Updated: Mullen Talks Scrimmage, Statistics

Mississippi State wrapped up another week of spring work with the second full scrimmage. And full it was, whether the contact play itself or a lot of early instruction periods and plenty special teams practice. Things ran well over the scripted two hours, all things counted.

What counted to Coach Dan Mullen was a positive overall impression. “A good day out here today. When we did this, a little different style of scrimmage than we did the last time. So there’s a couple of different things you look at.”

"For coaches the two aspects of it is we’re trying to get certain plays, certain looks and reps by certain guys. So there’s the individual aspect of the player development they could get in today’s scrimmage, which I can’t tell you anything about. I mean that’s what we go in and watch all the film when we go break down.”

“Then the team aspect when you scrimmage this way, when it’s not as scripted a scrimmage, it’s pretty interesting. Because you’ve got to look and say OK, the 1-defense really went with the 2-offense today. You have to look at where field position started for that 2-offense on every drive. Because that would be very realistic of where you gave your offense the ball.”

“The same thing, the 1-offense goes out there on the field against the 1-defense; when we punted where did they start? Then if the 2-offense comes out there on the field, they’re driving and punt the ball. That defense, where did they hold them? That’s where the other guys would have started their possession. That’s something we’ll go look at as you evaluate it as a team scrimmage.”

“Statistically you guys probably have it written out a lot more than I do. What was good and bad in that within the team scrimmage of 1-offense to 2-offense, 1-defense and 2-defense and how they did putting their complementary team in a position to go on and succeed.”

Last week Manny Diaz said the offense handled the defense. How do you feel the defense bounced back? “I thought they played with good energy out there on the field today. I liked their demeanor and their attitude. Again I’ll look back. I don’t know that we played poorly last week on defense. I thought there were some communication issues.”

”Also in how we ran the scrimmage, a little tougher for the defense last week because we set it as 1s, 2s with set yard lines each possession. And we’re tempo’ing, we weren’t subbing as much. Today was much more sub-oriented and we kind of split it up where we had 1-and-a-halves against the 2 to 3-and-a-halves. So you were rotating more players on longer drives which is going to help the defense a little bit more.”

Do you see the defense starting to get what is going on under Manny? “Yeah, I think we’re getting a little bit better. Just some grasping, it’s all the subtle changes. There’s little changes at certain positions and certain defenses, that things look different than what they did in the past. And so you’ll see some guys when it’s a high-stress-type tempo situation all of a sudden reverting and saying how am I passing this coverage off. And how am I doing those things. How the blitz is hitting and what gaps we’re fitting in, those things. It will still take some time as they continue to grow.”

Nick Fitzgerald seemed to finish strong, what do you think he did today? “I thought he did some really good things. I asked him to do some things to see more game situation. Put a little bit more hey, look at this, check to this and check coming off the field. And I thought he did a good job mentally of not forcing things, just managing things. And I thought he did a good job of that.”

Last year you told Dak Prescott you can’t run out of this play to force him to do things. Have you told Fitzgerald this year to not do this, just to make it more difficult? “I really haven’t. I just want to give him the chance to get comfortable, go play. Because he’s still really young, and it’s first chance learning the offense. His first chance to learn it all I want to let him just go see what he can do. Now in the future it might be something where I put more restrictions to make it harder on him.”

(The interview pauses so Coach Mullen can attend to daughter Breelyn) What is the plan for the last week? “The final week? We’re’ just going to review what we need, what we really need to look at. What parts of the game do we really need to look at. We’re going to do some scrimmaging this week, again just put some guys in some different situations. And after this scrimmage really go back, review it. Say OK, even off scripts we didn’t get enough reps of this play or that play or that defense or that blitz. We’re combining it, this way against this defense or this blitz against this type of offense. And really kind of get everything we want to get finalized caught on film as we go into the summer with our guys.”

What did you think of how Dontavian Lee ran? “He runs the ball hard. I think as continues to grow, a couple of cuts he’s going to do better. Just see some things a little bit better out there on the field. But that comes with time and experience. But he runs the ball hard.’

What can you do to try to avoid serious injuries, Malik Dear came off walking gingerly? “Yeah, it looks like he’ll be OK.”

But can you avoid those things? “It’s hard. Especially you’re going live, sometimes it’s the guy being tackled; sometimes it’s ‘friendly fire’ when you’re going to tackle to the ground. That’s why we don’t do it very often. Because it’s not just the 1, it’s the secondary injuries that come with it.”

Thanks, Coach. “You haven’t asked about my singing? You haven’t seen it yet?”

Scoring Drives By Offensive Unit and in order scored

#1: 5 plays, 23 yards; 38-yard Devon Bell field goal

#2: 15 plays, 76 yards; 21-yard pass Nick Fitzgerald to Aeris Williams

#1: 12 plays, 62 yards; 2-yard rush Dak Prescott

#3: no drive kept; 8-yard rush Bennie Braswell

#2: 8 plays, 91 yards; 5-yard pass Nick Fitzgerald to Donald Gray

#2: 2 plays, 49 yards; 39-yard rush Dontavian Lee

#1: 8 plays, 75 yards; 3-yard pass Prescott to Ashton Shumpert

#2: 7 plays, 28 yards; 2-yard rush Lee

PASSING: Prescott 22 of 33, 229 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; Fitzgerald 21-of-39, 263 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT

RUSHING: Lee 15 for 90 yards, 2 TD; Williams 21 for 61 yards; Shumpert 11 for 35 yards; Prescott 6 for 33 yards 1 TD; Brandon Holloway 1 for 2 yards; Malik Dear 1 for 1 yard; Fred Ross 1 for 3 yards; Fitzgerald 3 for minus-6 yards.

RECEIVING: Dear 6 for 78 yards; Ross 6 for 71 yards; Williams 4 for 46, 1 TD; Fred Brown 4 for 45; Deddrick Thomas 3 for 85 yards; Rashun Dixon 3 for 35; Shumpert 3 for 30, 1 TD; Gray 3 for 8, 1 TD; Gus Walley 2 for 37; Shelby Christy 2 for 31; Lee 2 for 19; De’Runnya Wilson 2 for 10; Holloway 1 for 14.

TACKLE LEADERS: Kivon Coman 7, Chris Rayford 7, Kelan Chairs 7, J.T. Gray 7, Zach Jackson 6, Beniquez Brown 6, Josiah Phillips 6, etc.

SACKS: Brian Houston 3, Chris Jones 1, Nick James 1.

TACKLES FOR LOSS: Houston 3, Jones 2, James 2.


PASSES BROKEN UP: Brandon Bryant 2, Ryan Brown, Cory Thomas

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