September 3, 2012 4:35:02 PM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said Monday he simply doesn't think about his current record against the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference.
No need to worry about that - there's little doubt Bulldogs fans won't remind the fourth-year coach of that 3-12 mark with the only wins coming against the University of Mississippi.
"I've never had that thought (of changing the perception) and I mean, we've beaten Florida, Georgia, Michigan and we've beaten a lot of teams so we've lost to a bunch of teams too," I really think about this season and my goal every year is to win the SEC West, well to do that you really need to win your first conference game."
Added to the fact that Mullen has never beaten his opponent for Saturday, Auburn University, in his entire head-coaching career.
"I think it's tough to lose your first conference game and come back to win that first conference game," Mullen said. "Teams have done it but you put yourself in a uphill battle so that's something you guys think about (but) to be honest with you I've never thought of it."
Mullen has lost the game by a close margin each of the last two years as Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton led Auburn to a 17-14 victory in Davis Wade Stadium and last season, as a 6-point favorite at Jordan-Hare Stadium the Bulldogs lost on the last play of the game in a 41-34 loss.
"I've made a huge emphasis, I've talked about it over and over, one if you want to compete for a championship you have to win all your home games because the competitiveness of being on the road in this league is tough. (The) opportunity to start a SEC season at home against a West opponent, it's very important to find a way to win this football game and catapult yourself into the rest of the season within conference play."
The connection can be made from Mullen to new Auburn offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler as Loeffler replaced the Bulldogs coach as quarterbacks coach at University of Florida when Mullen moved to Starkville.
"I've known Scott a long time," Mullen said. "His foundation comes form Michigan and running the Michigan offense for all those years and what he played and what he coached in and came up with. Then I think he's added to it, some of the stuff we did in Florida. It's a combination. The tough part is seeing where his personality strikes. He's a guy that's going to utilize their personnel to do what they can do well. I don't know if we've got to see the total personality of that offense is, what their focus is, what type of team they're gonna be. Are they more older Michigan? Are they more, kind of, a little bit spread-based? A little bit of both and what percentage are they?"
Mullen said Monday he was convinced Auburn held some of their offensive playbook back in their 26-19 loss to No. 14 Clemson.
"It does have that flavor and some touch of that spread offense in there," Mullen said. "We'll see. I don't know, especially in the first game, that they opened up the entire playbook. I think we'll see a little bit more out of them this week."
Some other nuggets gathered from Monday's media conference are as follows:
- After he exited the podium Mullen gave the media the injury report for the week:
Sophomore TE Malcolm Johnson is still out (pectoral)
Senior OL Templeton Hardy has been upgraded to probable (ankle)
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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