What mattered to Mullen was, again in his own word, the "sloppy" nature of some periods. This might still have reflected more the increased expectations of a Mississippi State squad that has done satisfactory work up to now. And, the veteran nature of this spring's squad in all areas.
Following the session Mullen took questions with responses following, including one way-too-early question about next week's spring game from, of course, a TV sportscaster who overlooked that there is a Saturday scrimmage to be played out first at Scott Field (11:00am).
What was your overall opinion of today? "To me I was kind of disappointed, a sloppy practice today. Installation is pretty much over so there are a lot of guys, to me, especially young guys who have to understand how serious it is if they want to get on the field and go play. Older guys, you see them go execute and do things."
"But the young guys have got to understand the time commitment that they have to put in on their own. We only get 15 practices out here and the time they have to put in on their own to know what they're doing when they get out here. The extra studying. They can't just show up here and expect to learn everything at practice and then hey, we'll see you two days from now or I'll see you tomorrow at the meeting, I spent my time in the meeting and go home and not do the extra things. So there's the little mental errors that disappointed me at this point with a lot of young guys."
Joe Morrow seemed to have a good day with three touchdowns? "Well, I see drops. I saw him drop two though. I don't always notice the good, I'm looking at the stuff we have to fix."
"He did OK, I mean he made some plays. Here's the thing, if you have opportunities to go make plays you have to make them. And that's really going to determine how much you play next year. We talk about that, everybody out here. There's a lot of guys that have already made plays in games. So a lot of times you don't see us put them in situations. Scrimmages, who wins, who loses, guys do stuff…I don't know in the end how real it is or what an indication it is. Because you're really looking to accomplish or put guys in situations to see if they're ready to go make the play. So I guess if he had three touchdowns that's pretty good; in my mind he should have five then!"
Expectations are high for the receivers and cornerbacks since they're veterans? "Absolutely. You know, one of the things though that is hard here is, as a coach you want to see really well-executed football. I mean that is what you want to see. Again, you talk like who wins or who does what; what you want is to see clean execution. And that should be a great battle, receivers and corners both with a lot of experience and opportunities to come out here and showcase what they can do. It shouldn't be having to make tons of corrections, they should know what they're doing. They should be getting better at doing it every single practice."
There was a lot of red zone and two minute work, is this the time of camp to do that? "Well it was. Today we put two-minute in for the first time. Red zone we've had in and wanted to kind of review that for the scrimmage Saturday, get another day at it. But a lot of good situational teaching out here on the field today, a bunch of mistakes made."
"As minor, little mistakes of things that we can get corrected, but it's great to get them taught and cover things out here on the field. If you don't play those game situations sometimes as a coach you say I know that, but I didn't cover every detail of it, of everything that could happen out there on the field. It's critical. So a lot of things to teach, not just the plays but the situations that are important for them to learn."
What do you like from Richie Brown, he got a lot of time last year? "That's what we expect out of him. We want to have a 1A and a 1B defense, we want to have 22 starters on defense. They get treated as if they're starters and we expect them to play as a starter for us."
"Richie has done a good job, he has good leadership, has good knowledge of the defense. And I think he's becoming much more of a natural play-maker. Instead of thinking and just trying to do his job he knows what to do and he's making plays. And that's the development of a player that you want to see."
With just so many practice days what can you do about the little mistakes? "It's everything. We address it here out on the field, cover it in meetings. But a lot of these things now they've got to go…to me a mistake that we correct, I have no problem with guys making mistakes; don't make the same mistake two or three times over."
"And mental errors, there are three types of learning. Knowing how to do it, when to do it, and why we do it. You can control the what, that's just you sitting there studying and knowing what to do. How to do it, we've got to coach all of those things in technique. Why to do it tells you then everybody understands the program. But to me the what to do is really an investment by the young guys out here on the field, studying and getting their nose in the playbook and processing information."
Do senior leaders get in the ear of younger players on those things? "Absolutely. I mean they do it by position group. And guys do it. And we're on the seniors a lot about how they handle situations. Their job is to make sure the performance of their group is at a very high level."
What are you looking for going into next week and the spring game? "Well, the spring game is fun. It's celebration, these guys get to go. I want to see 30,000 people there. You can print that and put that the demand is out, that's your job to make sure 30,000 people are at that spring game, set the record! We've got a new stadium, right? They should be coming in to see it. We got an exciting year, finished on three straight wins, we want 30,000 people there. But I want 30,000 people there so I can put some guys in situations that maybe haven't been in situations before, that might get put into them this year and (we) want them to be able to handle it."
What did you like from the first scrimmage and what do you want to see Saturday? "I want to see us do everything a little bit better this week than we did last week. I don't care if you're a fifth-year senior or you're a redshirt freshman. You've taken a step forward in one little detail of the game. The other one is to see a clean scrimmage. That's always hard I guess right now because if the defense has a great day is it great defense, bad offense? I want to see good football and guys making plays using great technique. That's important to see that in game situations in the scrimmage."
The defensive line returns a lot of girth and experience? "It's kind of neat, you get P.J. (Jones) and Kaleb (Eulls) really doing minimum, two starters inside doing minimum this spring. It really put a lot of pressure on other guys getting reps. But that's a position you need to be able to roll them through. We've got to be eight to ten deep on the D-line to get through games. So the fact that guys are getting a lot of reps gives us the opportunity to get a deep and talented D-line."
A Notebook from Thursday's practice is to be filed later.