At 1 p.m. today, Dan Mullen will have his weekly press conference with the local media. Mississippi State beat UAB 47-34 last week and travels to South Alabama this week for its first road game. Live updates from Mullen’s time to follow.
Mullen: “Let me start by sending our condolences out to Jack Cristil’s family. That’s a huge loss for everyone at Mississippi State.”
He adds on Cristil, “He was an institution at this University. Bulldogs everywhere have heavy hearts with his passing. That’s a Bulldog forever. It’s a big loss for all of us.”
Injury news: Mullen says everyone is “good to go” except for senior safety Justin Cox who is questionable with “a leg.”
Breaking down the UAB game, Mullen said the offensive needs to be more consistent and also more explosive. Though he says, “we did control the ball well. In the second half, we did some much better things … Got some things fixed at halftime.”
Mullen: “Preston Smith should be looked at for the Thorpe Award now that he has two interceptions.”
He’s particularly happy that they’ve scored two non-offensive touchdowns so far. Momentum changers.
On South Alabama, Mullen says “they are one of the most veteran teams in the country.” Jaguars have 16 starters who are juniors or seniors.
“Certainly going to be a very tough challenge for us.” He adds that it will be MSU’s first road trip of the year and first true road game since last November at Arkansas. Says guys have to get into the routine of a road game.
On true freshman Jamoral Graham, Mullen says “I’d like to see his role increase in the offense now that we’re gonna play him.” Likes what the receiver did in the return game, now needs him to be ready for more.
On USA QB Brandon Bridge, who was previously at Alcorn State and played MSU: “I remember him running wild. I do remember a blur of him running by me on the sidelines.”
It’s pointed out to Mullen that 12 different people have caught a pass so far. Mullen says it speaks to the depth and part of what they do. They want to rotate to keep guys healthy and energized over the course of a long season.
“It’s been fantastic for us … When they know they’re gonna have the opportunity to play, they’re gonna be prepared.”
On defense, Mullen says they looked at situations and asked how they got out of position each time. Decision-making is part of the process and teaching guys to make the right calls.
“We’re gonna get all that stuff fixed.”
More on Preston Smith: “He’s got such length … He can cover so much ground … The thing that really he’s changed this year is he’s added the size and the strength to be an every-down physical player … He’s explosive off the edge in pass rush and you add that to the natural size and length he has.”
On offensive line and being without Damien Robinson: “I haven’t seen any glaring errors. I haven’t seen anything that is reason for concern.” He says there’s a lot of room for improvement, but he’s “pleased” with how the line has played so far.
On the kickers, Mullen says: “We believe in them. You can’t buy into the negative stuff surrounding them.”
He said kicks across the board Saturday were wonky, including kickoff. Said, “It was like Tiger Woods going out there and Happy Gilmore-ing it.”
But outside of that, he says, “they’re doing a pretty darn good job overall.” Says there has been a negative aura, accidental toe balls, botched snaps or holds and just a series of little things which have made things look worse than they are.