Mullen: "The Plays Were There To Be Made"

"It was a disappointing night for us. I know our guys put in a lot of hard work, we have to do a much better job as a coaching staff, I'm really disappointed with our coaching staff. Especially myself tonight, not putting our players in better position to be successful."

"It's completely unacceptable for us to give up almost 400 yards rushing, that's not Mississippi State defense. And offensively we need to convert on some third downs, stay on the field and take some of that pressure off of our defense. I don't think we did that tonight. We didn't make big plays, the plays were there to be made. Their guys made them and we didn't. We have to a better job to put our guys in position to make those big plays."

"We'll come back out and have a lot of work to do, to clean some things up and get an opportunity to find a way to win next week's game at Vanderbilt."

Q: What was the problem with the defense? "They had a couple of big (mistakes), just missing some of the big plays. They threw a couple of balls up for grabs and our guys were just inches away in playing the ball in the air. I think as that went we lost a little bit of momentum, our offense in a couple of drives were a little herky-jerky not being able to get the defense off the field. That's a big, big contributing factor to it as well."

Q: What made stopping Auburn tonight so difficult? "They do a good job and have good schemes, they mixed the ball around. I mean, two guys with over 100 yards rushing. At times I thought we did a good job defending them, just gave up big plays. You can't do that, you can't give up 3rd-and-longs, that's going to come back and get you. You've got to get the defense off the field, and the offense has got to keep them off the field."

Q: How would you gauge Chris Relf's emotions right now? "It's a learning process and he's still got a lot of learning curve to do. He's a young guy, still not a whole lot of experience. And I think he did a decent job of coming back from that at times. We've got to clean some things up, and put him in a position to be a little bit more successful. Chris is going to learn from this, Chris is continually developing, I see improvement every single day. What we've got to do is help him build his confidence as a quarterback and get him ready for the future."

Q: Some of the freshmen who had big games last week were not factors today? "We've got to give them the ball a little bit more and get those guys in the open field. They (Auburn) did a good job of keeping us off-schedule and not getting into the flow of things on offense to give those guys the ball. One of the things too, when you get on the road you have go a little more with your older guys, rely on their experience."

Q: Were you surprised in the third quarter by Auburn's dominance, after the second quarter? "I think that drive at the end of the first half gave them a little bit of momentum going into halftime. We came out the second half, and what gets you is the offensive execution. We were trying to build some momentum and start off with two-straight penalties, it just kills a drive for you. The offense never got back into the flow at that point of the game; as soon as that happened it really boosted Auburn, their offense got rolling and our offense really didn't take the momentum back they needed to."

Q: What did you see on the blocked punt? "I don't know who got it. We wanted to go after them and be attacking. We're always going to try to attack on special teams. I thought that was going to be a big turning point for us, obviously a big emotional lift for our team blocking that punt."

"But they came back, we had two guys there to contain the fake punt and their guy did a good job getting to the edge and running around both our guys who were waiting right there to make the play. I've got to do a better job getting a third guy there to help contain that."

Q: Can you analyze Anthony Dixon's performance? "For his first game of the season, coming off not playing last week, he did a good job running the ball. I really would like to distribute it more between the backs and get some more carries for Christian Ducre and Arnil Stallworth as well. But I thought Anthony came out and ran hard, played hard."

"I was pleased our guys played with effort for four quarters. There wasn't anything I didn't see our guys play with effort. That's one thing we ask of them, is to play with effort for four quarters. If we can take one thing out of it I was pleased with the fact they gave effort for four quarters."

Q: Was the use of the three-man front to get more speed on the edges? "Yeah, it was just trying to match up against their different formations and their different personnel groups. We went to some of those things to try to get some faster guys on the field for us."


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