In week two, Mississippi State trades South Alabama for South Carolina, opening SEC play on Saturday night at 6 in Davis Wade Stadium against the Gamecocks.
Dan Mullen will address the media for his weekly press conference today at 1 p.m. Updates to follow.
And he’s here. Let’s get rolling.
On opening SEC play, “That first conference game, a lot of times, will dictate how the rest of your season goes.”
Adds, “They’ve got a good football team.” USC has a two-quarterback system, complemented, Mullen says, by “some explosive young receivers.”
Mullen also impressed by USC’s defensive front seven with some linemen who get to the quarterback well, aided by a veteran group of linebackers.
One of the hard parts, Mullen said, is having “limited” film on USC with an entirely new coaching staff. He does at least have an idea what head coach Will Muschamp’s defense will look like from last year at Auburn. Said he thinks they’ll be an “attacking” defense.
Asked what he wants to see from his own team this weekend, Mullen says, “A team that goes out and plays hard, plays with relentless effort. The same thing I want to see every Saturday from our guys.”
More review of his team, Mullen said he thought the offensive line played well the majority of the game but, like many positions, had a few critical errors that affected the game negatively.
Mullen says quarterback, like every other position, is always a competition. “We’ll see how everyone does in practice this week.” He said previously in the press conference that he doesn’t know that he’d have done anything differently with the QBs in retrospect.
Mullen offering high praise for senior defensive end A.J. Jefferson now, saying he’s the next in line of the great defensive linemen at MSU with Ryan Brown, Chris Jones, Preston Smith, Pernell McPhee, Josh Boyd, Fletcher Cox, etc.
“He’s expected, as the veteran guy in that unit, to get that standard extra high … He’s probably our most productive defensive linemen in practice as well. It’s good for the young guys to see that if they compete well in practice, it’ll pay off on game days.”
As for the secondary, Mullen said “they’re improving … they adjusted well” to the new roles caused by injuries and “We need to see continual improvement from those guys going forward.”
Mullen didn’t want to apply the problem to any one spot. He said, “there are little issues everywhere.” One big issue, though, is that MSU gave up 12 “explosive” plays, and that’s more concerning to Mullen than any other specific position. He said what they need is consistency across the board.
Mullen said part of the problem, as well, was how the team performed after halftime. “Our effort and execution dropped in the second half.” Not something Mullen expects from his team and not fitting with the usual mental approach of the program.
Going forward, Mullen said they’ll announce Saturday if there are any more suspensions, with three players out last weekend.
And that’s it for Mullen. As he leaves, he tells a reporter they had an intense practice on Monday. “I was flying around at practice yesterday.”