Mullen: "The Key Is How You Respond"

BATON ROUGE -- "A tough loss. The kids played hard out there for us tonight. That's not good enough, we're here to win football games. For us there are little errors you can see along the way, mistakes we made that we have to get corrected to continue to move forward and put ourselves in a position to win these type of games."

"When you play a team that is in the top ten, you cannot make those mistakes on the road and expect to win football games. Some of the mistakes were critical errors tonight. Those type of things don't get it done." The defense, especially before halftime, how critical was that breakdown? "It was huge. We went down and scored, and we were going to get the ball to start the second half. So we were in good position. We had blown coverage, not on the touchdown play, we had a blown coverage on the long pass down the sideline. We were supposed to have a safety right there over the top, he wasn't there over the top, we give up a huge play."

"And really it shouldn't happen. We should have been in position to go into halftime and not give up that touchdown. I guess right there, at the end of the game you're talking a whole different scenario, you're talking about it being a six-point ball game. That's one of the critical errors we made during the course of the game."

What did you do with the run game without LaDarius Perkins? "At times we did OK. We didn't put up the numbers, but we were throwing the football. When we fell behind we were in a position to have to throw, and I think we kind of continually put ourselves in that position to have to throw the ball an awful lot. We weren't as balanced obviously as you'd like to be, but that happens as the result of the score in the games."

Was Perkins able to play tonight. "He strained his quad in Wednesday's practice. So they treated it for the last couple of days, and he was out in warmups and running around in warmups. But we looked and he didn't feel comfortable. I think he wanted to go but we made the decision not to let him go tonight."

Besides the two late sacks did the offensive line play better? "Yeah. Your statement there really defines a lot of the game. I thought a lot of guys did a lot of things very very well. I can pinpoint a mistake here, as we talked about in the locker room everybody can look at themselves and point at something that we could have done better in the course of that game."

"I have to inspect myself, our offensive staff, our defensive staff. Every player in the game can point at themselves. The key in this is how you respond from it, you know? It's how you respond and do we make ourselves better this week, not just to practice but on the field next Saturday."

Were the routes shorter this week or Russell throwing sooner? "No, they were called. He made some nice checks on his own to change the play at the line of scrimmage. I saw him doing that a bunch. And we give him the freedom to do that. It certainly helps having an experienced quarterback and experienced receivers, especially in this environment, to give them that flexibility to just change at the line of scrimmage on certain looks. And he did that several times."

The 80-yard drive to make it 30-17, was the defensive line wearing down as they pounded at you? "Yeah, to be honest I thought at times our defense held up good. I don't know if it was that because we stopped them the next time. I think it's those little things. You're going to go watch the film and you're probably going to say there is the issue on that play; there is the issue on that play. And those are little things guys have to learn. I mean Charles Siddoway plays a good play; we give up a sack. Josh Boyd plays a good play sometimes, then we fit a wrong gap on a snap."

"Give them credit, their kids played; their star players made big plays at key moments of the game. And that's what star players, that's why they are a good football team."

After slow starts the last two games you marched for an opening touchdown? "Yeah, that was something we improved on. To be honest I thought we played a lot better this week than last week, I was really disappointed in our effort last week. So we challenged our guys, I thought we had a good week of practice. And we improved. Now obviously to the extent we need to to win games."

"But that's going to be a big point. Good football teams continually improve throughout the year. They're better in November than they were in September and October. And if we want to finish this and finish off what could be a good-to-great season, we need to improve this week and come out and perform at a higher level next Saturday."

Were you alternating safeties looking for coverage of the inside routes? "Yeah, we rotated guys through. When you know they're going to be a physical bunch we're going to rotate players. That's one thing I think I've tried to stress with our coaches, is make sure we get in there and rotate players in the course of the game. And I think we rotated a bunch of different guys tonight on both sides of the ball."

After a couple of rough games Russell bounced back? "Yeah, I was really happy with how he played tonight. I thought minus the interception at the end of the game, where we were trying to make a play to put ourselves I position to win, I thought he managed the game very well; got us into the right plays, made a lot of big plays. He even ran the ball for 15 yards. I thought he did what we needed him to do to be a big-time quarterback."

Have you seen a stretch as tough as the last three? "Sure. It's called the Southeastern Conference. I've seen it before as a head coach, I've seen it plenty as an assistant coach, and I've seen it watching other people before we go play on Saturday. That is what separates this conference from other conferences. Where are we, five teams in the top eight in the country and nobody has even five teams in the top 25 I don't think? That's what you sign on for and why kids want to play in this league, that's why coaches want to coach in this league. You want to play against the best and that's what we have here in the Southeastern Conference."

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