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MSU's spread attack will go against UGA's pro style


Matthew Stevens



STARKVILLE --┬áThe Mississippi State football team will take part in a throwback game of sorts at 11 a.m. Saturday (Fox Sports Net) at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. 


The University of Georgia will use a professional-based system in which quarterback Aaron Murray will be under center and will do most of his damage in the pocket., while MSU will rely on an offense in which quarterback Chris Relf will take the snap in a variety of ways and will try to mix the run and the pass. 


"You just faced an offense that was very, very different than the scheme we saw last week, where these guys, the base of their formation is I-formation, under center much more," said MSU coach Dan Mullen, a former offensive coordinator at the University of Florida. "(Georgia) is similar to an LSU-type team. You're always just adjusting to the scheme you play each week." 


Murray, a Tampa, Fla., native, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution one of the reasons he picked Georgia over Mullen and his offense at Florida because he didn't think he could operate an offense that requires the quarterback to run. 


Five years ago, Murray was named the MVP at a Florida quarterback camp where Mullen, who was then the Gators' offensive coordinator, was an instructor. 


In his Southeastern Conference media teleconference, Mullen disagreed with Murray's assessment of the quarterback's responsibilities in his spread offense. 


"Through the years, we've made it work (with smaller quarterbacks)," Mullen said. "It worked pretty well with Alex Smith at Utah, and it worked well (enough) with Chris Leak to win a national championship at Florida, so you tweak certain things within your offense around the style of your quarterbacks." 


Through four games this season, MSU senior quarterback Chris Relf has 657 passing yards and is second in rushing on the team with 187 yards. 




Mullen said Saturday won't affect future Georgia recruiting 


MSU has four players from the state of Georgia on the roster, but Mullen doesn't think the result of his first trip to Athens, Ga., for a game this weekend will affect his program's ability to recruit in another Southeastern Conference-member state. 


"We don't play them every single year, so it's not a team we battle," 


Mullen said. "We don't battle Georgia for a lot of Georgia kids. There's other schools we end up recruiting against for those kids." 


MSU safety Darius Slay, offensive lineman Sam Watts, defensive lineman Preston Smith, and athlete Allen Tolbert are from Georgia. 


MSU has the same number of players from Georgia as it does from Texas. 


If there's any difference in recruiting the Peach State in the future, Mullen believes it may come with kids just starting high school and not ones who already are taking official visits. 


"I don't know if it has a significant impact, but we want to go out and play well because I'm sure there will be a lot of kids at the game and a lot of Georgia kids watching this game," Mullen said. "A lot of the 13- and 14-year-olds that are just starting to watch football, they are watching teams saying, 'I like the way our team plays,' and they get interested." 




MSU AD doesn't expect a 9-game SEC football schedule in 2012 


MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin used his weekly web site column to welcome Texas A&M to the SEC and to give his perspective about the challenge the 13-team league will face with scheduling. 


This scheduling equation affects MSU's football program, which is searching for a final non-conference home game after Louisiana Tech bought its way out of the contract for the 2012 game earlier this summer. Stricklin has said previously he would prefer to schedule a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly called I-A) team instead of a second team from the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly called I-AA) because MSU already opens next season against Mississippi Valley State in Starkville. 


"From a Mississippi State perspective, the moving parts created by expansion could impact us as we work toward filling our 2012 non-conference football schedule," Stricklin said in his statement. "We are in conversations with a handful of schools, but need to see how the league schedule for 2012 shakes out before entering any agreements." 


Former MSU Director of Athletics Larry Templeton, who is now a paid consultant for the SEC, stressed in a phone interview Tuesday with The Dispatch that no decisions have been made that would determine a course of action for scheduling. 


"I would assume and expect everybody in the conference office would be involved in this monumental task of assigning schedules for our 16 sports," Templeton said. "Nothing has even been discussed. I've seen reports already about potential solutions, and that's all speculation that is a hundred steps closer than we are in reality." 


Stricklin, who was in Dallas for a convention for Division I athletic directors on Monday and Tuesday, doesn't anticipate more than the normal eight-game slate to be accepted by the league for the 2012 football season. 


"I don't anticipate the SEC going to a nine-game league schedule anytime soon, so our focus remains on finding a non-conference foe to round out the 2012 MSU football slate," Stricklin said.



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