Mullen on seniors, close calls, Arkansas and injuries

There is plenty of news as well as several notes to pass along from Dan Mullen’s weekly Monday press conference, but not before a look back at the weekend.

Mississippi State’s head coach spent much of his opening comments discussing the loss to LSU, how close it was despite the score and how his team was one play away from a potential 14-point swing late in the game.

Mullen pointed to several things, but said, mainly, MSU has to “be cleaner” in the execution of little things.

The head coach talked a bit about the shakeup in the secondary, as well, with Jay Hughes earning a start at safety and usual-starter Corey Broomfield seeing some time at cornerback.

The goal, Mullen said, was to free up All-American corner Johnthan Banks.

“I think a lot of teams were trying to stay away from John,” Mullen said. “People like to isolate him on one side and then just not throw there.”

By moving around the secondary, MSU was able to be more selective with where and how Banks was used.

MSU was, of course, without starting running back LaDarius Perkins, who was dealing with a muscle strain suffered in practice last week. Mullen said sophomore Nick Griffin graded out as a “champion” in Perkins’ stead, but because of game situations, the running game never really got going.

“I don’t think we had the opportunity to stick with that, making mistakes and falling behind,” Mullen said.

On that injury note, Mullen said Perkins is expected to play this weekend against Arkansas, though he did note, “You never know with muscle injuries.”

And speaking of Arkansas, Mullen said he has plenty of respect for a talented team, despite the poor record.

In the preseason, the Razorbacks were considered national title contenders, and while those hopes have disappeared, Mullen still sees Arkansas as a dangerous team.

“They didn’t trade away all that talent mid-season,” Mullen joked. “They didn’t pull a Red Sox and dump the roster.”

Mullen, you may recall, is a Red Sox fan.

Saturday’s game – kicking off at 11:21 a.m. – is also Senior Day, the final game at Davis Wade for guys like Banks, Broomfield, Chad Bumphis and many others.

This weekend’s game also would have been Nick Bell’s Senior Day before his too-early passing, and Mullen said he will be honored before the game along with all of MSU’s seniors. His mother, Linda Bell, will be at the game Saturday and will be recognized for her son.

We’ll have more on the seniors throughout the week, though Mullen talked at length about Bumphis and Banks Monday afternoon, two of the pillars from Mullen’s first signing class.

Bumphis, in fact, was the only player MSU was recruiting who Mullen knew when he left Florida to become State’s new head coach after the 2008 season.

“He helped me as a bridge to all the other guys,” Mullen said.

Now, here are some videos from MSU’s assistant coaches.

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