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Monday Talk with Dan Mullen: MSU coach talks about defending A&M's Johnny Manziel




Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE - Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen sounded like a he was the host of a game show when trying to describe defending Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.  


Essentially on every play the No. 11 Aggies (7-2, 3-2 in Southeastern Conference) there's a choice between what's behind two doors and a mystery box.  


Door No. 1 is the SEC's leading passer at 318.6 yards per game and 72.5 percent of his attempts.  


Door No. 2 is the 13th best runner in the SEC and second-best most prolific running quarterback in the league at 24 rushes of 10 yards or more.  


Then there's what's inside the mystery box: which is when Manziel is forced to improvise and doesn't exactly know pre-snap if he's going to throw or run. Manziel averages 9.22 yards per play as the leader in total offense in the SEC.  


"There is a little bit of everything," Mullen said Monday in his media conference at the Seal Family Football Complex. "His ability to run the football, which you have to defend against. His ability to throw the football, which you have to defend against and the third one, which is his ability to improvise. Improvising, he can run or throw. That is where the difficult problem comes in." 


On the road to winning the 2012 Heisman Trophy, Manziel totaled 440 total yards (311 passing, 57 rushing) and two touchdowns in a 38-13 victory over the Bulldogs in Davis Wade Stadium.  


"We are playing the defending Heisman Trophy winner," Mullen said. "We went from playing the best defensive player in the country to this week playing probably the best offensive player in the country." 


Manziel threw four touchdown passes and ran for two more scores in less than three quarters to lead No. 12 Texas A&M to a lopsided 57-7 win over UTEP last weekend.  


Manziel threw touchdown passes of 44, 15, 17 and 26 yards and had TD runs of 10 and 49 yards before being taken out of the game with 7:39 left in the third quarter. Manziel has accounted for 33 touchdowns on the season, 25 passing and eight rushing. 


The Aggies face MSU (4-4, 1-3 in SEC) in their final home game of the season, and perhaps the final home game of Manziel's career 




With no practice for the MSU squad Monday, here's some bullet points on other nuggets that Mullen talked about with the media:  




- Mullen ran through the MSU injury report as quickly as he could and here's the list of players that are currently out of action Saturday for the Bulldogs: 


LB Ferlando Bohanna - OUT 


DE Torrey Dale - OUT 


TE Brandon Hill - OUT 


S Jay Hughes - OUT 


TE Gus Walley - OUT 


DT Jordan Washington - OUT 


OG Tobias Smith (who was never IN) - OUT 


DB Dee Arrington - OUT 




- When asked why he made the change at kicker and punter, Mullen went into no detail and suggested the battle would continue to fall on practice reports between Devon Bell, Evan Sobiesk and Baker Swedenburg. 


"I like being successful," Mullen said. "I like big, long punts with great hang time, I like field goals that go through the uprights and kickoffs that go through the back of the end zone. If that's the recipe for it, than that's what we do, but we always evaluate practice." 




- The mother of Mississippi State sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott died Sunday morning. Peggy Prescott lost her long battle with colon cancer and leaves three children with Dak being the youngest of the trio. MSU's quarterback shaved his head prior to the 2013 season to support his mother's battle with cancer. MSU spokespeople Dak Prescott is in his hometown of Haughton, La., with his family and the funeral is scheduled to be Wednesday with the MSU team planning to attend. Mullen spoke Monday on how he remembered Prescott's mother.  


"The best way I can judge somebody, is how she raised her son," Mullen said. "I hope my son turns out like Dak. He's a guy that is a great student, is a great football player, is a great effort guy, a teammate, a leader, does everything the right way and does it as hard as he possibly can. Going through everything she's had to go through, the love that she has, not just for Dak, but all her sons, is pretty amazing and how tight knit a family they were and the pride she takes in them." 




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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