Coach Dan Mullen Monday Press Conference

“Coming off that last game, I’m pleased. To get on the road and play the way we did to find a way to win was really important for us. I don’t think we did all the things we went in and said this is what we need to do to win. We didn’t accomplish all those things, we did some to a point."

But we did a lot of other things to make up for that across the board with guys making plays to win games and put us in a position to win.”

“Obviously through the first three games of the season I’m pretty pleased with how those games turned out. We’re 3-0 and in a great position getting ready to get into conference play. Which is going to really change things up, a whole different environment. We were in a tough environment last week; it’s going to be a tougher environment playing down at LSU, on a Saturday night. Always a tough environment to go into, especially a team that brings so many weapons to the table.”

“On defense, they’ve given up seven points in the last ten quarters. That’s less than a point a quarter, so I guess if we score more a field goal we’re be doing better than what they’re giving up. They’re giving up 200 total yards, number-one defense I know in the SEC, probably in the country at this point of the season. So, obviously a huge challenge for our offense. Statistically it’s the best LSU defense I think we’ve played going into a game. So a huge challenge for us on that side of the ball.”

“On the other side of the ball they’ve got an enormous offensive line. Just wave-after-wave of enormous tailbacks to pound at you in a big, physical game. And they have the leading receiver in the SEC right now and big-play receivers. And the (Travin) Dural kid getting down the field when you load up the box to try stop that run.”

”So they’re top-ten, easily one of the best teams in the country. And playing on the road on a Saturday night is a great challenge for us. We’re going to have to come out and play at a very, very high level to find a way to win.”

In the first three weeks how much have you held back in the gameplan? “Well, a lot of stuff we’re looking at in setting up. And you’re still trying to find out who you are as a team through three weeks. So we’re still trying to find that out, I think you’re going to settle down a little bit more in conference play. We’ll experiment on some different things or just show some different looks maybe setting other things up as we move forward in conference play.”

“Our goal was to win those three games, it wasn’t like we were holding everything back. We maybe didn’t have within our plan of those three games, we looked at the personnel of who we were going against and what we wanted to try or how we wanted to attack those teams. So we still haven’t shown all of our offense yet. The same I think defensively.”

”Obviously this is a very different team so defensively we’ll be pretty different this week. The first couple of teams we played more a spread-out tempo teams. This is going to be a ground and pound team so it will be a little different defensive schemes. So those are things we haven’t shown in the first couple of weeks.”

How do you tell your team the statistics for road games doesn’t matter? “Because all that matters is this week. Every game that has ever been played there has no impact on this game. Every game that we’ve ever played there against them has no impact on this game. Every game that we’ll play against them in the future or the rest of the season has no impact on this game. It’s all about this week, all about our focus and our execution in this one game. That’s what we talk to our guys about, that’s what all our focus is on is just this one game. It sounds like coach-talk but with an experienced team it’s pretty simple for them to look at it and view it that way and understand it’s all bout this one game on Saturday and how we play on Saturday, not anything else.”

What is the relationship with Coach Gonzales like? “Good. Unless one of the receivers drops a ball or lines up offsides, right?! I can guarantee on Saturday every one of our coaches got coaching-up by me at some point during the course of the game. Even myself. Because they said it’s tough because I’m calling the plays and I was yelling at myself. They said you’re not as harsh on yourself as you are on everybody else, you use different language when you’re talking to yourself!”

”But no, we have a great relationship. I think just because we’ve worked together so long there is a great understanding of what we’re trying to get accomplished out there and how we’re setting things up and what we want to do within calls and within the scheme of the game and the flow of the game; how we’re trying to set things up for the future. So I think it’s certainly a big advantage that we have been together that long, that we know how the thought process of each other is working.”

Even though the last two games the secondary has given up some yards, in the red zone the defense is not allowing touchdowns. “Yeah. I mean that is part of us playing good defense. And I think all year we’re playing good defense. Great defense, I can’t say we’re playing great defense because of the big plays that we’ve given up down the field. But when you take away the ‘chunks’, when you look at the majority of our plays we’re playing really, really good defense.”

”That’s something we continue to work on. And with making sure we’re always having guys in the right position. And you look back, some of them are good schemed plays. You go into a game and try to scheme, say if we can get them in this look and we run this play we have a shot to hit a big play. That’s where a lot of the big plays come from.”

”Our guys have to do just a little bit better job of not letting that happen. And recognizing when here’s something that we haven’t seen, that is going to be coming at you. Not that all of them have been that way. And making sure we’re in the right position to make the plays when we need to. I think Saturday we almost got beat with two big plays, I think we had guys in position; we just miss-judged the ball in the ball in the air which another fundamental technique that we have to do. Fortunately they missed them on deep shots. But there were opportunities there.”

Does the SEC West get almost ridiculous at some point? “Well, that’s part of this league. There is nowhere in the country right now like the SEC West. I mean I don’t think there’s any division in football at any level that is like the SEC West is right now. When you look at the percentage of the quality teams that are here, I mean I don’t know if you can find anywhere that is like that. But that’s what we love, that’s why we love to compete, that’s what the challenge is for. That’s why all these great players come play for us, play for all these other SEC schools, is that. Let’s see, there’s five teams in the top-ten in the West; so halve of the top-ten in the nation is in the SEC West right now according to the rankings. I don’t know if there’s any other conference that has five teams in the top-25 even. Maybe, I don’t pay much attention to that stuff. But great dominance in the league, great competition in the league. I mean, that’s why we’ve won so many national championships and what makes it the best football in the country.”

At South Alabama the defense looked in a basic set no matter the number of receivers, do you see the defense transitioning more as you go into SEC play with more talented wide receivers? “Well I think a lot of it is going to determine the game you’re playing. On Saturday, their quarterback was a dangerous player. So for us part of the game was you’ve got to defend their receivers but if you spend too much time defending their receivers he’s going to beat you on his own. So that was more the plan on Saturdays, making sure we were containing their quarterback.”

”Obviously this week will be a totally different deal. We’ll get a lot more d-linemen probably in the game, even though we rotate those guys through pretty good, with all the power football we’re going to see this week.”

”But we have a bunch of different packages. We’ll see for that if you’re going to see more of a passing team or a spread team that is going to have more passing than a quarterback-run emphasis. But any time the quarterback has that extra ability to run it can be a neutralizer in what you do and how you try to scheme.”

The penalty on Chris Jones’ sack, how thin a line is it telling guys what is acceptable? “I told him this, if that was his fifth sack of the game I might say hey, you can’t be doing that stuff. But basically Preston Smith created the pressure, caused the guy to scramble; he (Jones) was being blocked, getting his butt kicked and fell off the block to tackle the guy. So that’s pretty easy to coach-up right there; hey, do something good before you try to go start celebrating like that.”

”But part of it, I don’t want to take the excitement away from the game. Like I said, if that was his fifth sack of the game and he was dominating the whole night long, gets a little over-excited I don’t mind. I’ll coach that easier than a guy really wasn’t doing much and I guess got fortunate that another guy made a great play on the defensive line and you don’t need to be drawing all that attention to yourself in those situations.”

Last year’s LSU game was close midway of the third quarter, what happened and how do you avoid it? “Well you’ve got to execute. I mean it was a pretty simple deal. I think late in the third quarter we’re going in to score, we get down and drive and we miss a field goal. They immediately respond with a touchdown. We have a turnover on the first play and give them the ball deep in our territory, and they score; boom-boom, you score 14 points in a matter of a minute-and-a-half, it’s never going go to real well for you at that point.”

”So I see that. And we have to go play a sixty minute game and execute for sixty minutes; and in the SEC maybe beyond that if we have to. But you have to play a great game, you have to execute and perform at a very, very high level every single snap of the game. Not just a bunch, every snap of the game to go win.”

You have three West teams in next four weeks, what kind of opportunity does this present for the program? “I don’t know, because our focus is this week. I mean, four weeks from now who knows who is going to be where? The team we’re playing four weeks from now could lose four-straight games, then you’ll say well they were not a very good team. Well, I promise you this, whoever we’re play the rest of the way in the SEC, especially in the West, they’re very good football teams I don’t care what the rankings say at that point, or else they all wouldn’t be top-ten teams right now.”

”But our focus now is 100% solely on this game only. I don’t view anything beyond this game. I think if we win this game we’re going to be where we want to be in the SEC race. I think it’s always important to win your first conference game, that really gives you a jump-start in conference play. For us, that’s this Saturday.”

How do you straddle the line of being aggressive in gameplan and respecting a top-notch team? “You’re going to have to make plays to beat them. Because they have talent and explosiveness on offense, so you’re going to have to score points to beat them. So we’re just going to have to execute at a really high level. And it’s always tough on the road, especially against a dominating defense that they have. But our guys have scholarships too so we’ve got to find a way to make some plays.”

Can you update Jamaal Clayborn’s status? “Yeah, he was at practice yesterday. Justin Cox, we expect him to play this week with where he’s at. Everybody that is out for the season is still out. Braxton Hoyett had his knee scoped, he’s going to be out for three week right now.”

Is Cedric Jiles out? “They’re all out indefinitely, he and Damien Robinson and Shelby Christy are all out indefinitely. They’ll all miss the season.”

The end of the Georgia-South Carolina game and how close that spot was, are you surprised they haven’t figured out a better way to spot footballs? “I remember we had a spot at Auburn a couple of years ago that kind of looked like that too, so….!”

Is there any way to make it better? “Didn’t they put a microchip in the soccer balls at the World Cup or something like that? It’s all part of the game. I didn’t see the end of the (UG-SC) game, I saw on my phone that it was 4th-and-one and I thought there’s no way Coach Spurrier is going to punt the ball right now so it will be interesting to see what they do if they get it. And I was right on that call! But I didn’t see any of it. That’s part of the game of football, there’s a lot of judgment still involved in the game of football and that’s part of our sport. And I think everybody likes that aspect of it all, you know?”

As the GM of the program… “CEO!”

…As CEO, what does the exposure do for the program especially if guys play well and win? “Well, we get a ton of publicity. Playing in the Southeastern Conference you’re playing great teams anyway, so I think if we win we’ll get two weeks of great publicity until we have to play again. Or at least one day-full, the next day everybody will love us and tell us how great we are; then we have to get back to work.”

”I don’t know if it does a whole lot for you, I mean for us I don’t pay a whole lot of attention. Because if we win we get one day of everybody telling us how great we are; if we lose we get one day of everybody telling us how bad we are. I can guarantee you we won’t be as good as everybody tells us that we are and we probably won’t be as bad as everybody tells us we are. It’s always somewhere in the middle and we’re going to come in on Sunday and get right back to work on the next game. So we’ll enjoy Saturday night or we’ll be miserable Saturday night. But Sunday we’re right back to work and working on the next opponent.”

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