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Close isn't good enough for Mississippi State's Mullen


Danny P Smith



STARKVILLE -- There''s no silver-lining in a loss for Dan Mullen. 


Mississippi State''s football coach didn''t see anything as a positive coming out of Saturday''s 30-26 loss to seventh-ranked LSU. 


"We didn''t win the game and the most important thing is to win the game for us in the end," Mullen said on his Sunday teleconference. "We''ve preached competition since the first day, but there''s a winner and a loser. There''s really good things that happen to winners and nothing good happens when you don''t win." 


The Bulldogs had first-and-goal at the 2-yard line with a chance for a go-ahead touchdown in the final 2 minutes, but failed to score. 


Mullen said his staff didn''t work hard enough and the team didn''t play well enough to win the game and it was something that needed correcting. 


MSU (2-2, 1-2 SEC) reported for practice Sunday and started preparing for the triple-option attack of Georgia Tech. The Bulldogs play host to the Yellow Jackets at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (Comcast). 


"We just have to keep working hard," MSU senior linebacker Jamar Chaney said. "We don''t need to get complacent. A loss hurts, but it''s in the past and we have to move on. We have to get back to the drawing board and get ready for next week." 


LSU has won 10-straight games with the Bulldogs and 17 of the last 18, but MSU has been getting more competitive in the series. 


After dropping a 34-24 decision at LSU last season, the point-spread was just four points this time. 


Close is just not close enough for Mullen. 


"My experience with Mississippi State-LSU stems completely from (Saturday''s) game," Mullen said. "The gap is their players making a couple of big plays and even though we made some big plays, they made one more than we did. That''s where the gap is. We''ve got to find a way to make the big play when the game is on the line." 




No change at QB 


MSU senior Tyson Lee, of Columbus, took the majority of the snaps against LSU, but that doesn''t mean Mullen has lost faith in sophomore Chris Relf. 


Lee was 15 of 38 for 172 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, while Relf completed his only pass attempt for 46 yards. Lee rushed five times for 10 yards and Relf had two carries for 4 yards. 


Mullen said he hasn''t changed his mind about playing both quarterbacks. 


He explained Relf took a hard hit early in the game against LSU and was never able to get back into the game after that. 


"Tyson was getting us in the right plays and we were running the ball pretty well so at that point we decided to stick with him because he was in the flow of the game," Mullen said. "He threw some interceptions early, but settled down after that." 




No second-guessing 


Mullen said he wouldn''t have changed any of the calls made when the Bulldogs had first-and-goal at the 2 and didn''t score. 


After tailback Anthony Dixon ran the ball twice to inside the 1, Lee threw a pass that was batted down and ran an option keeper which came up just short of the goal line. 


"We''lI evaluate every call we make during the course of the game on offense, defense and special teams to make sure we are putting our players in a position to be successful," Mullen said. "That''s about as far as the questioning goes. As a coach, it''s not my job to second-guess. My job is to first-guess." 




Smith still waits 


Mullen had intentions to play redshirt freshman offensive guard Tobias Smith, of Columbus, against LSU, but Smith didn''t get into the game. 


Smith, who has been recovering from an ankle injury, never got into the game because of the situation. 


"When your line is able to run the ball the way we were running, you don''t need to go mix it up at that point just to change," Mullen said. "We''re hoping to play Tobias and I imagine he will play this week, but it wasn''t an injury setback or field conditions. I just think our offensive line was clicking during the course of the game." 




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