Coach Dan Mullen Monday Press Conference

“Last week it was a great win for us as a team. Guys did what they needed to do, made plays throughout the game that we needed to make. Obviously we got the home field advantage with our fan base and especially the student body. But our entire fan base staying the entire game to give us that homefield advantage.”

“And we’re really excited to have College Gameday here. It’s really neat for our program and everybody. I think last week they saw the type of atmosphere we have here and we want to have a sellout crowd this week. I think that is so, so important coming in here to this game.”

“It’s really exciting for the state of Mississippi right now with the success that both universities are having. I guess I hear it, we end up as coaches kind of locked away sometimes so you don’t get to see that excitement that’s all around. But I know people around the state, there’s a lot of pride in the state of Mississippi and what we’re able to accomplish on the football field. That’s fantastic we can be a part of that. So that is really, really exciting.”

“We have a tough matchup this week with Auburn. It will be the best team we’ve played so far. As Bill (Martin) told me, right now every team we played so far this year has been undefeated going into the game. So it’s another one. You look at Auburn, the type of team that you are, a team that knows how to win. Obviously the defending conference champion, they got to play for a national championship last year. They know how to win, they’ve played in big games, know how to play in big games.”

”They’ve got one of the top defenses in the conference. A lot of talented players, they roll a lot of guys through on the defensive line. They’ve got big physical linebackers and great athleticism in the secondary to cover you. You go to the other side of the ball they’ve got I think the most experienced quarterback in the league that’s back, one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He leads the league in rushing. They’ve got big play wide receivers on the outside, and obviously they’re a great running team with a big physical offensive line and a bunch of different backs that they’ll throw at you, including their main guy, the third-leading rusher in the SEC.”

“So really another huge challenge for us this week with a great team coming in. Should be a pretty exciting game, should be fun, should be a great atmosphere and we’ll be ready to go play.”

You’ve comment on the work Brian Johnson has done with Dak Prescott, what does he bring to preparation and to play-calling from the press box? “It great. By getting to be upstairs he really gets to see everything. I think when you’re upstairs it’s like watching the game film. It really all lays out there to him. For me, I’m kind of back and forth sometimes with them and then I’m with the defnse every once in a while.”

“But even though I only had Brian for a year (at Utah), when he’s talking to them it’s how I like talking to quarterbacks and how I want it done. There’s a lot of discussion on what went on, they come off a series, what did you see, why did you do this? Dak talks through everything that happened, then Brian says OK; if there’s something we made a mistake on this is where the mistake was, maybe you didn’t see this happen out there on the field or this is what happened on the back side of that read. So I think there’s just really great communication about what’s getting done on the field.”

For playing football only three years, are you surprised where De’Runnya Wilson is? “No, because he’s a hard worker. I mean he’s got a great practice work ethic out there on the field. Playing basketball last year he missed a little bit of the off-season, so I still think he has a lot of improvement he can make. But he’s got very, very natural ball skills. And the ability with his ball skills and his body control certainly help him. And the size, I mean that miss-match. So when he gets himself in position he’s very natural catching the ball and it allows him to make a lot of plays.”

You’ve been with lots of teams that got attention, is it special with your own team? “Yeah, it’s pretty cool! It’s fun still down there in meetings trying to figure out how to score some points and how to shut them down. But I think all of our coaches, everybody is proud what we’ve been able to build here a little bit.”

”But you know, obviously this is nothing to with our goal. Rankings and all are really cool. The only one that I see is we’re 2-0 in the SEC with six games to go. So we really haven’t accomplished all that much yet. And the rest of it is kind of cool.”

When recruiting Dak Prescott did see a Heisman Trophy kind of play was possible? “Well, when you talk about all those national awards and Heismans and stuff like that… I think in part our offensive system certainly helps that with guys. And I’ve been blessed to have some really good quarterbacks, in a lot of quarterbacks that succeed at the highest levels within our system that get mentioned for these awards, it’s fantastic.”

“But you don’t look at guys in recruiting that way. I look at a guy that’s a winner. A guy that has an unbelievable work ethic, a desire to be great, whatever he’s doing. You just saw that when you’re around him. You talked to his high school coaches, you talked to the people at the high school that’s what they say. And he’s just got a drive to be great. And those are the type of guys that you want because they’re going to really develop and push themselves to maximize their ability to become the best they can be.”

“We’re a developmental program so I love guys that have that desire to want to be great. You saw that in him. And I still think he’s getting better every single day. We had a great practice last night, we improved as a team last night. That’s really important for us.”

You have the starting kicker go out, the leading receiver and starting center and beat the #6 team. Does that speak to the development of younger guys like Devin Desper? “Well we have some older guys on the team and the experience aspect, and knowing we always talk about you’ve got to do your job. You never know when your number is going to be called to make a play. You never what play in the course of the game is going to be the one to change that. I tell our guys every week if you know what play is going to be the deciding factor of the game, let me know so I can make a great call!”

”You never know which one it’s going to be. You’ve got to be ready and you’re got to prepare that way. And I think the leadership within our program, the older guys do a great job with the younger guys so they get to know to be ready. The fact that two of those three guys went down basically during warmups, that we figured out they couldn’t play, certainly made me sleep better and probably everybody else. There was no real pressure on Logan Cooke. He had about 30 seconds’ notice that he’s going to go do the opening kickoff, so he didn’t really have time to get nervous about it, he just had to go do it.”

”But I think guys with the program, they see that. They’re ready for when their number is called, they’re given that opportunity to go step up and perform at the highest level.”

You’ve accomplished something (rankings) that Jackie Sherrill didn’t, does that excite you? “No. But Jackie will still tell me I probably have a lot of things to catch up with him. No, you know what, it’s fantastic. But for us our goal is to win the SEC West, that’s something he did, we haven’t done that yet. Everything else I don’t know if it’s really that important right now.”

“In my years in the SEC, one thing I’ve learned: if you win a really big game in this league the gift is you get an even bigger one the next week. That’s about all you get. We won a huge game two weeks ago, we got a bigger game last Saturday. We won a really big game on Saturday, we get an even bigger one this week. That’s what this league is all about and that’s kind of how it works.”

Is this week about calming down, do you find that easy with this team? “Here’s the thing for us. We’re playing an even better team this week. So we’re going to have to play better this than we did last weak. And the only way that’s going to happen is we work even harder at practice, we work harder in everything we do and we become an even better football team.”

“So I think the reality of that, within the program…the emotions that go on and the emotions of it all is fantastic, and the sense of accomplishment is great. I have a lot of pride in our University and I have a lot of pride in the state of Mississippi. A lot of the emotions are in what has gone on here in the state. You look, you have the two universities in the state both ranked #3 nationally, that’s pretty special. I mean for all the people here. Because you’re always hearing about maybe what Mississippi is last in or if we’re ranked high it’s for something not great.”

“But being considered one of the best at something that’s really dear to everyone’s heart here in the state, that really everybody in the whole state can celebrate. Not point fingers or any of that stuff, everybody can celebrate I think is pretty special and I think that’s the emotion. Now, the reality of it all for us is we have to get to work and be a better football team. None of us, I mean except for being able feel good this week and our guys probably getting patted on the back around campus haven’t accomplished anything close to what we want to accomplish. And the difference between a pat in the back and a kick in the rear end is about six inches! So we have to make sure we keep it on the high end of those six inches right there. Because if not it’ll turn to the second!”

The national attention Prescott has exploded, have you talked to him about it? “Yeah, we’ve talked to him about that stuff. But most importantly, he’s got to be him. Somebody around here has got to be mature! I was just in our staff meeting and the cheeseburger that Billy Gonzales was eating, Brian Johnson is still only 26 or 27 years old. So somebody around here has got to be mature, I act like a kid all the time.”

“You know what, when you have that deal with him the talk is he got here being Dak Prescott; so if he really likes what is going on with it all, continue to be Dak Prescott. If you don’t then change and go be something else. But you’ll also see different results that come along with that.”

“When you look at it that way, that’s what it is. He’s a young college kid that is having a good time And I tell him don’t take yourself too seriously. Any time you start to take yourself too seriously find the people that will keep you in check. It’s very easy for me to not take myself too seriously. Because I go home and I’ve got a five year old and a two year old and a beautiful wife. And I’m Dad to them, that’s all I really am and that’s kind of cool. I mean my son is really juiced when we win, he’s really into the rankings right now and I’m starting to compete with some other people out there for his favorite. He likes the winners!”

“But I have a great group of friends. You get texts from your friends but a lot of them are still kind of busting your chops about stuff. So I said to them, the people that have always been there for you, that are always going to act the same in everything else. Just take it with a grain of salt. Have fun with it, it’s really neat and enjoy it. Because sometimes it will be there, sometimes it won’t. And that aspect of things, all that attention, all that hype, that’s constantly changing. So just kind of take it for what it is, the reality behind it all and the people that are constant, those are the things that really matter.”

With Jameon Lewis out how did Gabe Myles play? “I thought he did really well. We continue to stress and remind him hey Jameon was a very similar situation Gabe’s in. Jameon was a high school quarterback, won the state championship; very similar backgrounds. And they have to come in and learn this new position. So you see Gabe rally kind of doing some things well at that position, and still learning in other aspects of it. But what I was pleased with, we didn’t skip a beat. He didn’t flinch. Smokey (Jamoral Graham) got to go in and take some of those reps too and he didn’t flinch. They were ready to go and I credit a lot of that to Billy Gonzales does a great job with the receivers, making sure they’re all ready. But also to Jameon making sure the guys that are at his position that back him up are ready to go play as well.”

What did you learn at Florida in this situation to benefit the team and Dak? “Oh, boy, I don’t know. Like I had said, in this league it’s all about the next game, it’s all about the next play. That’s what you’re as good as. So all the hype that comes, to be honest if we win this game the next one will be even bigger again, so that’s all that happens. That’s how we view it. Is this a big game, absolutely, bigger than the last one. If we win it it probably won’t be as big as the next one though. So our guys are focused on us as a team and us constantly getting better. Coming into this season our goals were to win more than two games in the SEC. That’s all we’ve really done so far so we still have a lot to accomplish.”

How do things change for coordinator Geoff Collins facing a balanced offense? “The personality changes over three weeks, to go from two-tights, I-formation pound-away football to the five wides throw it 62 times in the game; to the balanced, a team very similar to us in run and play-action. That’s going to spread it out to run it but also has a spread-action game and has a lot of the option components, maybe not in the traditional sense of people view the option but the run-pass options on all the plays and a really athletic that can run the football and is a dynamic player.”

“It certainly is a challenge to our defensive guys. Because there’s really not lots of carry-over from one week to the next. There’s a lot of carry-over in what we do ourselves, but how that applies to the team you’re playing there’s not a lot of carry-over.”

What are the expectations of Lewis and the others who missed last game? “We’ll see how they go. They’re kind of rest injuries so yesterday we had a bunch of guys rest. I’ll tell you though our guys were juiced, they were flying around last night on the practice field which was great. But we were a little bit really light with those guys.”

“We’ll see. In talking to the trainers afterwards they feel there’s a good chance they both could play Saturday. But I’ll have to see. It’s not one of those where this is the exact time, neither of the deals is this is the exact timeframe for the injury. So there’s a good chance they’ll both play Saturday but it’s going to be one of those we see as the week progresses how they do.”

What were the expectations of Josh Robinson coming into the season? “I know my expectations of everybody is extremely high. Josh’s expectations and probably opinions of himself are pretty high, for anyone who spends much time around him! No, he’s a tremendous kids. And such an unbelievably positive attitude that you see. And he worked really hard at it.”

“I always knew he had a lot talent. What you saw coming into this season was him developing maturity. And they key to that was maturity and not losing the personality that makes him who he is and so much fun to be around. But the maturity in knowing how to take care of his business. So we thought he could do some really big things.”

“Dak gets a lot of attention. But within our offense everybody has got to do their job. As we spread the field we try to make the defense account for all eleven guys that are out there. And if one guy is a real weak link they only have to worry about ten and then they can start really taking things away from you. So everyone needs to do their job.”

“I think Josh has done a tremendous job of getting tough yards when he needs to get tough yards, and hitting explosive plays in the opportunities to get explosive plays. Catching the ball out of the backfield, blocking when you need a block. That’s the maturity of not just hey give me the ball and I’ll show you want I can do when I go run with it. It’s being a complete football player, and that’s what we need out of everybody on our team.”

What are your thoughts after watching Auburn against LSU? “They’re certainly going to be the best defense we’ve faced this year. The most complete the defense. They’ve got a great defensive front and it’s one of those that you look at like in classic SEC style. You’re looking OK, who is this guy and it’s a different guy every time. They’re deep, they roll those guys through up-front and a lot of talented players on the defensive line. They’ve got the linebackers that are big, physical guys, and then they’re athletic enough to go play a lot of man coverage and give you the one-on-one matchups on the outside to stop the run within what they do.”

“And they’re a very well-coached outfit. Ellis (Johnson) does a great job of taking things away and scheming people and putting his players in position to be successful. They’re certainly well-deserving of being one of the top defenses in the country.”

How has Heisman hype changed with social media? “I’ve gotten to go a couple of times to New York, with Alex Smith at Utah and Timmy (Tebow) at Florida. I mean we’ve gone through five games, I don’t ever remember that being much of a deal. I just remember by game-eight or -nine the hype would start building up, and maybe I’m off on that and maybe it was always that way and we didn’t notice it.”

“The year Tim won it, I think it really hit when he accounted for seven touchdowns at South Carolina one night. And it really exploded after that. Alex, was just putting up ridiculous numbers every single week, and then all of a sudden we started getting ranked and getting noticed and climbing the polls. And he continued to perform and every stat was just so much ahead of every other quarterback in the country that year. But it wasn’t until later in the season. And even after Timmy had won it I still don’t even remember it being that much. It was like hey, he was always going to get it because he’s already won it once and did it as a true sophomore. So I thought that was pretty unique. So that hype maybe was always around him, but I don’t remember that hyped-up this early in the season.”

“Because we’ve only played five games. It’s hard to say what anything is going to happen. We’ve got another eight weeks with a bye week and seven or eight more weeks to see, that’s when it’s really important to see how you’ve done in the total body of work.”

Prescott had a high completion percentage Saturday, is he a better game player than practice? “No, he’s pretty good in practice now. He does a good job, understands what’s going on, understands coverages and how we work things. I think in practice you’re always trying to work differ things. But Dak’s a guy that works really hard at his technique and his fundamentals and developing himself. So I think he takes a lot of pride on doing it in practice at an extremely high level. Because it’s always going to be a little harder in the game just because of everything that’s going on, and in a game it’s never going to play out exactly the way you think.”

“But I think a lot of that also is just his comfort within the offense, his comfort in preparation and playing other teams. And his growth and development as a quarterback. Throughout his career here and hopefully even beyond it there’s going to be a lot of bumps on gameday to come and speed-bumps that happen. But it’s his development and his continual growth that has really to me the most important thing.”

“Even looking at Saturday, his touchdown to Fred Brown, I mean he does a great job. He knows where he’s going with the ball, knows what the coverage is, looks the safety off. Very relaxed, very balanced, makes a very accurate throw where it wasn’t trying to figure out what was going on. He knew and did his job. That’s a major part of it, just understanding what is going to happen and then you really can be really relaxed back there.”

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