Live thread: Dan Mullen press conference, Troy week

At 1 p.m. today, Dan Mullen will meet with the media for his weekly press conference. Mississippi State lost at Texas A&M last weekend and hosts Troy this Saturday.

Updates to follow.

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CAWAEAVNJCGHTNO.20151004011335Mullen is here and his first thought: “It’s great coming back home.”

Three of the first five games were on the road, now MSU finishes with five of last seven at home.

Mullen is looking back at the A&M game now and says even after watching film, his thoughts are the same from Saturday. A&M played well, MSU didn’t.

“Look at all the things we did to win at Auburn, A&M did those things and beat us.”

Looking ahead to Troy, Mullen said both teams are familiar with each other from recent contests. Added that, in today’s world of college football, every team has to “play at a high level” no matter the opponent or could get beat.

Even with a new coaching staff, Mullen says “the philosophy is similar” and that while there will certainly be differences, MSU feels like it has a good idea of what to expect.

On the injury front, Mullen says senior safety Kendrick Market is out for the year with a torn ACL, saying, “that’s a huge loss for us.”

Wide receivers Joe Morrow and Gabe Myles, cornerback Will Redmond and left tackle Rufus Warren, are all “questionable” going forward but Mullen says the trainers feel good about their prospects. Also said they made the decision to hold tight end Gus Walley out last week, but they feel good about his health going forward. Possibly could have played against A&M, but they played it safe with him.

As for Myles, Mullen said they originally thought it would be much worse but the diagnosis was very positive. They don’t expect him to be out for an extended period of time.

Going forward, several young guys will have to play more, and several already have, as a rough week for injuries means depth players will have to get in the game more.

“It’s our job as coaches to put them in a position to be ready to go and do those things.”

Mullen says MSU still has “a ways to go” in getting the rushing game going. Said statistics are improving, but wants to keep improving. Mullen wants to be balanced when possible, though he says situations and personnel often dictate how balanced a team can be.

Talking now about true freshman receiver Malik Dear, who enrolled in college early back in January. Mullen said he got to campus a little overweight and was never really in shape during the spring, but he made huge improvements in physical conditioning over the summer and got to fall camp with much more confidence and looking almost like a veteran.

On that note, it sounds like MSU has plans to keep playing young guys. Just overall, Mullen says, they want to rotate and play more people than they have to this point. Said the coaching staff will put an emphasis on doing that going forward.

Mullen also thinks more rotation will keep players fresher which can help lead to big plays, such as turnovers on defense, on both sides of the ball.

Talking more about the defense, Mullen says he’s pleased overall, especially with not giving up too many plays. If looking for places to improve, though, he says getting more three-and-outs would be helpful. “But overall, I think we’re playing really good defense.”

On that side of the ball, junior end AJ Jefferson has played well lately, a spark Mullen saw begin last year. Importantly, Mullen said Jefferson has done a great job of maturing over the last 18 months or so. He’s comfortable now, and mature in knowing that he isn’t always the one making the plays and is sometimes depended on to help open things up for other people.

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