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.
Dan Mullen Press Conference Transcript - 9/16/13
(Courtesy of David Murray)
Opening Statement “It will be a great challenge for us this week with Troy. Last year obviously it was a very, very exciting game against them, coming right down to the wire. And they have a lot of those guys back. Their quarterback is special, college football’s active career passing leader. He's a very explosive player.
"They’ve always been able to put up points and they put up points in a hurry. It will cause a great challenge to us that way. They play really hard on defense. The fact that we played them last year, they’re going to have confidence. The teams are going to know each other, and they’re going to have confidence they’re going to be able to play with us.
"Our guys know the type of challenge that we’re going to be in for in a game of this magnitude. So it should be fun, hopefully get another sellout crowd, create home-field advantage for us. I know last year we went there and they did a great job, had the home-field advantage, handed out all those different noisemaker sticks and all that stuff they had out in the stadium and created a great atmosphere. And I’m sure our fans are hopefully going to give us that homefield advantage and make it difficult on them this week.”
With a young team is it easier to bounce back from a loss like you had, or an older team? “I’m not sure. In every situation it’s going to be different, with just the personalities of the guys. Any time you have a tough loss you’re looking at a play. In my reality it’s never as good and it’s never really as bad.
"If we’d made one play in that game I guess we have all the answers, you know? Or we are jumping up and down and patting ourselves on the back; then you go back and break down the film, evaluate what you did well, what you did wrong, what you have to improve.
"The joy doesn’t last real long when you’re trying to fix all the problems. When you lose, you have no answers and everything seems terrible. Then you watch the film the next day and it’s the same thing, what do we have to fix, what do we have to correct?
"That one play obviously emotionally makes you feel different, but the reality in our daily work and improving the team and become the best team we can be, it’s not as great a swing. But obviously, emotionally for the team we’re going to see how they come out and react at practice today with our guys.
"We’ve got to get back to work. Hopefully they come out with a little chip on their shoulders. To be successful you have to react, you have to respond to that type of loss, with the desire, I mean that desperate desire to get back out there on the field and get back to work and work harder at things. You know, to kind of put that behind you and get going, that’s the type of attitude we need to have today at practice.”
Can you talk about the progression of Joe Morrow? “He’s coming along nicely. He’s still got some work to do. But I’ve seen big strides from him from week one to week two and then week two to week three. But he still has a long way to go to become a go-to wide receiver for us.
The great thing is is you’re seeing those improvements. Not just at practice but you’re seeing those improvements on game day. For a lot of guys it’s much easier to make improvements at practice when you’re in a much more controlled environment. But you’re seeing him transition that into games as well, which is a positive step.”
When Dak Prescott is running do you have to make sure the backs get touches? “That’s the worst thing, you know? We might have to go high-tempo so we run more plays because everybody wants the ball. There are only so many plays. It is something you look at.
A lot of those plays are option plays, and a lot of times the defense is dictating who is getting the ball. I can only look at how they dictated, and whether we made the right reads in the run game. I think most of the time we did. We did miss one or two but I think we’ve made most of the right reads in the run game.
"I don’t know if their plan was thinking hey, if Tyler Russell is playing let’s make sure he’s the one carrying the ball in their defense of the option, or maybe to get a hit on him or knock him back out of the game. It’s always something that you want to look at, that we want to make sure the playmakers touch the ball.
"I think you’ve seen Jameon Lewis has gotten the ball a bunch and been able to do some things with it. (Brandon) Holloway is a dynamic open field player. (LaDarius) Perkins is the guy probably we need to get the ball to a little bit more. But he didn’t practice a whole lot last week coming back from that injury. On the report he’s full-go for today. So you’re going to feel a lot more comfortable having him part of the gameplan.”
Auburn threw for over 300 passing yards, how much of that was allowing them to pass as a great running team or how much was defense? “Well, I think there’s a little bit of variety in there with different things. I think we did a great job. One of our goals going into the game was not let them run the ball, and we accomplished that goal. Unfortunately there's a flip side to that.
"We had around 18 missed tackles which netted about 130 yards of offense for them. And most of that was in the passing game. You know, on quick screens. And even the passing game, give them credit they made some nice throws and some nice down-the-field plays on us.
"I know about 80 yards came when our corner fell down on third-down-and-12, and just went the wrong way in the coverage and fell down on top of it. If you take that 85 yards out of their passing game and the 120 missed tackles out of their passing, it's a different story.
"The perception is we didn’t play great defense. At times I thought we played very, very good defense. I think a lot of those yards came off those quick screens and us missing some tackles. Within our plan that was the most disappointing thing. I think we executed to stop the run, we created some three-and-outs, got off the field on defense. I never thought tempo became a huge factor at any point during the game. But our open field tackling when they had some great athletes, we knew they’re going to spread you out all over the place and try to create one-on-one in the open field. I thought that’s where we lacked defensively this week.”