"We Keep You Tuned In For Four Quarters"

Coach Dan Mullen took a quick look at the stat sheet, but maybe he was thinking about ratings more than yardage as he discussed Mississippi State's 24-17 SEC win over Kentucky. A win that wasn't assured until a sealing interception at 0:31. "Well, pretty good for ratings for ESPNU! We keep you tuned-in for all four quarters!"

"Give Kentucky credit, they did a great job of controlling the tempo of the game, controlling the clock, keeping us off the field. We didn't execute very cleanly on offense at times. You hear me say a herky-jerky offense, that's what it was. We made some big plays, and some really bad plays. There were opportunities to make some bigger plays and we missed some; we had some fumbled snaps, we missed some open receivers down the middle of the field. But, we came away with the win and that's the most important thing as I look at the stats."

"It felt like we had a lot more than four penalties on us, I really did. I guess that's good. I'm going to study up on my pass interference and get that coached-up and fixed, so not many more of those calls go against us that way, get our guys coached-up."

"We did a good job taking care of the football. Oh, yeah, we did have one…(on the interception and fumble). I guess that counts as a turnover, they were going to decline the penalty so we weren't going to keep the ball anyway."

"But I'm proud of the way our kids battled. That's what we are. Our fans did an unbelievable job tonight, the excitement and the atmosphere they created in the stadium kept the energy of this team going for four quarters. That's what we asked them to do, I think they did a great job. I don't hear a cowbell on the field ever so I think they did a fabulous job respecting that, making noise and cheering for the team for four quarters like we asked them to. So hopefully we complied with that deal, I can't imagine how we didn't."

"I'm just so proud of our team, the way they continue to believe in each other and continue to make plays. And we'll go enjoy this bye week."

Q: 85 plays by the defense, yet they still have enough the last series to hold up? "Yeah, they did a great job getting rushing. We played a lot of players on defense, we rolled them through at different times. We took a timeout there at the end because they said everybody out there was getting a little bit tired; we took a timeout to get everybody to catch their breath.

"But we made the final play at the end we need to make, and that was huge. And it's good that we have a bye week now after 85 plays, they're going to need some time off."

Q: How big was the punting of Heath Hutchins? "It's huge. Heath has done it the whole year for us. He shanked the one punt which was bad, but he comes up at a critical time with a 63-yarder. That's what you need. But he's been pretty clutch for us all season long and when we needed that big play on special teams he's really, really boosted us."

Q: How would you evaluate Chris Relf's performance? "Well, I'll evaluate it tomorrow when I get to watch the film. He did some nice things. He missed a couple of reads, he missed a couple of open receivers. But he did some decent things as the game went on."

Q: Besides Hutchins, can you talk about the job done in covering since Randall Cob had minus yardage on punts? "Yeah, that was good. A lot of the hang time helps. And we stress to our guys, there is a role for everybody on our team and guys have bought into that. It's not just about making a play at one time, it's four quarters; offense, defense, special teams, we have to play as a team. And when your number is called you have to go make a play. Heath did that, guys on punt coverage did that.

"Chad Bumphis has a big kick return to give us some momentum and flip field position, and did a nice job for the most part on punt returns…was he in the end zone? Yeah. We're going to get a GPS system for our guys to figure out where the heck they are on the field! But when guys needed to step up, they stepped up and made plays. Now, there were a lot of plays we could have made in that game, but when we needed one a lot of people stepped up and made them."

Q: Did Vick Ballard kind of set a tone with his touchdown run? "Well, they know we're a run-the-ball team. They loaded up the box well. And it was good to still run for over 200 yards, right around our average. That's where we want to be, what we have to is clean up our pass game. I don't want to change it to just 214 yards a game running, I just want it to be over 200 passing as well. And running only 58 plays, we have to pick up the tempo. We were a little lethargic at times there on offense and we have to pick up the tempo."

Q: Relf seemed to take charge on the last touchdown drive? "He expects to make plays. Chris expects to make the plays. We probably should have played Tyler (Russell) a little bit more, we wanted to do that and we put him in the third series to roll him. We had a chance to put him in another series, we had set to do that and didn't which is my fault. I want to keep him going and keep his development, and he does a good job keeping it balanced and he can really throw the football.

"But Chris, when the game is on the line, we seemed to make the drive. They tied it up 17-17 and we answered right away with a scoring drive. If you want to step up on offense that is the time to step up and make the plays."

Q: Your defense was on the field 85 plays but only allowed one drive into the red zone? "Special teams, we do a good job keeping them pinned. And a little bit of bend but don't break. The offense certainly didn't help the cause with as many three-and-outs as we had, that's by far our most three-and-outs we've had the whole season. And we have to move the ball a little bit to give them a little bit more of a breather. But that's a team we played that's had a bunch of fourth quarter comebacks and made close games against all the top teams in this league. To find a way to win is huge for us."

"I always want to see us be a better team from week-to-week. K.J. Wright and Chris White, you're not going to see huge difference in them week to week, they're developed football players. The differences you're going to see is the young guys that have the opportunity to make big jumps as they continue to develop through the year."

Q: How key is it to have a six-game winning streak going into a bye week? "It puts a big smile on their faces. Sunday when you go into the office to watch this film and grade it after a win you always leave with a smile on your face. No matter how many things we need to improve, which is a lot, it always leaves a big smile on your face. And we'll enjoy it, I promise you that. We'll enjoy this bye week and get ourselves healthy and get rested and get ready to go to Tuscaloosa in a couple of weeks."

Q: With seven wins do you feel you have the chance to control your own destiny and make a run at the Gator Bowl or Outback Bowl or something like that? "Umm, we're trying to make a run at Atlanta! There's still a lot of football left to be played and if we win out, two losses, we're still technically live in the SEC West? That's our focus right now."


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