Offense Has Turnover-Free Saturday at Scott Field; F.Brown Excused; Peters Back on Defense

Normally the ‘hot’ topic of scrimmage day would be, well, something from the football field. Dan Mullen was more energized from earlier actions a few long punts away, at the campus amphitheater stage where the Mississippi State coach fired up the Derby Day crowd with a mike and yes, with some moves. “I was pretty good, wasn’t I?”

Clips from Mullen’s turn on-stage are making the i-rounds. And since like most coaches he has a share of showman in the system prancing to ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ for a college crowd brought it all out. Then again, Mullen has made a point of participating in all sorts of campus events since arriving in Bulldog Country, for the general promotion of Mississippi State en toto. He also has a trip Northeast in the near future as Mullen participates in the Boston Marathon.

Now, back to his day job… “Oh, today? You want to know about football?” So Mullen talked about the two-hour scrimmage just completed, beginning with the total contrast from last week’s scrimmage dominated by a turnover-forcing defense and lack of scoring by all offenses. And, ending with a lengthy discussion of the NCAA’s new ruling banning off-campus ‘satellite’ camps for prospects.

MULLEN: “A different day. I was glad to see it. You look at last week, we turned the ball over seven times offensively, not what we wanted to do. Today, none. But you know me, as the head coach sometimes I hate the extremes. I want to see good football.”

“I thought the offense executed a lot better today than we did last week. A lot fewer mistakes. Defensively, I wanted to see some guys. When guys weren’t making some plays they kind of, I don’t know, some one has got to step up to be the guy. To come get that leadership back up, to draw the line in the sand to get us slowed-down. But we’ll get there.”

“We’ve got a lot of young guys on this team and we’ll get there eventually.”

With the wide receivers out, you had some younger ones step up? “They did a good job. The young guys are getting opportunities. They’re guys that are taking big steps forward.”

“I think Keith (Mixon) has had an unbelievable spring. But all those guys are taking giant steps forward. Because now they have this opportunity to really learn. You know, they’re getting some great opportunities for the first time, when they kind-of know what they’re doing. I like to say even in fall, you go into fall camp they’re swimming, trying to figure it all out. Even going to bowl prep they’re trying to figure it out. Now they have time, they know what they’re doing out there on the field, to see them go make some plays.”

With starters out how valuable is a Deddrick Thomas who can plug-in inside or outside? “I think it’s huge. Because we want that with the receivers. We’ve got a couple of those guys. If you look at us when we get going, I mean even though he’s out (for spring) Fred Ross can go inside/outside. Gabe Myles we’ve put outside but we know he can go inside for us. I think it just gives you some flexibility and helps those guys out when you get stuck the receiver situation we’re in right now.” 

How pleased are you to have no interceptions this scrimmage? “Yeah, very pleased! After last week’s debacle, much better to see that and taking care of the football and good decision-making.”

How much do think last Saturday was a learning situation for those quarterbacks? “I think a lot. I think next Saturday will be a big one, too. Because a lot of them are going on the big stage. Hopefully we have a good crowd here. One of the most important things to me of having a big crowd at the spring game is putting pressure on guys who haven’t been in that role.”

“You know, people are looking and they’re not the backup. There’s potentially four starters right there. Some one is going to be the starter. So they’re all coming in with that pressure on them and we need to see them perform at a high level.” 

We didn’t see Fred Brown today? “Yeah, he’s got some family deals.”

Are you seeing any separation between the quarterbacks right now? “There’s so much that I evaluate on it. I haven’t really looked for separation yet. I’m just compiling all my information on them still, and a long way to go before I would ever think that.”

“You just see the number of reps. One of our goals (is) hopefully they all have equal reps coming out of spring. Everybody gets a lot of opportunities, and we’ll go back and evaluate it after spring. But then even through summer what steps they’re taking from the end of spring and the start of summer; and then the start of summer and the start of training camp, to the school, to getting into game week of who has really put themselves in position to be ready to play.”

Jamal Peters was back on defense today, what did you see when he was on offense? “I thought he did a great job on offense. One of the things that is frustrating, he breaks a finger and has this club on. Now he can’t catch, and that’s frustrating for him.”

“But I think he’s a guy that I mean could be very, very special at wide receiver in long-term of his career. Even beyond here.”

Do you want him to play both offense and defense? “Yeah, we’ll see. I want him playing at a high level so we’ll evaluate where we’re at and where he is going to be able to help the team most; and where he is going to be most successful.”

What do you want to see in this final week of spring practice? “Continue to take huge steps forward. I mean, there’s so much. We’ve got a young football team so there’s so many things we’ve got to (do). Guys have got to get the reps in that they need.”

How do you evaluate the defense with no turnovers today? “Well, I told them that. I said as the head coach I’m never really happy, when we leave a scrimmage or every practice either the defense feels pretty good about themselves or the offense feels pretty good about themselves.”

“As the head coach you just feel pretty miserable no matter what happens! But I told everybody I just want to see good football. I’ll go watch the film, I want to see guys playing well. I think a couple of things, we’ve got to improve defensively on some things; but there’s great opportunity out there for guys to do it. And they’re going to get to see it.”

“You know, at the end of spring we’re 0 and 0. At the end of training camp we’re 0 and 0. That’s one of the things when you look at player development, how you do things, what steps we’re taking forward to get better.”

Anfernee Mullins wasn’t out here today, was that because of his arrest? “Yeah. And I think we made a statement on that.”

The NCAA released there will be no satellite camps, what was your opinion? “I think everybody in the SEC as a league we felt we’re against that. I think it opens kind of a Pandora’s box out there. Camps by definition of the NCAA are instructional. I don’t think there’s a lot of things going on or a lot of unintended consequences of things that were going on.”

“And I think one of the biggest things, is the monitoring of it and making sure everybody is following and doing things the right way by the rules all the time. I don’t know, people who’ve done satellite camps, were they flying their whole compliance office to these camps? Making sure every camp they go to things are done right, all that? Our compliance officers are at practice and here.”

“And I think budgetarily, all those things, it just made sense to me. And I think everybody in our league kind of agreed upon that, that as a league we agreed.”

“I mean, I want guys coming to our campus for camps. Young men to come and get the experience of being on a college campus, seeing what are the experiences, seeing what it’s all about here at a place like Mississippi State.”

Mark Richt also said last year it’s a time of the year to spend with family, does that come into play? “It does. I would say this. There’s a lot of discussions going on of what’s best for the future of college football? And I think how to structure it that way.”

“I think we added a dead period last year for coaches. Where you’d go see your family. You know, we’re a family program, trying to help develop and teaching people and helping them grow. And then they look at their mentor-coach and said hey, have you ever seen your family? Nah, I don’t ever see my family… I don’t know what type of example some of that sets.”

“So there’s so many different things that get played into it. I think it’s what is best for college football right now.”

SCORING PLAYS & DRIVES (quarterback)

(Fitzgerald) Westin Graves 30-yard field goal; 10 plays, 55 yards

(Tiano) Graves 34-yard field goal; 9 plays, 51 yards

(Williams) Aeris Williams 1-yard rush; 7 plays, 40 yards

(Fitzgerald) Graves 24-yard field goal; 15 plays, 68 yards

(Williams) Williams to Deddrick Thomas 9-yard pass; 4 plays, 40 yards

(Tiano) Tiano to Malik Dear 34-yard pass; 5 plays, 60 yards

(Staley) Elijah Staley to Dear 8-yard pass; 9 plays, 75 yards

(Williams) Dontavian Lee 4-yard rush; 6 plays, 75 yards

(Staley) A.Williams 4-yard rush; 8 plays, 75 yards

(Tiano) Tiano to Jonnas Spivey 52-yard pass; 4 plays, 75 yards

(Staley) Staley 2-yard rush; 4 plays, 60 yards

(Fitzgerald) Fitzgerald to Gabe Myles 29-yard pass; 3 plays, 25 yards

(Williams) Lee 13-yard rush; 3 plays, 25 yards

(Tiano) Alec Murphy 7-yard rush; 7 plays, 40 yards

 

RUSHING: Dontavian Lee 10 carries, 65 yards, 2 TD; Nick Gibson 8 carries, 59 yards; Aeris Williams 5 carries, 38 yards, 2 TD; Ashton Shumpert 9 carries, 34 yards; Alec Murphy 5 carries, 30 yards, 1 TD; Nick Tiano 3 carries, 29 yards; Nick Fitzgerald 6 carries, 21 yards; Elijah Staley 5 carres, 19 yards, 2 TD; Damian Williams 7 carries, 16 yards; Alan Worsham 4 carries, 16 yards.

 

PASSING: Elijah Staley 17 of 28, 213 yards, 1 TD; Damian Williams 12 of 17, 173 yards, 1 TD; Nick Tiano 11 of 14, 137 yards, 2 TD; Nick Fitzgerald 15 of 25, 145 yards, 1 TD

 

RECEIVING LEADERS: Malik Dear 8 catches, 133 yards, 2 TD; Jonnas Spivey 6 catches, 103 yards, 1 TD; Keith Mixon 7 for 80; Deddrick Thomas 3 for 55, 1 TD; Brandon Holloway 3 for 55; Gabe Myles 3 for 51, 1 TD; Jesse Jackson 3 for 48; Justin Johnson 4 for 37; Aeris Williams 2 for 30.

 

TACKLES LEADERS: Kivon Coman 8, Mark McLaurin 8, DeAndre Ward 6, Kelan Chairs 6, Deontay Evans 5, Tim Washington 3

 

SACKS: Washington, Evans, Allen Perkins, Tre Brown

 

TACKLES FOR LOSS: Washington, Brown, Chairs, Smitherman, Brandon Davis, Evans, Perkins

 

PASS BREAKUPS: Gerri Green 3


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