Coach Dan Mullen Tuesday Press Conference

“A good day today at practice. A great opportunity for us to clean some things up with guys, get a lot of guys reps. I mean everybody got reps at practice today, just so everybody can see where they’re at, see where their performance level has to be and hopefully we improve as we play an awful lot of guys.”

“We were pretty fortunate, coming out of the game we stayed pretty healthy. Justin Senior was dinged-up before the game, he had his knee scoped first thing Monday morning. But it was not something that happened during the game, it happened the previous week and on the bye-week they just decided. So we expect him back next Monday.”

”And really coming out of the game we expect everybody to be available for the A&M game injury wise, unless something pops up this week or next week of practice. So that’s pretty beneficial for us to get those guys all back out there. And they (the #1 offensive line) probably played a couple-less reps than they should have, and that was me. So they should be a little healthier right there! Everybody probably should have played a couple of extra reps, and it would have been a little cleaner ending to the game Saturday.”

“But I think this is important for us to really kind of focus on ourselves early in the week; get the guys rested, get a little plan together for A&M, get a little extra work. But really clean up what we’re doing poorly and see how things we’re doing well maybe do them even a little bit better.”

You have four games to evaluate, is that good timing for this open date? “Not bad. Not bad. I mean it’s still a small deal…especially with one conference game. This year when you have two byes, you’ll have six games, you’ll have half the season, you’ll have three conference games. You’ll have a lot more self-evaluation stuff for us to look at. But there are some things we can really look at and see what we’ve done well and poorly, even though it’s not as big a sample size.”

Is this a well-timed break coming off such a big win? “Well, I laugh at that. Because when is a good time to have bye week? Oh, you came off a big win, don’t you want to go right back out and play again? I don’t know if there is ever a good time or a bad time really for a bye week. I think it is what it is, and gives guys an opportunity to rest physically. More importantly I think for a lot of these guys what is very underrated is the mental rest. Of kind of just stepping away from the grind of the game plan and the one week of preparing for this opponent; to kind of just look at some fundamentals, look at some basics, and rest the mind for a little bit as well.”

When you look at the tape and discussed it with Dillon Day, what was your opinion of his conduct? “Yeah, I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I mean, we completely disagree with the ruling that was given us by the league. But we’re going to follow what the Commissioner’s decisions are.”

How does the bye-week help try to shuffle someone in? “I mean we still always get the same reps. He was out taking his reps today just so we can improve.”

Will we see Ben Beckwith at center? “Possibly. We’ll have to move a bunch of guys around and mix and mingle some different things. But no different than we would if he was injured, kind of that same preparation.”

Is that the benefit of Coach Hevesy’s preparing linemen for multiple positions? “Well that’s one thing that it is, that we do all year long. Sometimes everyone will be ‘why is this guy in at this time, or why are you rolling guys through’? Because we’ve been through it. I mean we thought going into the season our starting right tackle would be Damien Robinson. That obviously changed. And you look every year we seem to have to overcome some adversities throughout the year, and one of the things in preparing the team for that is to get a lot of guys ready.”

What is the plan this weekend for the players and coaches? “The players are going to lift Thursday and then they’d better go to class Friday. And if everyone is taking care of their academics, I’ve got all the reports, all our work is caught-up, everything is turned in and any extra credit or improvement grades that need is done; then they’re off for the weekend. If not, then they get tutoring Friday and Saturday. So hopefully we take care of business in the classroom.”

”For the coaches, we’ll be out recruiting Friday. I’ll give everybody Saturday off and then we’ll be back in game week planning on Sunday.”

When he’s out and about are you comfortable that Dak Prescott is carrying himself the right way? “Yeah, as much as you can. He’s a college kid, he’s a 21-year-old college kid. From my reports and what I’ve seen he’s doing a lot better than I did when I was 21! I mean he’s a good kid, he’s 21 years old so kids are going to do what they’re going to do. But he’s a great kid, a high character kid. I trust what he’s going to do, I don’t expect anything. But my whole life revolves around 18-to-22-year olds. So nothing surprises me.”

Ben Beckwith is a former walk-on who made SEC Lineman of the Week? “That’s pretty special. Now Ben was a guy we really liked coming out of high school I remember recruiting. But he was playing like fullback. So I’m like OK, here’s this big, athletic kid; could he be a d-linemen, I don’t know. Maybe he could be an o-lineman, he’s awful big. I knew this during recruiting, he’s a guy we wanted in our program and didn’t have a scholarship for. So I was thrilled when he decided to come walk on and he earned his scholarship pretty quickly after that when he settled in on offensive line and showed what he could do.”

”But for everybody out there to see that, that here is a kid that was a walk-on, comes in and earns a scholarship and here now he is SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week which is pretty special. But not just that, he’s a very consistent player for us and is really growing into being a legit, big-time SEC lineman.”

Did anyone reach out to you after the LSU win you hadn’t heard from in a while? “Well, a lot. Not as much as my wife got, she said she had 170 text messages or something. But you get a lot of colleagues, congrats on a great (win). You know, when you get a big win you will do that. And just guys you know and guys you’re close with in the profession reach out and just say congratulations.”

”But with these type of wins, high school coaches, everybody, I did get a whole bunch of emails and text messages and facebook messages and all that stuff this week. But that’s always nice, that people are paying attention to what you’re doing. But I’m kind of over it now, I enjoyed it right afterwards. I would have enjoyed it more if we didn’t make it so close at the end, probably. It got my anxiety up. I saw I was much grayer when I looked in the mirror today. But we enjoyed the win, it’s great, we’re in a great position where we wanted to be. Obviously that first one is so important in the SEC play.”

What would you have done differently? “I would have done an awful lot differently. It was really a unique situation, we were driving and get the ball down in the red zone. First-and-10 around the 12, 15, where it was exactly. And they had two players go down on the play. I don’t think it was anything serious but they helped them off the field.”

“Instantly I’m looking; we’re ahead three scores, we’ve got the ball, there’s three-and-a-half, four some minutes left in the game and their two guys just limped off the field. At that point I’m whoa, get all our twos in the game. And that was probably a mistake, I learned that. Especially there on the road and in that environment against that talented a team, obviously the game was not out of reach at that point and I should have left our ones in. And if we finish off or score on that drive then the game probably is out of reach at that point; and then rotate everybody in.”

”And after their first score I kept leaving our backups in the game and I probably should have put our starters back in.”

P.J. Jones was the team defensive player of the game? “Yeah, he played a solid game. It was a tough call with the defensive coaching staff. We really looked at everybody and there was a bunch of deserving candidates. In the end I don’t know how they came up with P.J. to be honest with you. We went through and discussed and said there’s a bunch, I said well you guys tell me who it is and we went with P.J.”

”But I do think with that, there are some guys…you look at P.J., you look at Kaleb Eulls in that game; very unsung heroes doing a lot of the grunt and dirty work. Your two inside starting d-tackles, if you’re going to shut a power football team down like LSU they have got to play at a very, very high level. Eating up blocks, absorbing blocks, they might not get the stats or much of the credit for what went on but those two guys really did a fabulous job of holding the middle of the field.”

On a couple of plays Justin Senior went a long ways to block or protect his backs? “He’s pretty athletic. And you know what it was, with him it was just a quick clean-up scope of the knee. He was limited a little bit in practice last week but as the trainer said we have to limit him a little bit but he’ll be fine for the game. And actually after the game there was a discussion whether to even do it or not because he really played fine. But our thought was the doctors think it will be a one-week recovery, let’s just get it done now to make sure nothing worse happens. But he’s done a very good job for us filling in for Damien Robinson.”

On October 4 the nation will be watching games in Mississippi, what does that mean for the state as a whole? “Well it’s pretty cool right? It’s awesome! LSU goes to Auburn I think that week too. I know this, the nation will be looking at the SEC West that week!”

”But especially here. There will be two big games here in the state. I think it’s a pretty neat deal. I know we’ve really worked hard to build up the pride in everybody on the state and everybody in their schools. And football in the South is something people take a lot of pride in and something they really hang their hat on. And it’s fantastic we can give the people of Mississippi something to be proud of.”

Dak and Josh Robinson are pushing 2,000 yards through four games; how do you measure them against some of the duos you’ve had, like Relf and Ballard? “Lennon and McCartney? Simon and Garfunkel? No, I think they’re doing a good job. I mean Dak played to me his best game that he’s played, but that’s what we expected of him. I don’t think he played above his ability, he played how we expect him to go play.”

”I’m really pleased with how Josh has matured. You know, he was a guy you always knew he had talent, you always knew he had a lot of energy. But he would kind of go off the reservation sometimes, he’d do stuff and you’re like what are you doing? Where did that come from? And he’s really worked. You could see it in the off-season, his work ethic in the weightroom and all that was a much more mature approach coming into this season. And you’re seeing that on game day, a much more mature every-down player. A guy you want on the field at key moments, who you want on the field all the time.”

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