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Dispatch Pre-game Tuesday - Mullen will script the first 12 plays of season opener




Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE - MSU head coach Dan Mullen said Tuesday he'll continue his routine of scripting the first 12 offensive plays of the game for the Bulldogs season opener against Jackson State University Saturday (6 p.m., Fox Sports South) 


The Bulldogs fourth year head coach discussed the matter, which has become a nationwide trend among offensive coaches in football, being a perfect way to calm nerves of younger players and give confidence to junior quarterback Tyler Russell during the first game of the season, during Tuesday's media session in Starkville.  


"You want your quarterback involved in what he feels good early in the game, Mullen said. "If you've got a play you want to make sure you get called, or you want to see early. You put that in there." 


Even some of the veterans have noticed the comfort factor in knowing what the calls are likely to be on the opening drive of the game. 


"Anytime you already know what you're doing before the game even starts, it just allows you to not have to think so much and you can relax out there," MSU senior wide receiver Arceto Clark said. "You can just go out and play early inside of worrying about messing up because you know what to do." 


Mullen said Tuesday the idea of scripting the first dozen calls could be altered by game situations involving down and distance along with where MSU is on the field relatively to the play call needed at the time. 


"Obviously the circumstances can throw you off that," Mullen said. "I mean, you get a third down, you might go over to your third down calls; you get down in the red zone, you're going to your red zone calls. I think it just kind of gives you a starting point of where you want to go, how you want to start the game, and what you're looking for." 


Mullen also suggested what scripting the first dozen play calls of the game gives MSU an early look at how a defense will line up against a certain package or play call. This makes in-game adjustments much easier later in the game when looking for a certain play call to exploit a certain area of the field. 


"If I want to see how (a defense) plays empty (set), well let's get into it early and see what they're going to do in it," Mullen said. "I want to see how they're going to play a I Formation, let's get in the I and say 'OK, what if we do unbalanced, what do they do to that?'" 


Mullen's new wide receiver coach Tim Brewster acknowledged it was something he did while the head coach of the University of Minnesota and added its gets his 100 percent seal of approval in any game situation.  


"I think it's imperative that your football team understands your plan," Brewster said. "Mastering the details of the play is what is going to allow you to win. That was my ending statement with my receivers today...so on Saturday night we're not thinking about anything, we're just reacting, running, playing the game with speed and that's another thing that allows you to do that." 


Mullen referenced the first play call of his coaching career against Jackson State in 2009, a double reverse pass, that was mapped out in his mind months before the kickoff of MSU's 45-7 win at Davis Wade Stadium. 


"That double-reverse was planned out like a year, a long time ago," Mullen said with a smile. "Now we're four years in, we'll probably hand it off up the middle (and the fans will yell) 'booooo!'" 




Some other nuggets gathered from Tuesday's media conference are as follows:  




- MSU freshman wide receiver Joe Morrow says he is dedicating Saturday's season opening football game to the people dealing with Hurricane Isaac near his hometown. 


Before he even took questions during his pre-game media session Tuesday, the first words from the Bulldogs freshman wide receiver was to dedicate the contest Saturday against Jackson State to the people affected by the natural disaster. 


"I'm from Ocean Springs and we're about to get that hurricane so on behalf of my teammates we're going to dedicate this game Saturday to everybody that is affected by the hurricane," Morrow said. "I know I got family down there and some teammates got family down there so this game is going to be for them." 


I'll have more on this in a feature in Wednesday's edition of the Dispatch.  




- MSU wide receiver coach Tim Brewster said unprompted Tuesday Morrow has been dealing with a knee bruise that's made him "a little gimpy" but the freshman target said he will be healthy for Saturday's contest. Morrow was not part of Mullen's announced injury report Monday.  




- Mullen and defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said Tuesday the coaching staff are trying to keep in contact with the MSU players families which could be directly affected by Hurricane Isaac including monitoring families that have already made their way to Starkville.  


"We're in the safe place, a lot of them their families are coming in this direction instead of our guys going," Mullen said. "Certainly they don't need to go down there to check on their families this moment, right now. I've talked to a bunch of our guys. I think some of the families that maybe were planning on coming up for the game Saturday, are already up here." 




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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