September 9, 2012 4:18:21 PM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State University head coach Dan Mullen said there's obviously things his team needs to "clean up" after Saturday's 28-10 victory over Auburn University.
The good news is Mullen and the rest of the MSU staff get to do it in the Bryan Athletic Administration Building starting today with a smile on his face after the program's first 1-0 start in Southeastern Conference play since 1999.
"After watching there's some things we have to get cleaned up and improve on," Mullen said in his weekly Sunday teleconference. "It's always great to do that after a win though because you have a good feeling coming into it on Sunday. I'm really pleased with how our defense played and I think we only allowed Auburn to cross midfield once in the first three quarters. We only allowed a field goal after a turnover and really pleased with the defense. We were able to play a bunch of different guys and they performed. Offensively, we were a little hirky jerky and we have to be a little more consistent. What I mean by that is not having so many three-and-outs. Overall a pretty good feeling around here today."
Mullen did now point out, similarly to in 2010 when MSU beat the University of Georgia, will be interested in how his 2012 Bulldogs team react to a form of success after winning the SEC opener and will likely be favored in at least its next three games.
"I don't know if we're going to sneak up on anybody this year," Mullen said. "That's a good feeling to have. It's a long season and we have to come back this week. There's different kinds of adversity - the adversity of facing failure and the adversity of how you handle success. This is a very important week for our guys because we're in a position to do some great things this week. How do we handle this success by playing a tough team on the road this week."
Some other nuggets gathered from Sunday's media teleconference are as follows:
- Mullen had said he hadn't really broken down Troy University yet by Sunday afternoon but historically has always thought the Trojans (1-1) have had an "explosive offense". The Bulldogs (2-0) will see a split personality team as in a game where they dictated momentum in a win against UAB, the Trojans were able to be much more balanced offensively but in a home loss to Louisiana-Lafayette (led by former MSU coach Mark Hudspeth) Troy quarterback Corey Robinson was forced to throw the football 70 times for 485 yards but were one dimensional.
"I haven't studied them a lot," Mullen said. "We'll get in that today. In knowing their past, they've always been a extremely explosive offense. They run a lot of plays and puts up a lot of points and yards."
- I asked Mullen about the performance of right guard Justin Malone because the redshirt freshman had a lot of playing time Saturday with starter Tobias Smith still recovering from his severe knee injury. It'll be interesting to see if Malone continues to split time in much more highlighted SEC games later in the 2012 season.
"I think he did okay," Mullen said in an excited voice. "There's some things that he's got to continue to improve on but I think he really got some confidence. In his first game, you could he was pretty nervous about being out there. He's got two straight games under his belt, an SEC game under his belt and I think that is huge for his future and as he moves forward in the development we expect from him."
- After joking again that he wasn't happy with the MSU special teams coach (that would be Dan Mullen), the Bulldogs fourth-year head coach discussed how he'll continue to work with freshman kicker Devon Bell. Bell is 0-for-3 on field goals this season but has been very successful on kickoffs and extra points.
"It a low kick on the block," Mullen said. "When I watch the film on Devon, his PAT kicks were fantastic with great height and explosion on them. The field goals simply weren't. That's just something I have to work with him on in practice. It's not like the PATs or kickoffs were shaky so as a freshman, we'll get it figured out for him. That's our job for him. I want to see how practice goes this week. Devon had a really good week of practice. That's something we'll continue to look at."
- I also asked Mullen, for a later feature in The Dispatch, on the usage of redshirt freshman Dak Prescott on third-and-short and fourth-and-short situations. Specifically The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog got Mullen to comment on the similarity of the usage to when Mullen used veteran Chris Leak and freshman Tim Tebow during his time at the University of Florida.
"(Dak) knows he is going to get in the game and has to prepare for the whole gameplan in case he has to be 'the guy'," Mullen said. "It can give him confidence as we go because now he's played in some big moments in an SEC guy. As the season goes forward, it will allow him to grow how we need him to grow."
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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