Mullen recalls spread origins

September 10, 2009 11:11:00 AM

Danny P Smith -


STARKVILLE -- Dan Mullen finds it interesting that the spread offense has caught on across the country. 


The Mississippi State football coach has watched as numerous high schools, colleges, and nearly every NFL team has adopted an offense he discovered when he was a graduate assistant at Notre Dame in 1999. 


Mullen and Urban Meyer visited schools like Northwestern and Louisville to get ideas they began using at Notre Dame. 


The trip to Louisville opened the eyes of Meyer to a whole new world of offense. 


"A one-day trip turned into a three-day trip," Meyer said Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference teleconference. "I saw a different perspective on how to move the ball." 


When Meyer was named coach at Bowling Green, he sent Mullen and his staff to visit coaches Kevin Wilson at Northwestern, John L. Smith at Louisville, and Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia. They also went to Purdue when Drew Brees was at quarterback. 


"We came back and put all of those thoughts and ideas of the direction we wanted to take our version of the offense on the board and created it from there," Mullen said. "The version I run has changed and adjusted around the personnel since that day we put it all together." 


Meyer said running the spread depends mostly on personnel and not the scheme. 


When MSU travels to Auburn University at 6 p.m. Saturday (FOX Sports Net South), the Bulldogs will see another version of the spread. 


The Tigers had 556 yards total offense last week in a 37-13 victory against Louisiana Tech. 


Chris Todd is the main quarterback at Auburn, but Kodi Burns can run out of the Wildcat formation. 


"They have a very explosive offensive scheme," Mullen said. "They have some offensive players we need to contain." 


Mullen said the Bulldogs and Tigers are similar offensively. 


When Mullen was offensive coordinator at Florida, he became familiar with Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. 


Malzahn was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas when he got to know Mullen. 


"He would want to talk a lot of football and share ideas," Mullen said. "Gus is a very innovative coach." 




Redshirt for Russell? 


Mullen said having freshman quarterback Riley Saunders taking the final snaps of last Saturday''s 45-7 win against Jackson State doesn''t mean he''s ready to redshirt freshman Tyler Russell. 


Mullen still wants to handle Russell''s situation with care. 


If Russell doesn''t take meaningful snaps in a game, a redshirt will be an option. 


"We''re not 100 percent sure if he is going to redshirt," Mullen said. "We don''t want to put him into a situation until he''s ready to play in a game. To put him in for the last couple of snaps and let him hand off the ball, we''re not going to waste a year of him doing that." 


Mullen said Russell keeps progressing and has "taken a big step forward and had a great week of practice" this week. 




Avoiding the flu 


The University of Alabama and University of Mississippi have had an outbreak of the flu within the football program, but the bug hasn''t hit the MSU yet. 


Outside of a couple of players being sick, the Bulldogs have stayed away from an epidemic. 


"After visiting with the trainers, we''ve had no more (sickness) this week than there have been in the other weeks," Mullen said. "Nothing has really gone through the team."