Second Intrasquad Game Will Give More Evaluation of Preseason Installation and Development

Dan Mullen emphasizes competition in camp. Friday evening, his 2016 squad gets down to some more serious competition as Mullen holds the second and last scrimmage of preseason.

Mullen spoke Thursday about preseason impressions so far, and what he hopes to see from tomorrow's intrasquad competition on Scott Field. His main theme? Training camp ended today, Mullen said. After the scrimmage and beginning next week the Bulldogs transition gradually into game-preparation.

What are you looking for from Friday’s scrimmage? “Guys that are ready to go make plays. The lights come on, we’ve (done) installation, we should know what we’re doing. You’ve had an opportunity to practice it, should have the foundation. Just see who can go make plays when the lights come on in the stadium. Whose ready for game day a couple of weeks from now.”


After the first scrimmage you weren’t pleased with the quarterbacks. How did you see them bounce back? “They’re coming along. They’re still coming along right now. They’ve got to process things quicker.”

“And just decision-making, which comes with reps and reps and reps and reps and reps. So hopefully they’ll be better tomorrow night.”


What was the process like adding Wyatt Roberts to the roster? “Brad (Peterson) came to me. We had a whole bunch of guys walk-on with the team now for the first day of school. He said there’s a kid who’d like to walk-on, wants to get into coaching. I said well it’d be a great opportunity for him, if you want to learn how to be a football coach there’s no better place than to be than in this building!”


How does this ease demands on the (scholarship) quarterbacks with the scout team? “I think there’s three or four more of them now, too. So it will help.”


How are the players adjusting now to starting classes? “It is an adjustment that you get used to. Because it’s a transition for the guys, of transitioning to more on their plate. The great thing about training camp, it’s all ball all the time.”

“Now balancing the time between class and tutoring and studying, and football while you continue to develop is always an adjustment. Especially for younger players. And learning how to handle everything. But I haven’t seen many issues, I think the guys have handled the transition pretty well.”


Where does giving guys like Josiah Phillips and Kelan Chairs scholarships rank on your list? “Yeah, that’s a huge deal. If you have the opportunity to give guys scholarships, you have things open, that scholarship is open… There are two guys that have worked their tails off for the program, been in the program going into year-four, take care of their business in the classroom, take care of their business every day at practice.”

“Never has either one of them been in my office asking hey, boy, do I get a scholarship? They just showed up and worked every day. I think you show up and you work every single day, good things are going to happen to you in life. And that’s what we try to teach all the guys in our program. They get an example of it happening first-hand.”


Phillips never played 11-man football, was home-schooled. What was your first reaction when he came on the field? “Well, his brother John played for me (at State). I remember one day in the summer John came up to me and said Coach, I’m really worried about my spot because I’m not going to make summer workouts. I said that’s no problem, I know you’re a walk-on. You got a job somewhere?”

“He said I’ve got to go to Ranger School. I said I trust you’ll still be in good shape when you get back from that! So I was hoping we’d get another just like him. And Josiah has worked, done everything that you’d want the right way within the program. Maybe not the best football mileage, but someone that’s going to come out and give you everything he has every day.”


Are there any similar traits you’ve seen in the brothers? “Just that. I mean, they’re foxhole guys. They’re guys you get in a foxhole, that’s who you want with you. Because they’re 100% committed to doing the best they can every day whatever they’re doing.”


We see what he does in games. What is it that makes Fred Ross good? “Well, he’s a worker. I know he’s got a great amount of talent. But I think he’s a great guy for people to look up to. And I think he’s going to be very, very successful in his career beyond Mississippi State because of his work ethic.”

“I mean he’s a guy that is not hey, show up, I know my position; throw me the ball, I’ll go make a play. He knows every one of the receiver positions, he’s constantly working on his technique and fundamentals. Constantly working on catching the football, trying to get better every single day. And what’s great, when you have young players that look in there and say boy, he’s the most talented guy in the group, but he’s also the hardest worker in the group. I think that sets a great example for the future of the program.”


Ross, Donald Gray, Gabe Myles, guys that know the inside-outside receivers positions; how much does that translate to the quarterbacks still learning? “I think it helps. One, it helps with our depth right now. Especially when you get through camp and get guys kind of banged-up and nicked-up and not going full speed. You’ve got to be able to move some guys from spot to spot around.”
“So it just helps having a quality player there and getting used to throwing to certain guys out there on the field.”


Is the installation section of preseason done? “We’ll have a gadget or two here or there. You’ve still got to install a lot of special situations. And not offense, defense, kicking game; just some unique situations that will happen in the course of a game.”

“But the installation of the offense and the defense is done.”


Is Dontea Jones back with the team now? “Oh yeah. He’s still limited with the surgery.”


Peter Sirmon said camp is ongoing, what point does it end and game prep begin? “Tomorrow night. Well really today. Today was the last camp practice for the players. Tomorrow night we’ll have a scrimmage, we’ll watch film on Saturday. They’re off Sunday.”

“Come back Monday and we’ll transition. Monday is kind of that transition week where it’s not quite in-season and it’s not quite camp. It’s kind of like a bye-week or a bowl prep. Some of those kind of transition weeks you have where you get some extra work done, you make sure everything is cleaned up that you need. Even spend some time, everybody is going to go to scout team so scout team is going on next week. Just so guys learn how to go to the scout team, and we get adjusted to the offense and defense playing against the scout team, what it’s going to look like, how will we get ourselves prepared. So when we hit the field Monday of game week we’re moving.”


How do you balance the gameplan when you have competition at quarterback? “We’ll figure, we’re not really into gameplanning for another ten days. Hopefully we’ll have a plan of what it’s going to be.”

“But I’d imagine we’ll play more than one quarterback in the first game. That’s no different than we did last year. For us just to get it organized, after tomorrow night’s scrimmage, a couple more days next week, we’ll hopefully have that sorted-out by game week of who is going to be the starter.”


How has running back shaken out so far? “Each back is different. The backs bring a little something different to the table every single day. And how they run the ball and their size and speed and their skill sets are different.”

“So I see us playing a bunch of them and trying to utilize the talents of each back. But also just within the base offense they all run plays a little differently. I mean they’re going to hit it with different speeds and power. So I think it’s a good changeup for us.”


What challenges come from tight end with Justin Johnson the only guy who has played? “Yeah, one of the reasons we are so young this year, that’s one of those spots. Where you plan within the program for Gus Walley to be the starter this year. Unfortunately injuries ended his career short.”

“So it’s not just the next guy, but there’s also a trickle-down effect. Now your guy that’s supposed to be the backup is the starter; the other guy that was supposed to be kind of the third string guy taking special teams and learning how to play. It just trickles down which is always tough. So those guys have to get accelerated and get ready to get on the field.”


Scott Sallach said those guys think they’re giving 100% but it’s not, how do you draw that out? “You’ve just got to learn when you’re a young guy. You just watch it on film. We say it all the time, you go watch film and ask a guy and they thought they were running as fast as they could. And they watch the film and they go like boy that’s not as fast as I can run.”

“It’s just learning how to play at maximum effort. You know a lot of these guys didn’t have to. They were the best player on their high school teams and they didn’t have to maximum strain every single snap to be successful.”

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