wideouts and running backs out in the open field. If he gets a seam that’s where he becomes really dangerous running the ball.”
After the first two games do you have a good feel for the team going into SEC season? “We’re getting there. I think we’ve had two totally different style of games in our first two games. So we’ve got to see how this one plays out. I mean game, game-one (we) made some errors, some first-game mistakes. Even then I thought we played pretty well and then had to overcome a lot of different injuries during the course of the game. During game-two we had injuries but we had a lot of success, you know there weren’t a lot of speed bumps for us on Saturday. So I think it will be a good test. I think the team is still kind of developing its personality, of what is this year’s team, their personality. And the guys we’re playing, right now we’ve been playing a lot of players and a lot of new faces. So those guys are just kind of still learning how their role, how they fit in the team in the long-term of the season."