Coach Enjoyed Bulldog Energy To Conclude Camp

The official spring game ended sometime around 1:40. But according to Dan Mullen not all Bulldogs dashed to the locker room. “Our guys love to play football,” the coach said. “They’d go play for another couple of hours if they could!”

Alright. Maybe Mullen was exaggerating a little. Most Mississippi State players seemed fine taking off helmets, mingling with family and friends…and just enjoying an entertaining end to spring practices. Which it was.

After a slow start by both sides, the Maroon roster knocked out four first-half touchdowns including one right before intermission and coasted to a 34-21 victory. The crowd got to see all four underclassmen ‘open’ the post-Dak Prescott Era with their assigned series. Each made varying numbers and degrees of plays, often entertaining as hoped. And even Prescott got to throw one last pass on Scott Field.

Though, it was on the annual ‘Boobie Dixon Pass’ that has become a spring game tradition. This one had a wrinkle though. While the 2009 alumnus and former NFL running back came off the sideline far downfield to await a throw, it was Prescott doing the tossing. He took QB Nick Fitzgerald’s lateral after hopping off the same sideline and heaved for the waiting Dixon.

That wasn’t the only waiting Dog though. Sophomore safety Mark McLaurin was tipped the play was coming, and this year the defense wasn’t playing patsy. McLaurin got in front of Dixon for the interception and long return which set up the Maroons for a short touchdown drive.

“I wasn’t going to hit him,” McLaurin said. But, “I was going to grab him. And then let him go.”

Now Mullen will let the Bulldogs go finish their semesters as the off-season season begins. The best part to the eighth-year head coach was how his spring squad capped camp. “Even though you scrimmage and put them in those situations it’s different when you fill up the stadium. It’s a game-like situation, the clock is going, the scoreboard is going.”

“I saw some guys do some good things. I saw some guys make some mistakes that they’re going to have to go learn from. But it’s great putting that little extra pressure on them.”

The full transcript of the video follows with minor editing.

The official spring game ended sometime around 1:40. But according to Dan Mullen not all Bulldogs dashed to the locker room. “Our guys love to play football,” the coach said. “They’d go play for another couple of hours if they could!”

Alright. Maybe Mullen was exaggerating a little. Most Mississippi State players seemed fine taking off helmets, mingling with family and friends…and just enjoying an entertaining end to spring practices. Which it was.

After a slow start by both sides, the Maroon roster knocked out four first-half touchdowns including one right before intermission and coasted to a 34-21 victory. The crowd got to see all four underclassmen ‘open’ the post-Dak Prescott Era with their assigned series. Each made varying numbers and degrees of plays, often entertaining as hoped. And even Prescott got to throw one last pass on Scott Field.

Though, it was on the annual ‘Boobie Dixon Pass’ that has become a spring game tradition. This one had a wrinkle though. While the 2009 alumnus and former NFL running back came off the sideline far downfield to await a throw, it was Prescott doing the tossing. He took QB Nick Fitzgerald’s lateral after hopping off the same sideline and heaved for the waiting Dixon.

That wasn’t the only waiting Dog though. Sophomore safety Mark McLaurin was tipped the play was coming, and this year the defense wasn’t playing patsy. McLaurin got in front of Dixon for the interception and long return which set up the Maroons for a short touchdown drive.

“I wasn’t going to hit him,” McLaurin said. But, “I was going to grab him. And then let him go.”

Now Mullen will let the Bulldogs go finish their semesters as the off-season season begins. The best part to the eighth-year head coach was how his spring squad capped camp. “Even though you scrimmage and put them in those situations it’s different when you fill up the stadium. It’s a game-like situation, the clock is going, the scoreboard is going.”

“I saw some guys do some good things. I saw some guys make some mistakes that they’re going to have to go learn from. But it’s great putting that little extra pressure on them.”

DAN MULLEN POST-SPRING GAME

 

What was your impression today? “It was good. A great opportunity, you get a lot accomplished out here that you want to get accomplished. See some young players in situations they haven’t been in before. Even though you scrimmage and put them in those situations, it’s different when you fill up the stadium. It’s a game-like situation, the clock is going, the scoreboard is going.”

“And I saw some guys do some good things. I saw some guys make some mistakes that they’re going to have to go learn from. But it’s great putting that little extra pressure on them.”

 

Were you pleased with the energy today? “Yeah. Our guys love to play the game of football. So they have fun out there playing. They’d keep playing for a long time, they’d go play for another couple of hours if they could. But I thought the energy was good, the excitement was good. And guys made some plays and had fun.”

 

What did you think of the quarterbacks? “I thought they did OK. A little up-and-down at times but you expect that. What I want to see is how they respond to the down. And to me it’s about the consistency of play. I think everybody saw today all of them have the ability to make plays. And all of them have the ability to make things happen. Extend plays, run the ball, scramble, make some great throws.”

“But they’re learning it’s what you do on a consistent basis. Every single snap is the most important thing.”

 

How important is it to give four guys reps, will you have to pare that down soon? “We’ll look at it. Brian (Johnson) and I get together, and he’d done a great job of getting reps. I think at the end of spring you’re looking at a lot of guys get a lot of reps. So we’re going to evaluate what they did.”

“To me, the biggest one is we don’t practice again now ‘til August 2. There’s a lot of time in there, especially at the quarterback position, for someone to go and separate themselves between now and August 2.”

 

Of the four who was the most consistent? “I don’t know if anybody was. I saw all of them different days guys performed at a different level. One day you’d say OK, boy, this guy really did a great job today; next day he kind of yeah, wasn’t as consistent and somebody else has a great day.”

“To me the result is they’re all pretty even coming out of spring.”

 

What can guys do from now to August to keep competition going? “Well, everything. I mean you’re talking about leadership in the weightroom, leadership in conditioning, you’re talking about working your technique and fundamentals throwing the football. And they’d better do a lot of throwing, getting out there and working the different receivers and getting timing down. Getting in studying the film. You’ve got to do something 10,000 times. At the dorms at night taking footwork steps, you know, be exacting with their footwork. There’s so many things they can do that they have to do if they want to become great players.”

 

Did you like the tempo of the offense all of them ran? “Yeah. Today I thought they were smooth. I thought guys have had some better days than others in spring, I think today…a lot of times coaches are just trying to do a good job to put guys in situations to do what they do well and where they’re going to become most comfortable. And I think you saw guys do that.”

 

Did having some receivers out help young receivers like Malik Dear in spring? “Having all those guys, I don’t know if it helps anybody to be perfectly honest. Younger guys got some more reps. But I mean they probably had an over-load in their workload of what they need to do.”

“But that happens in spring. Usually in spring there’s some position that just gets devastated with injuries. Especially on a day like today, you go try to split the team in-half again, guys get maybe a little over-worked. But a lot of the young guys got a lot of work in. So hopefully it pays off come the fall.”

 

How do you feel about the defensive backs? “Good. We’ve got a good group of guys out there. You saw, I think the turning point of the game was the Anthony Dixon play. Coach (John) Hevesy went to the well one too many times after five-straight years of the Anthony Dixon play working.”

“Mark McLaurin I think had a good scouting report on that play, he’s seen that once or twice before. So he made sure it didn’t work this year.”

 

A bad read by the quarterback (Dak Prescott) on that play maybe? “Yeah, he kind of floated it out there! I don’t know, maybe he wasn’t quite ready for hwat was going on, maybe thrown into the action there!”

“But Coach Hev was on me, like hey, have you talked to Anthony, is he showing up? We’d better make sure he’s here for the game. I think they (the defense) saw everybody kind of lurking around in some weird formation right there. They weren’t falling for the banana in the tailpipe this year.”

 

Alec Murphy and Nick Gibson had big days, could you see them working into the rotation this fall? “Absolutely. That’s one thing we do have, some guys that we’re going to be able to rotate at the running back position. I think everybody is well who is the go-to, feature back? I don’t know if we have that. Because they all bring a little something different to the table.”

“And it’s going to give us some depth and the ability to rotate a little bit at that position this year.”

 

What do you think about the defense with their new coaches and schemes? “They did a pretty good job. Coming along. There’s a little bit of learning curve. But like you see, we want to be an aggressive defense, guys get after it, make plays out there on the field. And I think there’s a lot for them.”

“I think going into fall, now having the install and having the summer to study on their on their own and go learn and invest their extra time in studying the plan; going into fall and learning the second time I expect to see huge jump forward.”

 

Did Ashton Shumpert see reps on defense? “Yeah. Peter (Sirmon) asked can I put him in there, yeah he’s asking if he can go play a couple of snaps at linebacker, have some fun. So we threw him over there and let him go play a little linebacker. I don’t think he did much, it looked like they just blitzed him every single play so they kept it pretty simple for him.”

“But you know what, that’s what this is about. He’s a guy that has done everything right in our program. Get to go have some fun.”

 

Is that something you foresee in fall as well? “We haven’t talked about that. I have no idea whether we look at that.”

 

How did Tre Brown do? “He did a good job. He did a nice job, first spring coming in, learning things. Learning the system, learning the speed of playing in the SEC even though coming out of junior college there’s still a tempo. So it was a huge advantage to get here in January and go through an off-season, learn the system. Now he gets the opportunity to go really train this summer and get ready to go.”

 

What is your schedule like this week? “I’ve got a 6:40-whatever the flight is out of GTR in the morning. Head up to Boston, my wife’s got some restaurants picked out. Go get some Italian, some pasta in me tomorrow night. Got to go get registered for the Marathon, find out what we’ve got to get on the bus. Head out to Hopkington. Hopefully sleep well and get ready to go and put in a good 26.2 miles on Monday.”

 

As a New Englander in your first Boston Marathon and after what happened, how special is it to you? “Well I think it’s pretty special. You know, I’ve never run any race, any time. And I’m pretty blessed adidas gave me the pass to go do this.”

“And I always said I’d love to go run a marathon. If you ever run one, Boston is the one to go run. Not just from where I grew up for me, but I think for everybody the opportunity to go pick a marathon to go run, people would pick the Boston Marathon. The fact that I get to go up there, go do it, live one of my dreams and do it raising money for the Mullen 36 Foundation which helps kids in Mississippi live their dreams. So we get to go run that for a great cause and I’m really excited for it.”

(Post race plans) “I do think I’ve got Italian restaurants both meals. Certainly Sunday night. But Monday night? We’ll blow it out afterwards. I don’t think I’ve got to watch the calorie count Monday night after I run the race.”

 

Are Fred Ross and Donald Gray on schedule, have they had any setbacks? “No. They should be. Right now I don’t know that there’s anybody who is not going to be good to go when we report back in June for summer conditioning. I think everybody should be good to go by then.”

 

It seemed McLaurin was everywhere today, how has his development come along? “I think great. He’s a guy that got to play a little bit as a freshman last year, has confidence coming in from doing that. Now you watch him, he’s a hard worker in practice. Putting in extra time, knowing what’s going on out there on the field, being able to move and play some different positions. It gives him and opportunity to really kind of continue to grow as a player for us in the future.”

 

Damian Williams is the only quarterback to start a game, what kind of edge does that give going into the next few months? “I think he’s got a little more experience than everybody else. And the mental aspect of it, all because he’s been in the system longer. I thought he did some really nice things today. But it is who is going to put in that grind, that extra mental time to get that mental edge between now and the start of fall camp.”


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