Dan Mullen Monday Press Conference

“We’re excited to get this week going, a lot of exciting things happening around campus. I know with a big matchup, I think two of the top teams in the West and according to the rankings two of the top teams in the country facing off this week. We’re pretty excited about it.”

“We’ve got the SEC Nation coming in broadcasting at 9:00am in the Junction, so hopefully all of our students and fans are up early coming to show their support for the team right there.”

“We had a good bye-week. We had the opportunity to look at a bunch of things and clean-up a bunch of things, get guys rested both physically and mentally. Obviously we’re going to need that for this week’s matchup.”

“You look at a team coming in that is an unbelievable offensive football team. They’ve got weapons everywhere. They’ve got one of the best offensive lines in the country, they have three really good SEC running backs. Their wideouts are miss-matches across the board. A lot of people have one or two miss-matches, they put four miss-matches out there on the field with size and speed at the receiver position.”

“And then a quarterback that for a young guys really understands their system well, makes plays. They play with a lot of confidence as one of the top offenses in the nation. They’re second nationally in scoring, and third in total offense. So one of the top offenses in the country, and they’ve done that playing two SEC games already.”

“A much-improved defensive team from last year. You watch them, and they’re more physical against the run. They do a great job creating pressure on the outside with pass rushers and obviously have got some skill guys in the perimeter that can lock you down and cover. So there’s a reason they’re ranked #6 in the country. They’re an all-around good football team that knows how to win and knows how to find a way to win and we’re going to have to come out and play an excellent game in every phase of the game.”

“And we certainly need our crowd support there to give us that homefield advantage. This is what it’s about in the SEC, you need every bit of homefield advantage you can get. The fact we get this game at home I think is a huge plus for us and we need all our fans there creating that big advantage for us.”

Questions and Answers Section

With that offense how much pressure is it to score six points every time?
“Well you’re going to have to manage the game and manage the tempo of the game. But you know you’re going to have to score. They’re averaging 51 points per game. So I mean if they hit their average it means we’ve got to score 52; if you hold them just below your average we’ve still got to score 50! So offensively you know you’re going to have to score points against them if you’re going to beat them.”

What do you like about Josh Robinson’s personality?
“He always has a lot of energy. He always brings a real positive attitude to everything that he’s doing. And as I’ve said I think he’s matured a lot. It’s great having a positive attitude all the time, but it can become kind of a slappy attitude sometimes. He’s really matured himself into taking that positive attitude that he has and the energy that he has, and the smile he always has in his face; and tried to mature himself into understanding what it is to be an every-down player and a guy that people can look up to on the team.”

This is the fifth time you’ve seen Kevin Sumlin’s offense, what makes it so effective?
“They spread the field. He’s had a lot of good offensive lines, and that certainly helps. And then they put a lot of weapons out there for the quarterback to get the ball to. And by spreading the field they create a lot of one-on-one matchups around the field. Especially, any time you can protect the quarterback it’s a pretty quarterback-friendly offense. But when you can spread the field and create a lot of one-on-ones and not have to max-protect, protect with your five offensive linemen and give him great protection it certainly helps a lot.”

What do you see watching Kenny Hill that impresses you?
“A great understanding of what they’re trying to do offensively. He really anticipates throws well down the field. When he’s letting the ball go before receivers get in and out of breaks, there’s a lot of confidence that goes into that. I mean, for a guy before a receiver even makes a break to let it rip down the middle of the field just shows how much he understands their system and knows all of their wide receivers.”

“And then on top of that he can improvise, he can make things happen. He extends plays with his feet and in the pocket to create throws down the field. And then he’s a very elusive runner on top of that, where if you’ve got everybody in coverage he can keep a play alive and all of a sudden he’s running for a first down and moving the chains for them.”

Do you prepare any differently Friday for an 11:00am game?
“We’ll do our team chapel Friday night instead of Saturday morning. And we’ll have less walk-throughs on Saturday morning for the guys. Besides that we’ll try to make sure if we do anything we’ll move bed-check up about 15 minutes because I get tired and I’m gonna want to go to bed if I have to get up early. I’m old, so we’ll probably move bed-check up about 15 minutes, but besides that everything’s the same.”

What sort of atmosphere do you want to build with these types of games?
“Well it’s huge. We’ve talked about all of our fans, our student body, alumni, everybody, if we build an unbelievable home atmosphere we can create a winning program. And they’ve certainly done that, you look with our attendance over the last several years.”

“For our fans and student body and everybody we want to give them a team that has an opportunity to compete for a championship. We’re in that position and we certainly need their help. You’re not going to get it done just the guys on the field. We went into an extremely hostile environment last week and I thought our guys played really well in Baton Rouge. But every time the game got tight we could barely communicate at the line of scrimmage. Guys weren’t sure what play we were running on offense, and it was just deafening loud and that picks up their level of play. That’s the atmosphere we want. We want Davis Wade Stadium when people say what’s the hardest stadium to play in in the country, that’s what we want it to be. We’ve got to do our part on the field but we certainly need everybody in the stands to do their part as well.”

A&M leads the league in sacks, how much pressure does that put on the offensive line without Dillon Day?
“And without our starting right tackle, we’re down two starters right now with Damien Robinson being out as well. But that’s why, everybody wonders why we rotate players and do all that all stuff. It’s for when these situations occur. Guys that might not have played a whole lot get their number called and we’ve wanted to make sure that we’ve rotated guys at different positions, and we can put guys out on the field and it’s not going to be their first playing experience. That’s why we rotate a lot of players. When you start facing injuries and other adversities that you have to go deal with, that guys are ready to step in and go play.”

How does it help having a veteran team coming off an open date?
“We’ll find out today at practice. We gave them a bunch of time off and I want to see how everybody responds to it today. This is the year we have two bye weeks so they have opportunities to get really rested throughout the course of the year. I think with the older guys they understand what they need to do today. I think everyone will come back refreshed with a great attitude, ready to go to work.”

“Obviously coming off a bye week we’re a little ahead of schedule gameplanning. And you’re a little ahead practicing, you get an extra day of practice this week with how our schedule shapes up. So we’ll use that to our advantage. So I want to see how our guys embrace the schedule we’ve created for them. And our leadership guys get a lot of say in what our schedule is and I talk to them a lot about things we do, so they get an input on it and get an ownership in it. Then it’s their responsibility to make sure they follow through with what we get done what we need to get done.”

Elaborate on the exposure this week, and having Tim Tebow back on campus?
“It’s great. I’m excited to see Tim. He’s probably not, the last time he was here John Banks had two pick-sixes. So I don’t know if he’s too excited to come back into this stadium! He’ll get mad at me right there for reminding him of that, he’s a pretty big-time competitor. But I haven’t seen him in a long time so it’s going to be great to see him, get him here.”

“Obviously to have the pregame show here and on our Network, they’re covering right here on campus is a pretty neat deal. A great opportunity for our student body and our fans to show how much they support our team, for the whole country to see that on national television. So that’s a really neat experience and neat deal, and everybody around the country gets to see what Starkville, Mississippi is all about.”

A&M has still allowed plays of 30 and more yards for touchdowns, do you take more shots down the field?
“I think part of it is team take shots down the field because you have to score to keep up with them. So that’s part of it. And they are a very aggressive team. A lot of times you’re going to create some matchups where you get some one-on-one shots. Like anything though they’re trying to create those. They might give up the big play but if you try too many of them and they stop too many of those big plays you’re getting off the field pretty quick on offense and here comes their offense right back at you trying to wear you down.”“So a little bit of high-risk, high-reward for them at times. And when you do that you’re going to give up some big plays.”

You and Kevin Sumlin are two of the brighter minds in
… “Well thank you! I’m sure Kevin thanks you as well!”

…have you had much chance to be around him at meetings?
“You know, I haven’t. I’ve talked to Kevin. We get to spend time together at the adidas retreat every year. But football-wise it’s always been kind of tough because we played them when he was at Houston, then he moves on to A&M. We’ve always played each other so you’re a little bit reserved on what you’re sharing with each other. Not that there’s all kinds of secrets in the game of football that way.”

“But I certainly respect him. I study what they do an awful lot. Our offense, we’ll watch what they do every year in the off-season, not just when you’re playing them; but really do a study of what their offense is, what things they’re doing and what they’re doing well, and are there things we can kind of steal from them. I would guess that’s a great for of flattery to them that we’re trying to steal their ideas and offensively what they do well. But I think he’s done an amazing job with the program he has there.”

You’ve run no-huddle some this year, but still tried to keep time of possession. How important is that this game?
“One, you want to just try to make sure you can control the tempo of the game how you want it to be run. And we’ll do that. I know they want to run a lot of plays. There’s a good chance we’re going to get more plays than any other game so far this year. And that’s probably just a stat of playing an up-tempo team that is going to try to go really fast.”

“But we’re not going to really change. We’ve had some success this year offensively so far in putting up yards and putting up points. So we’re going to try to stick to what’s worked for us more than try to change towards Texas A&M.”

What are some characteristics of the Sumlin quarterbacks?
“One, very accurate passers. They’re great decision-makers, they make good quick decisions, get the ball out of their hands quick and are very accurate in their throws. And what they’ll do is they’ve got to be accurate, because they’ll beat you underneath and then beat you with some quick screens to kind of lure you in; and then they’re going to take shots down the field. When they do take those shots and hit those shots that’s when they become really an explosive team. And the quarterbacks do a great job putting the ball to guys. They have a lot of skilled athletes, so getting the ball to a guy in the open field where he can go do something with it and create that one-on-one matchup underneath; forcing you to come up, and take the shots over the top down the field.”

Do you have an update on Justin Senior’s knee?
“He should be back. The trainers told me he should be back today, we’ll see if he’ll be full-go today. Or even if he’s limited today and full-go tomorrow, I told them if he’s good to go today let’s go today; or give me the schedule for the week. But they expect him to be 100% come Saturday.”

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