Quote Roundup: Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen teleconference

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 11, 2013 

AUBURN, Ala. — Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen took part in the SEC coaches’ teleconference on Wednesday.

Check out a roundup of his quotes below.

Here’s what Mullen had to say in his call with reporters, which lasted a shade over six minutes:

Opening statement:

"It's the first SEC game of the year. Here at Mississippi State, in the whole time I've been here and I think even prior to my time, it's been against Auburn every single year. So I think that adds to a little bit of a rivalry aspect to the game, because I think the first game is so critical to how you start your year off in conference play.

"I know our guys are ready. You get eight opportunities. You play eight SEC games a year. It's exciting for our guys. We've had a good week of practice so far. Coming off of that last game, we've got guys healing up, getting guys back on the field. We're excited to out there and go play."

On whether his team has had to change its offensive signals since since Melvin Smith (who was on the Bulldogs' coaching staff last season) now coaches for Auburn:

"We try to change things up a little bit every year just because of those situations. I know teams aren't supposed to videotape guys signalling, but I don't know that everybody maybe follows that rule, so we're pretty cautious about that stuff. So year to year, we try to change a lot of those signal things up."

On whether Mississippi State's identity has been defined two games into the season:

"The team, we've got a young group of guys. I think our last game, we only dressed five seniors on offense and defense. So I think it's a pretty young team (and that will change) as they come together. It's still developing, that whole overall personality of the team. But I think they are working hard as a group. I've liked their effort. I like the team aspect that everybody brings, which is a pretty unselfish team of guys that are all working together to achieve wins."

On how different Auburn looks now compared to what he saw last season:

"Obviously they're very different schematically. They've got some new faces out there on the field playing a lot as well. And you look at them, they're a young football team. They don't have a lot of seniors on that two-deep (depth chart) on the defensive side of the ball. They do have some more, I think, on offense. But you do see a different team."

On what he's seen from Tre Mason, the Tigers' junior running back:

"He's a very, very explosive player. He's a guy that when he gets in the open field, he's extremely dangerous, because he has such great speed. He's dangerous in the return game as well because of his exceptional speed. He also runs very physical between the tackles, and I think that's what's impressive. Obviously he has that open field special ability, but he brings a physical aspect to his game as well to be able to run between the tackles, which makes him tough to defend.

On what he thinks of the rivalry with Auburn, as well as what it was like to get his first victory in the series last season:

"It was huge. To me, that was one of my top wins since being a head coach. Just because, as we said, every year you start off with them, so it adds that natural rivalry. I've always felt that way wherever I've been about that first conference game, especially because every year, it's Auburn. If it rotates, it's a little different. But every year, when it's the same team in the first conference game, it makes it huge. I think that was a great win for us and for our program last year to get that victory (against Auburn)."

On his impression of Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall:

"When you look at him, you can see that he's developing as a passer. And what I mean by that, you see that he does a great job with their throws. He has talent. He hits open receivers. When guys are open, (he) can create big gains in the pass game. And even through the first two games, you've seen him get more and more comfortable in that drop-back passing game. It obviously makes him very lethal in play-action, because you have to account for him in the run game, and when he gets one-on-one matchups, he's very accurate throwing the ball. And then the danger aspect of him running the ball always makes it tough. Then you see his growth and his development as a drop-back passer gives him every aspect that you would want in a quarterback."

On whether they were able to learn anything from defending Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel last season:

"You better make sure you don't let guys get in the open field. You have to have guys that account for the quarterback. If you don't have guys accounting for the quarterback and he gets in the open field, those guys can hurt you. And it's a big deal also when you have guys like (Manziel) of finishing plays. A normal play, everybody says, 'OK, well you give great effort for four to six seconds.' When you're going to play a really athletic quarterback, that four to six seconds can quickly turn into eight to 12 seconds. So you've got to keep finishing the plays on extended plays with a quarterback that has the ability to create on his own."

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