A Q&A With Assistant Coach Mark Hudspeth

A Q&A with Mississippi State assistant football coach/passing game coordinator Mark Hudspeth.

Have you been a Mississippi State fan your entire life?
Mark Hudspeth - "I always supported all of our in-state schools, pull for everybody. But I was always at all of the (MSU) football games, all the camps. And my childhood heroes were Mississippi State Bulldogs - Jeff Malone, John Bond, Jeff Norwood, Marty McDole. I can reel off name after name. I guess that's why I became such a big Mississippi State fan.

"When I came to the football camps in the 7th or 8th grade, John Bond was my position coach. He was working the camp as a player."

Growing up a fan of Mississippi State, I guess this job is a dream come true for you.
"It is. I grew up in Louisville (Mississippi) my whole life. And everybody in Louisville, basically, considers Louisville and Starkville the same town. You go out and eat you go to Starkville. You go to all the Mississippi State games growing up. So, yes, it's like a dream true for me."

Prior to this interview you mentioned that you have a special talent that is MSU-related. Explain what that talent is.
"When I was growing up in Mississippi, one of my friends pretended that he was Coach (Emory) Bellard and I acted like I was Jack Cristil and we would do the Coach Bellard Show. Now, I can impersonate him about as good as he can himself. I have always been a huge Jack Cristil fan. He has always done such a great job of bringing the play by play to the fans in such a way that made us all proud.

"I loved getting outside as a kid, putting the speakers in the window, turning on the ballgame and cranking up the speakers with Jack Cristil blaring out all across the yard on a Saturday afternoon. With that crisp, cool air, it was getting to be football weather. There was nothing like it."

How you met Jack Cristil?
"No, I have never had the opportunity. I would sure love to meet him one day. That would be one of my dreams."

Are you going to let him hear your impersonation of him? (laugh)
"I would probably have a little conversation with him (laugh)."

When you were hired to coach at Mississippi State, a place you have dreamed about coaching at, what was your first reaction?
"One of the main things with me is I have been blessed to do what I enjoy to do as my living. I get to coach football for a living. I honestly feel like the police are going to show up at practice and they are going to arrest me because I'm getting paid to coach football (laugh). There is not a better way to make a living in the world. Now, on top of that, I get to coach football at the place where I have always dream of coaching at.

"I left a very good job at North Alabama."

And you were really successful there.
"We were 66-21, and 62-14 the last six years. We all worked awfully hard to turn that program around and had a lot of success. We were not going to walk away from that hard work and that success for just any position, especially not an assistant coaching position. But I just felt like when Mississippi State called it was sort of like momma was calling. It was almost a little hard to believe I was going to have that opportunity to come here."

Did it almost make you feel like you were a kid again?
"Yeah, I thought about what it was going to feel like to be on Scott Field during pregame warmups. Now, I am going to be on the field, looking up in the stands where I used to be that kid looking down dreaming about being out there on Scott Field. It is going to be pretty special. And it is also going to be special to be able to share that with my son.

"Another thing I was really excited about was not only coaching at Mississippi State, but the chance to coach with Dan (Mullen) who is one of the top young coaches in the country and is about to coach in the national championship game for the second time. I think it will be a great learning experience for me as I continue to develop my coaching career and my coaching philosophy."

When Dan Mullen hired you did he tell you what he liked about you as a coach?
"I believe the main thing he wanted was a high energy staff that got after it in recruiting, got after it on the field. And I believe he also wanted guys that had some similar offensive philosophies. We felt like that was a good marriage because we have been very successful offensively and have some of the same concepts. And he also knows that I know the state of Mississippi recruiting-wise. I have so many friends that I either played with in college, coached with in college, coached with in high school, was teammates with in high school or just guys that I have recruited with in this state. I have a deep respect for the high school coaches in this state. They do an outstanding job. I think they know I'm sort of one of them because I've coached in high school in the state of Mississippi."

You mentioned that you and Dan have similar offensive concepts. Where and when did that offensive style develop for you?
"It happened over time. (Former MSU OL coach and current MGCCC head coach) Steve Campbell and I developed a lot of what we do while at Delta State when we won the national championship. That's where our offensive philosophy really started taking off and when a lot of people starting looking at what we did. We ran a no-huddle then. We played at different tempos throughout the football game. We were very multiple. And we were really good at finding ways to scheme up so that we could get our best players the football. If you have some really good players on your team and they are only getting one or two touches a game you aren't helping yourself. You have to find ways to get the ball in those playmakers hands. That's where the schemes come into play. You develop ways to get the ball in their hands."

So, you develop schemes to fit the talent you have on your team?

Although you and Dan are guys who are really good offensive minded coaches, if the talent level is not that high can you still develop a good offense with that talent?
"I definitely think so. I've watched some film of last year, just watching our kids. I'm a Tyson Lee fan. We recruited him at North Alabama. I like him. I think what we are going to do will fit him well, cater a little more to his abilities. He has a really good arm and he's mobile.

"We are going to make the most of what we have. And we are going to get the guys in the right positions so that they can be successful. We are going to work them hard. And our goal is to lead the nation in fewest turnovers. We did that at North Alabama. We had nine turnovers in thirteen games."

Nine turnovers in thirteen games. With the type offense you ran that seems almost unreal.
"It's the way you practice, it's the way you prepare, and it's the expectations of your players."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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