Dan Mullen Monday Press Conference
This story originally published on GenesPage.com

Editor-Dawgs' Bite
Posted Sep 10, 2012


“We’re very excited coming off last week’s game. I’m pretty happy we stayed relatively injury-free, no real new injuries this week to report, everybody should be good to go. Oh, Brandon Hill will be doubtful this week, he has an ankle sprain. Xavier Grindle tore his ACL, he’ll be out for the year. Malcolm Johnson remains doubtful for this week. Everybody else is probable.”

“Obviously a great win, a great way to start conference play. I liked when our guys came in this morning to watch film, we’ve got practice later this afternoon. And we’ve got to see how they respond to this right now. This is new territory for our guys, they haven’t been in this position. At this point of the season we’re always trying to come back and say OK, this is what we have to build on and now we’ve got to deal with a little bit of adversity. Instead of success, with your first road game.”

“It’s a tough place to play. Obviously they’ve had a lot of success with their team. A very, very explosive offense. I think they’re averaging almost 560 yards or something like that a game, just put up gaudy on offense, a lot of points. Their quarterback is very experienced, can throw the ball, make all the throws, he understands their system. They spread it around to a lot of different receivers. They have one back who has put up a ton of yards but they have two really explosive backs. So obviously our defense is going to have their hands full, with a very, very, very tough challenge.”

“On the other side of the ball they’ve had great athletes. I think they’ve got a little bit younger team this year it looks like on the other side of the ball. But they do have experience at the back end with their safeties. And when you play that type of an explosive offense you’re going to have to manage and control the tempo of the game with our offense. Our offense is going to need to get first downs, control the ball, control the tempo. Because they’re going to try to run as many plays and wear you out on defense. We want to be able to give those guys on the offensive side of the ball.”

“But we’re excited, can’t wait to get down there. I know our guys are. I like being in it, I like our leadership of where we’re at. And we’ll see, this is an important role for leadership for guys on our team, this week is really important.”

How do you want your guys to handle coming off a big success?
“Fortunately we do have a little bit of experience in it. I told our guys first thing this morning, what’s going to happen when you go to class today? I said people are going to be patting you on the back, when’s the last time that happened? It was after beating Michigan, and we had a lackluster spring. So I think some of our older guys understand that those pats in the back can turn into kicks in the rear end real quick, they can lower a little bit in their aiming point! They have to really share that with the younger guys on our who might be going through it for the first time. You can all of a sudden lose a little bit of focus, people are telling you hey that was such a great win. And here we are on Monday, it’s Monday of game week, our full-padded work day. And if you’re still smiling about Saturday’s game and what a big win it is you can loose a little bit of today’s work day. And you can’t afford to lose a work day in-season because the games come on you so fast.”

What have you seen from rotating Tobias Smith and Justin Malone?
“I think it’s good. I was really happy in how it worked. Justin got that experience on the field. I mean, the first game you could see he wasn’t very good, not that he didn’t have the talent, you could just see the pressure of that situation was getting to him. As soon as he made one mistake he was ready to make another one because he was kind of freaked-out from making the first one. I saw him play much calmer this week, with a lot more confidence out there on the field which is something that we need. The fact that he continues to grow will allow to continue the rotation. I know you love to have that continuity on the o-line, you’d love those guys to play. But I also don’t mind repping guys through every once in a while and staying fresh. Especially for guys that earn that playing time. I’ve been on teams where sometimes if you have a really good team, you look at some programs that are really good for years, they get big wins and they get guys in the game because they’re up big. We haven’t done that, but if you can get guys in the game and they’re getting meaningful reps when the game is going on you don’t have to be up big to get these guys experience and it can develop their future.”

Has this helped Tobias stay healthy the first two games, as he did rotation with Gabe Jackson in 2010?
“For Tobias, he also knows where his limitations are right now and you’re talking about really coming back from that type of injury to perform that he did in that game is, to me, pretty amazing. With the confidence, I think that’s the foundation of potentially a great year for him because I think he's coming out of that game now with a lot of confidence in his health and where his knee is. That will certainly help him as it goes on. Knowing that I’ve got a guy who can come step in for me and I don’t have to go 70-80 reps in a game, I can take a breather every other series or something like that and stay healthy.”

Tyler Russell was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week, first State quarterback since 1991…
“Sweet. Who was it in 1991? Nice, good for Sleepy.”

“It means he played really well on Saturday and did a good job and led us to a big victory. That obviously helps with the big win we had and the big win we had to get that honor. I think it’s a great honor but I think that’s the evolution of Tyler Russell. A couple years ago, when he came here, that's what’s been expected out of him. You’re in such a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately society in the world we live in that they kind of forget that’s what was expected out of him. But he, as most guys do, he’s developed, matured and grown into that position. Now he is ready to perform at the level everybody expected him to be at.”

Troy threw the ball 70 times Saturday after rushing the ball against UAB, do you expect a more balanced game?
“It might be a late night. I told Hevesy we might come out and throw it too and be out there until 3 o’clock in the morning!”

“A lot of times stats can get that way. You look last week, two weeks ago they ran the ball a ton and won the game. Last week they were behind and threw it a ton. It shows that they can do both. Again, you find the different personalities in teams.”

"I don’t think we have seen exactly what their personality is yet. I think ours is growing within our team but with theirs, the two different games that they’ve been in, you’re going to have to see coming into this game what direction they’re heading in and really the game can dictate a lot of that as well as the game progresses.”

How has Corey Broomfield’s play at safety helped?
“One, it allows us, we feel, to get our best players on the field at all times. And I think his knowledge of the game--he’s a very savvy player--allows you to do that. Physically, he’s not your prototypical safety. And here he is a senior who hasn't really played that position before but he understands the game very well, he understands the position very well, he knows how to get himself in the right spot and he’s able to make some plays for us. He finds his way around the football, is a good tackler and I think the great thing there is I think safety gives him a little more flexibility and he really sees things well. He can see how the play is going to develop, what’s going to happen with this play and put himself in position to make plays. I see him continuing to improve, continuing to progress in that position and I think it does give us a pretty solid secondary.”

How has Tyler Russell’s decision-making developed?
“He understands when he wants to take a chance and when he doesn’t. I think in the evolution, when you understand the offense, you can spend a lot of time asking the question, ‘Why? What did you see, why did you do this?’ and expect a very intelligent answer. He threw a pass to Jameon Lewis over the middle that we watched it on film today, I said, ‘You’re not making a living on making that throw all year long.’ He said, ‘No, I stepped up, and as I stepped up I saw the window, and I knew it was going to be a tight window. I felt the safety was really deep, I took a shot to fire it in there.’ He could explain exactly what happened and understand what happened, and when you have that confidence, he’s going to make more plays. He also understands when he’s taking a chance, and when he's not taking chances. The chances he takes are very educated chances of why he’s going to do it, and that prevents and hopefully continues to prevent turnovers.”

Does Russell have any special chemistry with Marcus Green and Chad Bumphis?
“I think it is with all the guys. I guess that’s what it is, that touchdown passes have gone to those two. It just shows his confidence, but when you look at the statistics of how we spread the ball around amongst the receivers, those are the guys that are kind of finishing off the drives right now.”

“I do think he has confidence in a lot of those guys. When he has that confidence, one thing that really does help--even though those guys have the touchdowns--when you watch him, he’s not homing in for a receiver, he’s not looking for a receiver. He’s looking at what the defense is giving him and taking what they give him, and it allows you to execute. He has confidence in those guys, all those guys, that it doesn’t matter who is there I’m trusting the read, and I know you’re going to be where you’re supposed to be and make the catch. That’s where you want to be as an offense.”

How are you preparing for the first road game in a hostile environment?
“We’ll have the crowd noise out there and all that stuff at practice all week. I want to say, and I’m not sure, I remember watching the game, maybe it was Oklahoma State played there a couple of years ago. They have beaten big teams there, and they get that crowd going. When they’ve done that there’s a little bit expectation of doing that again coming in. That’s what we have to be ready for.”

“I learned early in my career not to take those games for granted. I go back, it might sound weird, but I was at Bowling Green and we played Northern Illinois. We were ranked, and it was a big, big game. I’d never seen a lot of crowd noise, I’d never seen a large crowd there before. They sold it out and handed thunderstix out to everybody in the crowd, and it was deafening, and we had about six false starts because we didn’t practice with the crowd noise all week. We got caught off guard, and I’ll make sure that never happens to us again. No matter what stadium you’re going into, you're preparing for it to be a very hostile environment.”

“One of the reasons we play this game, a lot of our fans show up and try to balance it off and give us some backup out there on the field while we’re playing. We won’t change our practice schedule, but we’ll prepare as we do for any road game. This will sound, again, like weird coach-talk, but you’re preparing just like you would prepare like you're going to Alabama as you are going to Troy with the crowd noise and being on the road and being in a hostile environment.”

Did you watch Louisiana-Monroe’s win at Arkansas?
“I was flipping around a bunch of games, and I caught the overtime part of that.”

Will you point to this as a warning to the team what can happen?
“Very easily. I didn’t today, because we talked about that that sweet taste of victory Saturday will turn into the most sour taste in your mouth if we don’t prepare properly this week. We’re able to win that game, we prepared very well in practice last week. Our guys performed that way on Saturday and made plays. That was always our focus, but it is something that we’ll always touch on, and it’s not just that, it’s every week in college football. If you don’t play your A game, if you don’t perform, there’s no guarantee on any team in this country. You’ve got to come out and perform week in and week out. You’re looking at these 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kids, how they practice is how they’re going to play, and the focus they’re going to have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, you can’t, there’s not a team in the country that can just flick it on and say, here we are, we’re just going to perform on Saturday. You have to prepare to perform that way, and that’s a big part for this week for us.”

Did you see A&M or Missouri?
“Yeah I caught just little parts of games. Got to see some of the A&M/Florida game a little bit there at the end. We had a lot going on with recruits on campus but it looks like A&M had a good first half and Florida shut them down in the second half. The clips of the Missouri/Georgia game looked strange because it seemed like both teams moved the ball down the field and then fumble it. In the end you know what you saw is two SEC-type games and it looked like an excellent atmosphere and they both they can come in here and play and compete in this league. I think the atmospheres they showed in their stadiums showed they are excellent additions to our league."

On College Gameday saying nice things about Tyler Russell?
“Oh, that’s nice of them. It’s very complimentary and I hope they continue to say nice things because it usually means you’re winning. It’s good for our guys and those guys four years ago came here at Mississippi State when we were trying to sell them on something. Scott Stricklin and Mark Keenum and everybody involved in our athletic department are selling them on an idea. If you come fill the stadium we’ll create an unbelievable environment. If you believe in what we’re doing, then we're going to win a lot of football games. Now they’re getting to see, that did come true. Now by believing in filling our stadium, working hard and believing in our program then they’d see success. I think they’re getting recognition and that's the cherry on top."

What did the kicking coach have to say about the kickoff touchdown?
“We’re going to look into that. The kick return for a touchdown, honestly, the two biggest culprits was maybe I put our guys in a bad position. Cam Lawrence and John Banks both didn’t get off a block and stayed on a block too long. I think they assumed we would kick it out of the end zone with the strong wind and all of a sudden got caught and weren’t in the right position. I trust that if I’m going to lose a game and John Banks is the reason then I’ll still sleep like a baby that night because he’s done so much and meant so much to our football program. We will look at how we're doing it and look at the scheme. You're always evaluating it and making sure you have personnel on the field at the right time with the right guys getting reps.”

Are you evaluating the placekickers?
“I’m just going to evaluate them through the week of practice. I still have a lot of confidence in Devon Bell and I think one of things that allows me to have confidence in him is when you look at how he kicks his extra points, how he kicks his kickoffs--that was not a guy that was lacking in any confidence. I think it’s about getting him confidence because you can see in his technique that he’s a little more strain in his field goals. He has got enough leg and doesn’t need to be straining. If it’s adrenaline or whatever it is he has, you can see it in his technique. He knows he can do the job and he’s handled it really well. He’s not pleased with himself really well. I see somebody with that angry look in their eye instead of that nervous look in their eye. I want to prove he can do this right. I’m not afraid to give other guys an opportunity to kick.”

HONOR ROLL: The SEC named QB Tyler Russell their Offensive Player of the Week, following the victory over Auburn. Russell was 20-of-29 passing against the Tigers, for 222 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Those twenty completions were spread among nine receivers as well.

For his first two games Russell already has 407 passing yards and five scores against no turnovers. The new SEC statistics only show Russell 10th in league passing efficiency this week. But, that is because minimums for attempts haven’t been set; of the nine quarterbacks in front of him five have eight or fewer throws to-date, and the league leader is just 1-of-1 total!

Russell was not available Monday for interviews with class and practice scheduling.

DON’T TUNE IN, LOG ON: Saturday’s road game is booked for ESPN3 broadcast, but is available only through the on-line outlet. That might discomfit Bulldog fans, not to mention a certain technically-challenged former baseball coach, in finding a way to watch their team. Just not the boss.

“Fortunately I’m going to be at the game,” Mullen said. “I’ll be seeing it live!”

PARTICIPATION LIST: A total of 66 Bulldogs played in Saturday’s win. No new redshirt or true freshmen were activated in the second week. The only first-time starter for this season was TE Marcus Green , in place of game-one FB Sylvester Hemphill. Playing for the first time this year were CB Jamerson Love, WR Ricco Sanders, OG Templeton Hardy, and DT Curtis Virges.

Game-one participants not playing against Auburn were ST James Baldwin, PK Charlie Grandfield, RB Kasey Akins, ST Ivan Muniz, S Kendrick Market, DE Corvell Harrison-Gay, ST Joey Trapp, ST D.J. Blanks, DL John Harris.

The full participation list: *WR Chad Bumphis 2-2, WR Brandon Heavens 2-0, WR Jameon Lewis 2-0, *S Nickoe Whitley 2-2, RB Nick Griffin 2-0, *WR Chris Smith 2-2, *CB Darius Slay 2-2, *LB Cameron Lawrence 2-2, WR Ricco Sanders 1-0, LB Chris Hughes 2-0,*CB Johnthan Banks 2-2, CB Cedric Jiles 2-0, QB Dak Prescott 2-0, WR Joe Morrow 2-0, *QB Tyler Russell 2-2, TE Brandon Hill 2-0, *WR Arceto Clark 2-2, DB Louis Watson 2-0, *LB Matt Wells 2-2, FB Sylvester Hemphill 2-1, CB Jamerson Love 1-0, *S Corey Broomfield 2-2, *RB LaDarius Perkins 2-2, RB Derrick Milton 2-0, S Jay Hughes 2-0, ST Sam Williams 2-0, *TE Marcus Green 2-1, RB Josh Robinson 2-0, FB Adrian Marcus 2-0, CB Taveze Calhoun 2-0, S Dee Arrington 2-0, P Baker Swedenburg 2-2, K Devon Bell 2-2, KO Brian Egan 2-0, LB Christian Holmes 2-0, LB Zach Jackson 2-0, DE Ryan Brown 2-0, LB Benardrick McKinney 2-0, *LB Deonte Skinner 2-2, LB Ferlando Bohanna 2-0, DL Quay Evans 2-0, OC Dylan Holley 2-1, OT Archie Muniz 2-0, DT/ST Devin Jones 2-0, *OG Gabe Jackson 2-2, *OC Dillon Day 2-2, OG/ST Ben Beckwith 2-0, *OG Tobias Smith 2-2, OG Templeton Hardy 1-0, OG Justin Malone 2-0, SN Winston Chapman 2-2, DT Dewayne Cherrington 2-0, *OT Blaine Clausell 2-2, *OT Charles Siddoway 2-2, OT Damien Robinson 2-0, WR Robert Johnson 2-0, TE Rufus Warren 2-0, HO Chris Cameron 2-2, DT Nick James 2-0, *DE Denico Autry 2-2, DE Preston Smith 2-0, *DT Kaleb Eulls 2-2, *DE Shane McCardell 2-2, *DT Josh Boyd 2-2, DT Curtis Virges 1-0.



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