Knox Knows Auburn, Mullen Says

Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen gives his comments on this week's SEC opener at Auburn.

Starkville, Miss.--Dan Mullen says that his Mississippi State Bulldogs should have a good scouting report on Auburn's players thanks to his running backs coach, Greg Knox.

Auburn's wide receiver coach for the past 10 years, Knox was not retained by new AU head coach Gene Chizik, but was not off the job market long as he signed on with Mullen at Mississippi State as running backs coach.

"Number one, he knows the personnel," says Mullen, who made the move from offensive coordinator at Florida to head coach at Mississippi State for the 2009 season. "I think he recruited a lot of young guys who are there. He knows their personnel and some of their depth, and how talented of a team they are to really tell our kids how talented a team they are.

Greg Knox

"He also has a lot of experiences and can explain to our kids what we are getting into--the atmosphere we are going to go into and the challenges we have to face," Mullen adds.

Mississippi State brings a 1-0 record to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday for a 6 p.m. kickoff in the league opener for both teams. State opened the season with a 45-7 victory over Jackson State and Auburn defeated Louisiana Tech 37-13 in the debut of Gene Chizik as head coach of the Tigers.

"We are looking forward to it," Mullen says of the matchup vs. the Tigers. "I know our guys had a big, big physical practice yesterday. You know that transition from week one being kind of an in-state, rival, non-conference game you have to switch gears to a major transition to focus on what is real important, which right now is a Southeastern Conference game and the excitement. This is what you work for--the excitement of being able to play one of these games.

"Obviously, we are playing a team that is going to be much, much improved," Mullen says of Auburn. "We watched their explosiveness on offense last week, what they did with the ball with their no huddle scheme and how fast they go make them tough to prepare for.

"The other thing you see is they have certainly not lost a step in the tradition of playing great defense at Auburn," he says. "We are going to have our hands full.

"We are hoping to make a lot of improvement from where we were last week to this week as a team now that we have had that first game," Mullen notes. "We had a lot of young players in that first game. We got that under their belt and we are ready to move on and improve."

Mississippi State has 16 players on its roster from the state of Alabama including quarterback Chris Relf, who was his team's leading rusher in game one with 82 yards. Relf also passed for 75 yards splitting time with Tyson Lee.

"He is a great athlete, starting off, at quarterback," Mullen says of Relf, who is from Carver of Montgomery. "He has really worked hard. I can't tell you how much he has improved since my first day here. He struggled, even in his whole throwing motion. We had to clean up a whole lot of things.

"He has really worked hard at not just being an athlete, but becoming a quarterback. I think that showed a little bit last week. He completed 70 percent of his passes and had three touchdowns, and he did a lot things. He gives you that extra aspect of being a great athlete back there."

Mullen says his debut as a head coach went well last Saturday. "It was more than what I expected," he says. "Getting off the bus for the Dawg Walk was unbelievable, just the masses of people turning out and the support that we had. Just the atmosphere we had, having the third largest crowd in school history there to support the team, was just unbelievable. Our guys came out and played real hard.

"Really, it was a dream come true," he adds. "It was a big opportunity to be a head football coach and to win your first game is an unbelievable feeling."

Saturday's Tigers vs. Bulldogs matchup will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Net South.

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