Tuesday Bulldog Post-Practice Conference

Following Tuesday's practice, Coach Dan Mullen met with media to go over preparations for the weekend SEC West matchup with Arkansas in Little Rock.

Q: Did Chris Relf practice today? "No. It's one of those deals we have to make sure he's symptom-free. Talking to trainers they expect him to play but for safety reasons we want to make sure he's symptom-free."

Q: What are your impressions of the Arkansas defense? "They cause problems for you, with all the multiple looks. One thing that impresses you is how sound they are as players, how they fit with as much defenses as they run and as multiple as they are that they still execute very, very well. And that's the challenge. Because they're going to confuse you in a lot of different ways, but they still execute at a high level."

Q: Who do you use at practice to simulate Jarius Wright and Joe Adams and other receivers? "Yeah, we use some of our guys, we try to do a little bit more good-on-good so our one-receivers are going against our one-secondary so they get that real speed look. And you take your young guys, Joe Morrow and Devin Fosselman and those guys got to give you somewhat looks of what they (the secondary) are going to see. Josh Robinson has a lot of speed, he can give you those looks."

Q: Is it important to control the clock this game against Arkansas? "They're a high-scoring offense, they're used to scoring points. But more importantly, you review last year's game; we did a great job of that and then we gave up two 70-plus yard touchdowns? I mean you're not going to do that and win a lot of games. Even if you have a great gameplan, you start giving up 70-yard chunk touchdowns it just makes it too easy on the other team. And in this league easy scores are hard to come by; when you start giving them up you put yourself in a corner."

Q: You have not given up a lot of big pass plays? "Well, I think we have a little experience in the secondary, guys that are used to being back there. Usually when you give up a big play somebody is out of position; you give up a mistake. Early in the season we gave up a bunch of points against Auburn and we had a bunch of guys out of position. That's where those scores come from."

"Usually if guys are in position you hope we're making tackles, that it's not a missed tackle or any of that stuff that can result in a big play. And we've done a good job of not being out of position."

Q: How have the kickers done this week? "Good. I don't think Derek has missed a kick in two days. But he didn't miss a kick last week either."

"He knows what it is, he just has to be in his rhythm. It's not like he's a freshman that is just completely off the wall right now. He's a guy that has been around and done it and kicked a bunch. He'll get himself righted."

Q: You joked last week about lint in his pocket or shaving, did Derek shave? "Yeah, he's all like shaved now! I joked about that, but he doesn't read what I say! What I said the other day, we can't cut him, and I told him that; he said yeah, I don't read the newspaper. I said so you know I could cut you but I can't sign a free agent, so I'm going to coach a little harder at practice!"

"He's just trying to get himself back into a rhythm of consistency. Because here's the issue, he's been very consistent PAT-field goal wise. It's not like his PAT-field goals are shanking one way or another. They're very consistent, it's just getting his rhythm back."

Q: You've been able to redshirt a lot of players, was there a temptation to play more? "Well it's always a tempting, there's a bunch of guys we'd like to get on the field. And I could look and say there are some guys we probably would be playing now some more reps if we hadn't redshirted them. But I also think for the young men, it's much better in the development of their future to do those things. And I think in the long term of our program when you do get some experience and you are able to redshirt some guys there's going to be some good things happen."

Q: Who are some of those players who might be helping? "Joe Morrow, Benardrick McKinney would be helping us. Josh Robinson, Derek Milton who is starting to me to run like he is 100% right now. Zach Jackson on special teams would probably be playing a bunch."

Q: Do you use Arkansas as an example of how to build a program, like local recruiting? "It's a huge thing. You look at all these great seniors they have right now, and all of them are from Arkansas? It's a pretty good way to start building your program, getting great players in your state to come play for you. And it's no surprise. I see Mississippi State in the same way, if all the top players in Mississippi come here to play for us that allows you to be a top-ten team nationally and to compete for national championships. They've done a good job of doing that, getting the top players in their state. But once you get that done you expand and fill in some pieces out of state. They obviously have a great senior class, some guys that have been together a long time, and decided to all come and represent their state about four or five years ago on signing day."

Q: Have you heard Arkansas might play Knile Davis this week? "I remember recruiting him out of high school. A really good player, very talented guy. Out of Sugarland High School, one of those that might not have the flash of a lot of recruits but was a really good football player. It would be a heck of a deal for them. He had a huge game against us."

Q: How would he change things? "You've got to tackle him. I mean they have some good backs, they have a lot of depth at running back. I mean, you look, they list six or seven or something in their depth chart! So they obviously have a huge stable of running backs. You just have to go wrap them up and tackle them."

"I don't know how significant an injury that is or how hard it is to come back from. I'm sure it would give an uplift to the team but I don't know how healthy he'd be. Obviously if he's 100% it would be a big plus for them."

Q: Chris Wilson said Deonte Skinner has developed most as a playmaker on defense, for work he's put in? "That's a big maturity thing. A lot of guys when they get here don't understand maybe the commitment level it takes and what our expectations of hard work is. And they have to buy into the program, to go all-in."

"You'd think it was easy because the young guys watch, and the guys that are all in the program, that are 100% committed; how they work, how they train, how they lift, their grades…they see how successful they are. Look at last year. Derek Sherrod, all-in. Pernell McPhee, all-in. K.J. Wright, Chris White, all-in. Vick Ballard, all-in. Vick on pure talent-wise not a five-star big-time recruit but all-in. And you see the success all these guys had. You'd think young guys learn that fast but it takes a year or two, sometimes three to get it figured out that if I buy all-in I'm going to be successful. Deonte Skinner is a perfect example of that. When he bought in, when you say ‘jump' he says ‘how high?' and no matter what it is he's being successful. In the classroom, in the community, and in the field."

Q: Is Cameron Lawrence another example? "Now Cam was all-in day-on he got here. And you see the success he's having. It's an amazing thing. You try to get it to the young guys but sometimes it's hard to figure out."


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