The Missing Ingredient Now in the Mix

There has not been a lot of turnover on the Mississippi State coaching staff on the offensive side of the ball under Coach Dan Mullen. Coaches John Hevesy, Greg Knox and Scott Sallach have manned their Bulldog posts from the beginning of the Mullen era. Newly hired QB coach Brian Johnson replaced long time offensive coordinator Les Koenning earlier this year.

The one staff position on the offensive staff that has been a bit unsettled during Mullen's six years in Starkville has been the wide receiver spot.

Mullen is big on continuity and consistency, so reaching out to long time friend and former colleague Billy Gonzales made perfect sense.

Year one brought Mark Hudspeth to Starkville. Hudspeth served as the Bulldogs' passing game coordinator for two seasons, winning a Gator Bowl before accepting the head coaching job at Louisiana-Lafayette.

Graduate assistant Angelo Mirando was elevated from his graduate assistant position to wide receiver coach once "Coach Hud" left for Cajun Country after two years as a Bulldog assistant.

Mirando served on the staff in a full time capacity for just one season. Prior to the 2012 campaign, veteran Tim Brewster was installed to lead a veteran group of passing targets led by Chad Bumphis, Arceto Clark and Chris Smith.

In the spring of 2013, Brewster departed for Florida State, which meant that Mullen would have to once again hire a receivers' coach.

Gonzales was hired in what Mullen deemed "a no brainer" decision. Now in the their fourth location and tenth season together, Gonzales reports that he is happy to be back working with some familiar faces that share some pretty special on the field moments together.

"When you have a bunch of people who are familiar with each other, you're talking about family," said Gonzales. "It's like coming back home a family.

"I have been around Jon Clark, who is Coach Mullen's right hand man, Coach Hevesy and of course Coach Mullen.

"When we get in those battles and you have to get down in the bunker together, there is a comfort level, because you have been through those battles together before.

"You know what it's like to dig a ditch together and just make a strong hold. You have advanced together in the locker room and it's just a neat camaraderie that you have together.

"You build relationships together that you can count on."

Gonzales has worked with Dan Mullen at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and now Mississippi State. Success has followed everywhere they have been, so the fact that the Bulldogs are winning should come as no surprise.

"To have the chance to get back together has been great," said Gonzales. "We've been together since 2000, except for a couple of years.

"You get back together and you get back into that rhythm and you don't miss a beat.

"There's a trust factor and a familiarity of how things need to be done. I think knowing how Coach Mullen wants it done plays a big part in being successful for us."

Having worked with Mullen at multiple locations, Gonzales has seen the "Mullen system" develop over the years and turn Mississippi State into a national title contender.

"I think Coach Mullen is one of the best head coaches in the country," said Gonzales. "I said earlier in the season that I felt he was one of the best offensive coordinators in the country, hands down.

"He does a great job and he's very smart. He knows how to intellectually manage things.

"I think one of the big things that Coach does such a great job with is having the ability to adapt and to look at the entire picture. He understands how things are going to impact everybody.

"He sees how decisions are going to effect the entire team and he does a phenomenal job with that."

The Bulldogs are 8-0 and a consensus #1 nationally for the fourth straight week. Gonzales is quick to point out that the Bulldogs still have some work to do in order to reach their goals for the 2014 season.

"I think it's awesome to be where we're at right now," said Gonzales. "We're a blue collar program and we take a lot of pride in that. We have to continue to work, because the work is not done yet."


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