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Dispatch Pre-game Monday - Mullen talks QBs, Jackson State and playing time




Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE - In his first game-week media opportunity, Mississippi State University head coach Dan Mullen spoke about the opening week opponent Jackson State, some of the 'or' conjuctions on the preseason depth chart and what the plan might be for the Bulldogs quarterback position with Tyler Russell and Dak Prescott.  




Mullen, who began his head coaching career four years ago with a 45-7 victory against Jackson State in Davis Wade Stadium, talked at length about this week being the perfect opportunity to get younger players their first chance at game-time experience.  


"You put so much time into the offseason, so much time into spring ball and training camp and development and all that stuff, and now you get to go enjoy that reward out there on a Saturday and go play a game," Mullen said. "A lot of young guys haven't played, they want to show everybody what they can do, and there's a lot of older guys that have put in a lot of work that want to go out and reap the rewards of all their hard work over the last eight months." 


One of those younger players is freshman quarterback Dak Prescott and Mullen, along with MSU offensive coordinator Les Koenning, talked about the critical nature of getting the Louisiana native in the game to get the first-game jitters out of the way against an opponent from the Football Championship Series  


"For him the most important (things is to) get him out there, get him to call a play in the huddle in front of a big crowd on TV," Mullen said. "Get a snap, even if you've got to hand it off, whatever it is. Just go out there and function in your first play. Get that off your shoulders. I think that first play is the hardest one." 


We have that conversation all the time. On side says hey, show them everything so they are preparing for it and we can counter attack. Then some will say we hold it and surprise them, but when you surprise somebody that you mess them up which messes you all up. 


For a future feature in this week copy of The Dispatch, I asked Dan Mullen about the fact vs. myth of holding parts of gameplan back in order to not show a Week 2 opponent some plays on film.  


"We have that conversation all the time," Mullen said. "One side says 'hey, show them everything so they are preparing for it and we can counter attack.' Then some will say we hold it and surprise them, but when you surprise somebody that you mess them up which messes you all up." 




Some other nuggets gathered from Monday's media conference are as follows:  




- Mullen said MSU will likely "play several kickers this week and hopefully have the opportunity to kick extra points and kickoffs."  


The preseason depth chart has freshman Devon Bell or junior Brian Egan as the starting kicker but also walk-on Evan Sobiesk could get some opportunity throughout the contest as well. 


"You evaluate it in practice and practice is great and you have to perform in practice but there are a lot of guys who perform in practice but when those lights come on, they go in the opposite direction," Mullen said. "I want to see who's going to perform. There's a big difference in a pressure situation in practice. There's a big difference between that and 56,000 people staring at you on national television. We'll see how they respond to it and I might give a bunch of them a chance in the game." 




- After he exited the podium Mullen gave the media the injury report for the week: 


Sophomore TE Malcolm Johnson is out "for the next couple of weeks" (pectoral)  


Freshman TE Hunter Bradley is out for the season (torn ACL) 


Senior OL Templeton Hardy is doubtful (ankle) 




All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.



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