July 5, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Dan Mullen''s idea of a vacation is being able to kick back on the beach and enjoy reading a good book.
That''s what Mississippi State''s football coach tried to do as he and his family took a week off from football for a little rest and relaxation.
It all changes when Mullen returns to Starkville later this week.
He will trade in his novel for the playbook.
"When we get back, it shuts down into 100 percent football," Mullen said.
Before and after spring practice, Mullen spent quite a bit of time on the road promoting the MSU football program, including the Road Dawgs Tour that made a stop in Columbus.
Once two-a-day practices begin, Mullen will devote all of his time to getting the Bulldogs ready for the season-opener against Jackson State on Sept. 5.
"You are always selling your program, but once two-a-days start my public relation tours stop," Mullen said. "We will have sold our tickets by that point and hopefully the next thing is go win football games. If we win football games, the program will sell itself."
Mullen put MSU through a crash-course with the Spread offense during spring practice.
Now that the Bulldogs are familiar with the Spread, Mullen said two-a-days will be a time to tweak the direction as they move forward into the season.
Some of the decisions Mullen and his staff will make over the next few weeks will be how much no-huddle they want to use, how much shotgun and so on.
Mullen calls it "trimming away the fat" from the playbook.
"We threw it all in and now we''re going to cut it back a bunch to the things we want to do," Mullen said. "In the spring, we had days where we went all no-huddle and the next day it was all huddle. We''re still going to evaluate all of that, but are really going to clean it up."
The playbook serves as a reference guide for the coaches and remains a valuable tool for Mullen.
There will be a measure of uncertainty going into the season exactly how the Bulldogs will be able to manage Mullen''s newly-installed Spread offense.
Mullen knows it may not be an immediate success and it could be several weeks into the season before MSU can identify what works best. He had to adapt as an offensive coach at Florida and Bowling Green and anticipates doing the same with the Bulldogs.
"You are always going to have to tweak it," Mullen said. "To be honest, we might not know until week four or five. You might have a thought early and see something really click, then you can work with the team and take off.
"You continue to follow that path and it may lead you in a different direction than you thought."