Mullen Previews Final Week of Training Camp

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STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen previewed the final week of the Bulldogs’ preseason training camp Tuesday that culminates with a Friday night scrimmage and Saturday practice.

“This is the most important week for us,” said Mullen. “We have two practices today and two practices Thursday. When you have those double days, you can really get after it with extended walk-throughs and full days of football. Once school starts, you just have a few practices the next week, and then you’re in to game week. Then the season is rolling. Once training camp ends on Saturday night, you’re rolling into that next phase of things.”

The Bulldogs went through their first scrimmage last Friday and participate in another week of training camp before school begins on Monday, Aug. 18. The new SEC Network will spend Thursday evening’s practice at “The Farm” with MSU. Tony Barnhart of the network will broadcast live from the practice and interview both Mullen and quarterback Dak Prescott.

Below are quotes from Mullen’s Tuesday media session:

Head Coach Dan Mullen
August 12, 2014

On his evaluation of the scrimmage and injuries ...

“It was good. It was the first scrimmage so we still have a lot to learn.  It was a hot day of practice today, which is good. We’ve been pretty fortunate with a lot of cloud cover, but I like it when it gets really hot out there. It forces guys to compete and work. 

 “This time of year everyone is starting to get banged up in training camp. [Cedric] Jiles is out with a hamstring injury and will probably be out for a significant amount of time to start the season. Everyone else is battling through all the bumps and bruises.”

 On importance of the last week of practice before classes …

“It’s huge. This is the most important week for us. There is no school going on, so it’s just football.  We have two practices today and two practices Thursday.  When you have those double days you can really get after it with extended walk-throughs and full days of football. Once school starts, you just have a few practices the next week, and then you’re in to game week. Then the season is rolling. Once training camp ends on Saturday night, you’re rolling into that next phase of things.”

On how players have handled the hot conditions …

“We battled pretty good today. It got pretty hot at the end of practice, and that’s what I like.  Hopefully the sun stays out and this afternoon will be a really hot practice. That puts guys in adverse conditions and we get to see how they handle them, because they are going to have to [handle that] during the course of the season. These types of days are designed to see how they can handle that type of adversity.”

On the addition of a nutritionist to the staff …

“I thinks the addition is going to help. She [Kelly White] makes sure we provide the right food for the players, even down to snacks they get after coming off the practice field to make sure they are replenishing their bodies.”

On being able to push the team harder because of the veteran players …

“You can do a lot more.  I told them a great team’s leadership comes from within and not the top down. I put a lot on the leaders of the team and let them know what we’re doing.  I expect them to push the team from within instead of the coaches having to do that from the top down.”

On the urgency of practice to players in terms of the depth chart …

“I think they know that. No one is fighting for a starting job because all that means is we put your name on the jumbotron pregame. I guess that is kind of a cool deal, but they will be fighting for reps. 

“They know a lot of guys are going to play, and when you play a lot of players there are a lot of younger guys who are competing for reps. Every rep they take is one less rep that an older guys gets. They know how they play now is going to determine how much they play during the season.”

On the improvement of field goal kickers …

“They’ve done a good job. We had a field goal kicking competition today and yesterday and they are getting better.  We’re trying to put them in pressure situations.”

On replicating the pressure situations of a game day …

“You can’t replicate it for anyone. There is only one guy kicking field goals for us right now that has any experience of what it is going to be like on a Saturday and that is [Evan] Sobiesk.  There is so much that goes in to it. I think the misses today were more attributed to the snap than anything else.  Every kick that was made was a pretty solid kick.”

On Dezmond Harris suffering an injury his senior year of high school …

“Obviously his senior year didn’t work out the way he wanted, but this is the SEC. This is college football, so to even compare it to high school is completely different. 

“I think that is why a lot of true freshmen are shocked when they get out there. They go from being this super star to seeing that there are a lot of super stars around them. Dez [Harris] played on the scout team last year and had a really good spring and fall camp. I think he has adjusted to the speed.  The emotion and excitement of game day will be a lot of fun for him.”

On the team scrimmaging in the stadium last Friday …

“I thought it was a really good scrimmage, but we want to have a great team. We have to play above where we have ever played before. We’re not looking to be good, we’re looking to be great.  Our level of play in every phase has to be at a whole other level if we are going to win a championship this year. That is what the guys are learning to do.  This is about taking themselves as individual players and as a team to a whole other level.”

On areas that need to be cleaned up before the next scrimmage …

“Everything.  We need a consistency of execution. We put a lot in at training camp. For the older guys it is a little bit easier because they already know what’s going on in terms of the big picture of the offense.

 “For the younger guys there are about three or four game plans worth of material currently in.  They have to process that information and that is huge. They have to learn to process that information and do their job at a high level.”


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