Mullen Reports On Tuesday's Morning Practice

Goodness knows the team is kept running all day. So why not their coach? No wonder then "Lunch was quick," reported Dan Mullen. "There's about fifty billion other things I have to do, so you do lunch while you're running around."

How many billion tasks Dan Mullen can address this afternoon remains to be seen. Job One though is continuing the intense practice pace as Mississippi State kicked off the two-a-day phase of training camp this morning.

Kicked it off late, too, as a morning rainstorm delayed Bulldog reporting to their South Farm facility. So Mullen was running over 90 minutes late for the scheduled meeting with media...just another of those 50 billion to-do items.

"It was a good day today. At times I thought the defense was playing well, I'm happy with that. But you kind of expect that sometimes when you're installing, in a phase where the defense has some good stuff in and on offense we're installing plays more than game-planning. There's looks that you wouldn't call certain plays maybe against, but we're just getting it installed right now."

"But effort was good today. It was a nice, cool day out there, with no sun so I think that helped."

Q: Do you worry about that with this ‘Big Ten weather' you're having the last two days? "If you ever lived up north, we're not getting Big Ten weather! Just because it's not 120 degrees out there doesn't mean it's (not) hot! But if you went out and checked the heat index out on our field today and up in Minnesota it would probably still be a little bit warmer down here."

"But it doesn't worry me. I love being hot for mental toughness of our team, but our guys worked hard all summer, Matt (Balis) puts them through workouts, I think we have some good mental toughness. We just have to get used to playing in it. The first game is going to be a night game, so really I guess whenever we play Auburn is the first time we'll be out there in potentially hot weather for a game. We'll have plenty of hot opportunities before then."

Q: For two-a-days will your schedule be different? "Usually we're a little bit more run-emphasis in the morning and a little bit more pass emphasis in the afternoon. But it never goes strictly one way or the other, it's just a little bit more of an emphasis."

"And we have a couple of hours to check the weather, it changes a lot. We actually delayed things a little bit this morning by about forty minutes, just because of the weather coming through."

Q: Do you try to tone down the contact in two-a-days? "We just go. It's a contact sport."

Q: You've mentioned needing more depth on defense, are there any particular positions? "Just the d-line. It is a critical depth position for us. And we have some young guys, but I'd say if there is a spot on the team where we're short guys we have to make up for in recruiting, it's on the d-line."

Q: Robert Elliott has had some rough times, what things would you like to see from him? "He's done great. Robert has bought into everything we've asked him to do and he's done a fabulous job of doing that. To me he's had a very, very successful career here up to this point, hopefully it continues. That's what we look for, guys that believe in the program, but into the program and reach their potential. Robert has worked hard to do that."

Q: With Nick Griffin recovering and freshmen behind him, what role do you see for Elliott? "A lot of the same stuff he's done in the past. I thought he did a good job for us last year and expect him to do the same this year."

Q: From what you've seen early are you closer to having depth at receiver you've wanted? "I think we're certainly getting there. The hard thing is the balance, there's still not a senior on the squad at the receiver position. But the problem in that, also in recruiting, is the thing that can get you in trouble is all of a sudden two years from now we're going to have four or five of them walking out the door and you're going to have to balance out."

"So we have to do a good job of recruiting and balancing out the depth at the receiver position. When we got here there was none, so we had to recruit a bunch and those guys had to play. So now we've got to get a balance throughout the recruiting classes."

Q: A year ago Ballard and Perkins were both new; now they're both proven. Is there good competition between them this camp at tailback? "I don't know if it's a huge competition. Because I think they know they're going to split time. Like (all) positions, the more you do the more playing time you earn. So they know if they continue to work they can earn themselves playing time and have the opportunity to get the ball in their hands."

Q: With the pads on have some freshmen started that downturn? "They're starting to swim a little bit now. I mean, we're in installation three, we have that for practice this afternoon. And they're doing OK."

"But I think all of a sudden, tomorrow is where you start to see it with freshmen. With the fourth installation, you'll call a play you put in day-one or day-two and they're like, ‘what are you talking about? My legs have never been so tired, I've never been this exhausted, everybody is really fast out here on the field'."

"That is when you kind of hit the wall, to me, as a freshman. The guys that are going to play are going to find a way to battle through it and continue to go hard. Improve on some little things and not let the big picture of it all overwhelm them."

Q: Has anyone hit the wall? "I don't know, I'm sure throughout practice they all hit the wall at times. I mean, two tailbacks run into each other going the wrong way, a receiver completely goes the wrong way and runs into somebody, the offensive line pulls the wrong way; the two safeties both roll back to the middle of the field and nobody covers anybody on defense. I think you see all of that stuff as it starts to get fast, as the older guys start to really settle in, and the younger guys are just mistakes all over the place."

"But the difference to me is, are you making a mistake full-speed?"

Q: Is Perkins a guy you worry about giving too much too early? "Nah, he knows the system. So to me that's it. Now, when we get into special teams that's when the competition starts to pick up. When you have a Jameon Lewis now who is a dynamic guy with the ball in his hands, there's some competition for return guys."

"There's only so many touches in the course of a game and everybody wants the ball. So, now we have some guys who can do something with it, it's a little bit more competition out there. I think it keeps everybody improving."

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