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MSU football fall practice report No. 5 - Mullen discusses role for the newcomers




Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE - Over the last two days of media session, Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen has discussed his philosophy for how the incoming freshmen will be viewed in terms of specific roles for the upcoming 2012 season.  


The evaluations have already started about which players will be redshirted and protected from game action this fall and the certain few that will be see playing time in Southeastern Conference games in a few months.  


"I think we've had freshmen play every year that I've been here," Mullen said Sunday night. "So, that will happen. I think a lot of times, the funny one, it'll happen with the guys you don't think it'll happen with, that's the tricky one." 


After former Mississippi State quarterback and current MSU radio color commentator for Bulldogs games Matt Wyatt, otherwise known as one of The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog's favorite people, asked Mullen a question about the transition of practice rules for freshmen, the MSU fourth-year head coach discussed Monday his belief that college football programs might not be giving newcomers the best chance and odds to succeed early.  


"I liked it the old way (where the NCAA allowed three straight days of freshmen-only practices before fall camp started) because that's one where we're educators and that's one that's poor teaching," Mullen said. "If you ask an educator, that's a bad way to do things. It's like taking a kid that will start school this year and put him in a fifth grade class, well he didn't first through fourth. Well....that's okay. That's one of the reasons we do split the practice up to get more individual attention," 




The other interesting element of Monday's conversation was what programs are going to be doing with the new kickoff rule in college football where the ball has been moved up to the 35-yard-line and if a touchback occurs, then the offense will now get the ball on the 25-yard line instead of the 20 as in years past.  


MSU recruited and signed a freshman kicker Devon Bell specifically for his ability to kick the ball deep in kickoff situations and it'll be interesting during the 2012 season if that skill is negated with the new rules.  


"It's a huge deal and shoot, we finally get a guy (like) Devon Bell that can kick it out of the end zone so now he should be able to kick into the stands," Mullen said jokingly. "I think a lot of decisions will have to be made like do you want to kick it out the end zone and give it to them at the 25 or do you want to try, with less field to cover, to pin the opponent inside the 20. I don't know if anybody will have the decisions on that until the season gets going." 




In other news to filed under things Dan Mullen wants us to believe but were unable to verity ourselves:  




- Mullen said Monday he hasn't made a decision on the field goal kicking responsibilities yet between Bell and freshman Evan Sobiesk from Oak Grove as the Bulldogs have not done live kicking simulations yet in front of a line trying to block the attempt.  




- Mullen also said with the graduation loss of Marvin Bure to the special teams unit, the position of speed gunner (player on the end of the line of scrimmage on a kickoff or punt that is responsible for making the first tackle of the returner) is wide open between as many as 10 players and that decision won't likely be made until game week of the Sept. 1 season opener against Jackson State. 




- Mullen talked Monday about the importance of senior wide receiver Chad Bumphis to have a memorable final season in a MSU uniform and the Tupelo native has gotten a lot of attention since his breakout freshman season.  


"He's a guy that's done a lot for us and drawn a lot of attention for us from other defense too," Mullen said. "If they're going to double him, other people's numbers are going to go up." 




All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.



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