At 1 p.m. today, Dan Mullen will meet with the local media for his weekly press conference. Mississippi State is 4-0 and ranked 12 in the country following its first off week and plays Texas A&M in Starkville on Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN.
Live updates from Mullen to follow. In the meantime, enjoy the latest installment of This Is Our Plate, a weekly segment highlighting Starkville-area restaurants.
As we wait on Mullen to arrive, we’ve been given an updated depth chart for the weekend. With Dillon Day suspended, guard Ben Beckwith is listed as the starter at center while sophomore Jamaal Clayborn is listed as the starter in Beckwith’s place at left guard. The other three spots (Blaine Clausell, Justin Malone and Justin Senior) remain the same.
“We’re excited to get this week gong,” Mullen says. “A lot of exciting things happening around campus.”
On SEC Nation coming, Mullen says, “Hopefully all our fans and students are up early.”
On to Texas A&M, Mullen calls the Aggies, “An explosive offense, one of the best offensive lines in the country.” Adds that they are “a much improved defensive team.” Says they do will against the run and has a good pass rush.
Mullen says they’ll try to manage the tempo of the game, “but you know you’re gonna have to score to win the game.” Said A&M is averaging 51 points a game, “So we need to score 52.”
Asked specifically about Josh Robinson, Mullen says he loves his personality and is proud of how much he’s matured. Says someone who is so positive can sometimes go too far with it and that Robinson has learned how to manage himself.
On A&M QB Kenny Hill: “He really anticipates throws well down the field … There’s a lot of confidence that goes in that. For a guy to let it rip before a receiver comes out of his break shows a lot of knowledge in the system.”
Mullen adds that Hill is an elusive runner and can keep a play alive, even if you have guys in coverage.
As for the early kick on Saturday, Mullen says the only thing they change is moving team chapel to Friday night instead of Saturday morning.
Mullen: “We want to give our fans a team that can compete for a championship. We’re in that position and we need their help.”
“When people say ‘What’s the hardest stadium to play in in the country?’ That’s what we want [Davis Wade] to be.”
On not having Day at center, Mullen says this is where all the rotation they do becomes important. Guys have played different positions and everyone has played in games, so they ought to be prepared.
Following the off week, Mullen says guys ought to be rested after getting a lot of time off.
Mullen: “I’m excited to see Tim [Tebow]. But the last time he was here, John Banks had two pick-sixes, so I’m not sure how excited he is to be here. No, I’m just kidding. He’ll probably get mad at me for saying that.”
Mullen was asked about A&M’s susceptibility to giving up big plays to opposing offenses and said it can be dangerous to try and exploit it that. “If you take too many shots and you don’t hit them, it can really stall drives.”
Mullen says he likes Kevin Sumlin and A&M’s offense. “I study what they do an awful lot.” Says they’ll sometimes steal things from what they do, which he says is a sign of respect.
Going back to Sumlin’s days at Houston, he and Mullen have played each other a lot, so Mullen says they’ve always been a bit careful about what they say to each other.
More on the A&M offense, Mullen says they make a lot of short throws and screens to reel you in, then they’ll try and hit you with the big play down the field once you crowd in.
Mullen says they expect right tackle Justin Senior (knee) to be back today, likely full-go. If he’s limited today, he’ll be 100 percent tomorrow.