Mullen Evaluates State's Friday Scrimmage

He gets to pick which side won, and which side runs. So Coach Dan Mullen has a general judgment on any scrimmage. His problem today? "I don't know that I ever get to be really happy after a scrimmage. But we'll watch it on film and evaluate whether it was good defense or bad offense today."

Based on how the offensive team was held behind for a lot of wind-sprinting following a two-and-a-half-hour scrimmage, the outcome was easy enough to judge. It was a defensive Dog day in Mississippi State's first serious scrimmage day of spring camp. (See scrimmage story for details.)

Afterwards, Mullen gave some quick impressions of Friday's work, beginning with a general evaluation.

"Good and bad. I'm not real pleased with the offense today. I want to see cleanness, I want to see consistency. I didn't see a lot of penalties, not a lot of turnovers which is good. But I think we only had four of our 13 drives get more than one first down. And you can't have that. That's not moving the ball, that's not playing the field position game. So obviously the defense really dominated today."

Q: What did you see from the young guys playing in the secondary? "When you have some seniors to learn from, guys that have played for a bunch of years in front of you, I think that really can raise the level of play of the twos. Because the expectations at that position are very, very high."

Q: What did you think of quarterback play? "It was OK. I thought Tyler was sloppy at times today, he didn't have his best day of the spring. But there are a lot of positives in what he is doing and the steps that he is taking and improving. Just in leadership, I thought if anything was down today it was in leadership was a big thing. I think he was really thinking and trying to play, and not be a leader today."

Q: Josh Robinson ran the ball hard? "Yeah, the backs looked OK running the ball. I thought we were sloppy at times on the O-line, you know, so that didn't look great. But we'll see the backs when we watch the film how well they hit the holes."

Q: What did the defense have to do with the offense's play? "We'll watch it on film, I guess. As a head coach I can be happy maybe the defense did better than the offense. Or, I can be really sad that the offense didn't do that good. I don't know that I ever get to be really happy after a scrimmage. But we'll watch it on film and evaluate whether it was good defense or bad offense today."

Q: It looked as if the offense had trouble getting to the edge, was that good pursuit? "Yeah, we're always going to run to the football. This league is based on speed, you've got to have that speed to get to the ball, to contain the ball. Our defense guys played hard today, and when they got some momentum they really picked up their play even more."

Q: It seems depth-wise the second defense is pretty close to the first? "We've still got a ways to go developing guys. But we're getting there. That is what you really need. You watch the top teams in this league, they're two and three deep guys rolling in on game day. So we want to get to that point eventually. And you're starting to see guys get there. That's to me where I don't know if we have starters, it's guys that earn playing time. And I'd love to have 25 to 30 guys that earn playing time on our defense."

Q: Shane McCardell had some good plays getting to the quarterback and breaking up passes? "Yeah, and fifth-year seniors have to play their best. We need those guys to step up. He's a senior this year and we expect him to have his best year here."

Q: Are you happy how the offense moved in two-minute drill? "Yeah, the one offense, Tyler had a throw and just missed the throw there to win the game. You're not going to get a second chance, and the second time we ran it they were covered. So I was pretty pleased with how efficient we were moving the ball down the field in the two-minute situation on offense. And the twos finishing it off with a score, the ones putting it in a position to have an opportunity to win the game."

Q: How did you like the wildcat plays run today? "Those guys have just got to get used to it, to see it. And unless you do it live a lot, you've got to get used to reading holes and how they are hitting it. We just put a little base stuff in for them. But I'm pleased with how they're handling it. The great thing, both Chad and Jaemon were high school quarterbacks, so being in that position is not a real change for them."

Q: How is Russell handling his first spring being ‘the man'? "I think great. He has handled his whole development his whole time here. He never let the perception and all the outside, I guess junk effect his development the whole time he's been here. He's continually improved how you want guys to. And he's never let any distractions get to him, he's really progressed from year to year."

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