November 5, 2012 9:18:51 AM
Matthew Stevens - email@example.com
STARKVILLE -- Dan Mullen wants everybody who has a passion for Mississippi State University football to know where to point the finger.
Following a disappointing 38-13 loss to then-No. 16 Texas A&M University on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium, the Bulldogs' fourth-year head coach said he wants that finger to point only to him.
But Mullen won't make sweeping changes or "panic" following consecutive losses to the University of Alabama and Texas A&M.
"We don't get panicked about all this stuff," Mullen said Sunday in his weekly teleconference. "We just have to improve, coach them, and get them better and ready to play."
Mullen and his coaches have to address the numerous missed tackles defenders had trying to stop freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel and the Aggies. While Mullen wouldn't say how many missed tackles the Bulldogs had Saturday, he said the MSU coaches didn't put the players in the correct positions to make those plays.
"We had a lot of missed tackles on a lot of different players," Mullen said. "That's on me making sure we have the guys in the right position to make those tackles."
Texas A&M had a season-high 693 yards of offense, including 440 by Manziel. The Aggies didn't have to punt until the middle of the third quarter.
"That was as bad a performance as I think we've had in here in a quite a long time," Mullen said.
Manziel, whose nickname is "Johnny Football," appeared to toy
with the MSU at times. He silenced the 55,240 fans at Scott Field with a 37-yard run where he ran past, around, and over tacklers to put the Aggies up 21-0.
MSU players said the coaches had them in the right spots but the effort to finish plays was lacking.
"They did what we were expecting," MSU senior linebacker Cam Lawrence said. "It comes down to execution. We had guys in the right place but had several missed tackles. That is something that is reoccurring and we have to get that fixed."
Mullen, whose team (7-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) slipped to No. 22 in this week's The Associated Press rankings, will prepare to face No. 9 LSU (7-2, 3-2) in Death Valley. He said the coaches need to offer better instruction to the players to ensure the tackling improves. He said the issue isn't going to be solved by giving key reserves, especially on the offensive line, more playing time.
"We're two 7-2 teams going to play in the middle of November on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, so that makes it a pretty big game," Mullen said. "If you can't get up for it then you got a lot of problems. You must not love football."