Mullen: "This Is Not An Upset"

"That is a great, great team win. By a bunch of young men that when I came here two years ago we said we were going to get a plan of success and through hard work you could achieve a lot of things if you really work as hard as you can. That's what our team did tonight. They worked hard and played a great team football game."

"We were able to run the ball some, I thought we were able to control the tempo a little bit. We didn't throw the ball very well, probably needed to make some more plays on offense. And we're going to have to down the road. We can play much better than we did tonight."

"But I tell you what, our defense was playing well and we were doing a decent job in the kick game, and we were able to run the ball some. So that's what we stuck with and it worked out. I kept telling our players, these are the type of games we need to make plays and at the end we made the plays we needed to make. We held them out for that final score."

Q: Did you imagine a 10-0 lead after one quarter would hold up? "Absolutely not! I'm really disappointed in myself. We stopped them on a big fourth down and all of a sudden we try to change our personality and throw, throw, throw, throw. Instead of keeping our balance right there for those three plays. I felt we needed to score that, and I told our offense before that last drive we needed one more score. In the fourth quarter I looked up and said we need one more score, 10-7 and had just given them the ball in their territory. After we missed that field goal. I walked over to everybody on the offense and said you need one more touchdown to win this game."

"Fortunately we drove down the field and did a great job in the punt game to get them pinned and our defense held up to make the final plays when they needed to."

Q: You ruined Florida's homecoming? "I said all week I've had success in this stadium. And I told our team, this is not an upset. Our team expected to win this football game."

Q: Are you a little emotional? "Yeah. I'm so proud of our kids, so proud of our kids. A lot of these kids when I recruited them they believed in something to come to school here. They believed in what we had a vision of what we could make this program in the future. The guys that were already in the program we met with them and gave them a vision of what could happen."

"And hopefully this is the start of some good things to come. We have a long way to go. We've equaled last year's win total, we want to be a better team. So we still have a long way to go."

Q: How big was that last drive to run the block and pin them back? "It was huge. I would have liked to have drove down and punched it in. We had some silly penalties that really killed our drives so you can see we have a lot of things to improve on and can get a lot better as a football team. And they're learning experiences by our young kids. I mean, our receiver position, our oldest player is a true sophomore. They made some mistakes and hopefully they learn from those mistakes. Because down the road in this program they're going to continue to play in bigger games as we move forward and they have to continue to push."

Q: What were you thinking on the field goal? "What did I think? Chas Henry is a heck of a player, he's probably the best punter in the United States and because of injuries he's forced to do their placekicking. It just shows the talent he has that he could transfer over and do both."

"We were getting an overtime plan ready, and our defense did a good job just holding on enough and making it a far enough field goal that it wasn't a gimme. Boy, I don't know, maybe shock when I saw him miss? All of a sudden (I'm like) how fast can I get our players off the field, how fast can we take that knee and see zeroes on the clock, that was what was going through my mind."

Q: You only passed the ball once after the three-and-out in the second quarter? "Yeah, for a negative five yards, too, we crushed our average! The reason is we were running the football. I think we were pretty successful running the football and keeping the ball in the second half. I felt if we could keep running it and keep running it…I mean it was starting to inch into my brain ‘one more first down and let's take a shot and try to ice the game', like we did against Georgia. Thank goodness I thought better of it. And then getting a couple of penalties and getting forced back, at that point we wanted to milk as much time as we could and pin them back deep."

Q: What did you think of the game Manny Diaz called? "Manny did a fabulous job, he did a great job. Give Florida some credit, they made some great adjustments at halftime coming out and being able to drive the ball the second half. We were able to adjust to that, weather the storm, bend a little bit, don't break."

"I looked and it was third down, here we go Manny, this is why we brought you here. You've got one call to go win a game in the Swamp for Mississippi State. I said they might run, they might pass; and he looked and said ‘you think?' I closed my mouth and walked away. And he did a heck of a job."

Q: How crucial was Heath Hutchins' having the punt downed at the four-yard line before their last series? "It was huge. He's been great all year, he did a great job getting it off. Florida is known for blocking kicks, we had to do a great job getting kicks off. He had a couple of touchbacks earlier but I'll live with that, he gave our guys a chance and the ball just rolled into the end zone. But at the key moment of the game he came up big. That's what players do, that's that competitive excellence. When their number is called at the critical moment of the game they step up and make their biggest play."

Q: Vick Ballard did not have his biggest game but did he show people something tonight? "What did he rush for? 98? 98! He shouldn't have hurt himself on that last drive, he would have gotten his 100!"

"He started looking exhausted, (running backs coach) Greg Knox said we've got to get him out for a couple of plays. But I do think Vick ran the ball very hard, he's a physical runner. He didn't break any big runs, we only had 245 yards offense and that's not a huge night, and for us to continue to win down the road we're going to need make some bigger plays. Our longest plays were 18 rush and 30 pass, there weren't lots of the. So we're going to have to make some big plays in the future. And hopefully open some things up some more."

"But the number-one stat, the number-one stat to me, is the win. I'll take a win whether it's 10-7 or 59-58, the win is the number-one stat."

Q: What did you say to Urban Meyer? "Just good luck. For me, that's a guy that's kind of been my mentor and helped me a lot in coaching to get here. For the last two years we've had to play him, so now I think it might be a little easier to make that call for some advice knowing they're off the schedule!"

Q: Did the tempo of the game help the offensive line hold up, since you played just five guys and did not have J.C. Brignone? "I don't know, those guys grind away. Hopefully they only have to push about five yards and drop back and get a little breather. One of the reasons we don't huddle is they don't have very far to go, they can just turn around and get on the ball! We'd talked about that; do we want to huddle and the offensive line said absolutely not!

"We were fortunate J.C. didn't have to play tonight. If it had been an emergency situation he could have played, talking to our trainers the discussion was if we could avoid playing him, he'd be 100% for next week. So we were fortunate not to have to play him."

Q: Did you expect Florida to score more than seven points? "Not against our defense. You know what, to me I think we went in and wanted to make this a defensive battle. They have tremendous talent and skill on their team, they have guys that can score from anywhere on the football field. One of the things we wanted to do was control the tempo of the game, slow the game down a little bit, and try to grind it out and make it an old-school, knock ‘em back football game instead of a track meet out there. So I think we were able to do that. We forced our tempo over maybe what they wanted to do."

Q: It was the same offense they ran when you were here? "They were doing a lot of different things, though. I mean, they're a different team now. We're a very different offense at Mississippi State than I was at Florida. So you're always going to tweak to your strengths. They had a good night; I don't know how many yards we gave up. Boy am I blind! 361? We did a good job, we created two turnovers, we didn't turn the ball over, we're plus-two turnover ratio. They missed two field goals, we missed one which you can't have happen. But when it comes down to all those little things that our guys executed well, we get a team win. That was a bigger factor than their ability to score points."

Q: Talk about Chris White's ability to get in their backfield? "That was huge, I mean, making plays. You know, when we got here I said we're close a lot of times, we're just not making that final play. We told our players tonight was our night to go make all those plays. Tonight was our night to do that and we did. We made all the plays we needed to do and it's a great win for us."

"But we need to get back to work. We need to be a much better football team tomorrow at practice than when we left this football field."

After the formal interview, Mullen called MSU beat media over to tell a story from this week:

"Wednesday I get home about 9:00 and I didn't go get dinner at the cafeteria. So I called home thinking maybe there'd be something good, but we have 19-month old at home. So "what's for dinner at the house; Megan said it's looking like hot dog and mac-and-cheese!" So I said don't worry about me and I called John Clark and said want to go to the Chinese takeout and get you me and some Chinese food. He does that. I don't usually eat my fortune cookie but it was there and I like the fortunes! So I opened it up and read it. It said ‘you're heading south to experience much happiness'. So I looked at that and figured I'd better eat my cookie and make sure it comes true, it's still in my wallet right."


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