By JOEL COLEMAN
Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen met with members of the local media tonight. Check out what he had to say below about MSU’s first scrimmage of the fall, and Elijah Staley potentially playing basketball after football season is over.
- On the scrimmage:
“It went good and bad. For a first scrimmage, there were some real positives. Some older guys performed at a high level. I think Dak was pretty sharp. I like the energy our defense played with. I thought they did fairly well for the night and did a good job creating some three-and-outs. But as it gets going, into the scrimmage, some young guys got in there. There’s a lot going on for them. Some guys, it’s their first time in the stadium. A lot of errors and things you can’t have when you get ready for a game. Some blown coverages led to some big plays. There were some critical penalties and some false starts. Just silly things like that, that we’re going to have to get cleaned up. We can’t have those types of issues in the second scrimmage. You want to play good football in the second scrimmage. Clean football, where guys are executing and someone makes a play on one side of the ball or the other.
The best part of it was I think everyone was pretty healthy. They were sore and banged up a little bit but no issues.”
- On the play of newcomers during the scrimmage:
“Sometimes they got it. Sometimes they didn’t. You see a lot of the brook trout look. Like ‘I have no idea what you just said.’ When we go to the young guys though, we try to keep it a little bit simple and do a lot of base stuff when the young guys are in there. We’re base offense and more base defense so they can get used to playing in the stadium and try to execute more than going to more intricate plays. There’s certain things you just don’t call with the twos because, guys aren’t pulling, guys are running the wrong route if you try to get crazy off the base stuff. They were okay. They’re still the young guys. They’re still trying to figure it out.”
- On the offensive and defensive lines:
“They’re coming along. We’re young and still have a lot of development to go. When you are young, all those guys, every day they’re going to get a little bit better and a little bit better and a little bit better. Older guys, I think are playing and doing a good job. But it’s those younger guys, now you’re in training camp, you look into a game, we’re playing 15 or 16 offensive linemen right now. In a game you’re probably bringing eight. It’s going to clean up an awful lot differently. In the big picture, same with the D-line. You spend a lot of times letting those young guys get reps. I think the great thing is, we get a rep count from our coaches, the older guys don’t get as many reps. I think Dak only played, in a 165-play scrimmage, for about 30 reps and was pretty good in those. It’s the same thing with Justin Malone and Justin Senior and Chris Jones and A.J. Jefferson. Training camp is not to make us feel good as coaches where you say ‘Hey, let’s put the great players (on the field) and look how great football is.’ Training camp is to get those guys ready and the young guys developed to where they are ready to step on the field.”
- On what young guys learn in the scrimmages:
“I think for them, it’s just their opportunity to see where they’re at when they are in the stadium and things are expected. Also, it’s really one of our first times doing game situations where if there is a big play, we don’t just run the ball back and run the next play. You see the repercussions of issues. If you have a fumbled snap, it’s now 2nd and 17. In practice it’s put the ball back and run the play again or go on to the next play. So young guys, for them, it’s really feeling the impact of good plays and bad plays out there on the field.”
- On the next scrimmage (this Thursday):
“The next one we’re going to simulate a lot more. This one was really just let them go play, even though it’s in a game situation. The next one, we’ll create two-minute situations and (simulate) momentum. The next one, we’ll have the kicking game in there, so all of a sudden ‘Oh, there was a big kick,’ or ‘There was a big return.’ Now you have to face that momentum – a turnover with the ball going the other way. We’ll have to play sudden-change offense or defense. Those are the situations we’ll get them in. Now, installation is kind of done for us at this point. So now, this whole week of training camp for us, starting (Saturday) is much more situationally oriented. We’ll try to take all the install and put it into specific situations of game with red zones, goal lines, third downs, second downs, clock management situations and all those things.”
- On Elijah Staley playing basketball after football season:
“I’m great with it. He’s done it before so we know how the whole thing shakes out. We’ll work with Coach Howland and do that. I love guys who play multiple sports. I want to win, so if he can help us win in basketball, I’m all for it. I tell them, ‘If you can hit a curveball, go play baseball.’ I’m great. We had Billy Hamilton sign here years ago. We would’ve had a lot more stolen bases I think right here if he’d have decided to come here instead of go to Major League Baseball. I’m into all that stuff. I think the key is, when you’re open to it, and the kids know it, it makes everything much easier and the transition easier if he wants to do that.”