Live thread: Dan Mullen press conference, USM week

At 1 p.m. today, Dan Mullen will hold his weekly press conference. Mississippi State plays Southern Miss in Hattiesburg this Saturday to open the 2015 season.

We’ll share live updates here from his time at the podium.

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11831781_1077484982263983_2300907706273587827_nMullen is here and, as you can imagine, “we’re excited to get this season kicked off,” he says.

Adds, “We’re excited to see what type of team we have. You don’t really know what you have until you play someone else.”

Opening question comes in regards to Southern Miss and they’re high number of transfers.

“It’s hard to see what type of guys you’re going to be playing against,” Mullen says. He thinks that’s always the case early in the year anyway because teams are so different from year-to-year, even more so with USM now.

“Early in the year you tend to be more self-focused,” as a result of not having as much to scout on other teams.

On another note, Mullen says they haven’t voted on captains yet. They will do so later this week, though they do have an 11-man leadership council elected already.

Couple positional questions here.

First on offensive line, Mullen says MSU has the chance to have really strong depth, “if we have the opportunity to bring them along slowly.”

On running back, Mullen said the biggest thing is for Ashton Shumpert to be comfortable making the transition from backup to starter. What he likes a lot is the physicality of the running backs as a group, several hard hitters.

On the other side of the ball, Mullen says “our defense will be ready to play Saturday.” Explained that he and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz work very well together and he’s been impressed with what Diaz has done and how he’s grown.

One thing Mullen is harping on for this game is something he’s been talking about all offseason and preseason: redzone success. He’s mentioned before that MSU’s only “struggle” offensively last year was scoring touchdowns in the redzone and he very much wants to improve on that in 2015, starting Saturday in Hattiesburg.

As far as backup QB goes, “I think there’s a lot of gut feeling” to making those decisions of when to put them in, who to put in and everything about it. Said the key is to get QBs snaps early so that if you have to put them in during a late-game situation, they’ll be prepared.

Injury update: Mullen says no one is out for “any extended period of time” and expects everybody to play Saturday. “We’re actually really healthy, knock on wood.”

Mullen talking defense again, he says he lets Diaz and the crew have most of the control over the gameplan, while he tends to add more during the game. Said he mostly knows he wants an aggressive defense with “11 guys flying to the football.”

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