By JOEL COLEMAN
By ground or by air, Dan Mullen doesn’t care. Mississippi State’s head coach just wants to gain yards.
Monday, at Mullen’s weekly press conference with local media, the Bulldogs’ seventh-year leader discussed his team’s heavy reliance on the passing attack this season.
So far this year, Mississippi State has passed for over 300 yards per game on average, while rushing for just under 145.
By comparison, last season, the Bulldogs featured a more balanced attack when they averaged 280.7 yards per game through the air and 233.1 per contest on the ground.
“We’re going to do what we’re going to do to win,” Mullen said. “It depends on how the game plays and how people play us. A lot of people still play us to stop the run first and we’re able to throw the ball. So (balance) doesn’t concern me.”
In Saturday’s win over Auburn, MSU again passed the ball effectively, throwing for 270 of 326 total offensive yards. Mullen didn’t indicate whether or not he intends to keep up such a trend, but did say he hasn’t and won’t concern himself over how much or how little the Bulldogs are throwing the football.
“One thing that hasn’t been brought up in our offensive meetings is balance,” Mullen said. “What’s brought up is how do we get first downs, how do we move the ball and how do we get the ball in the end zone.
“I’m good with whatever is working. If we’re running the ball, we’re going to keep running it. If we’re running it really well, let’s see if you can stop us. If we’re throwing the ball really well, we’ll keep throwing.”
Mullen familiar with Chavis
As Mullen prepares for this Saturday’s game at Texas A&M, he does so with a good bit of familiarity with Aggies defensive coordinator John Chavis.
Chavis has coached in the Southeastern Conference for the last 27 years, most recently at LSU before going to Texas A&M prior to this season. Mullen remembers Chavis from his days at Tennessee, where he coached from 1989 through 2008.
“The first time I saw a John Chavis defense, I was coaching at Syracuse in 1998 when we played Tennessee,” Mullen said. “They had a pretty good defense that year too.
“He always tweaks. He’s got his package. He’s going to take his package and build it around the strengths of his players. They are going to be very, very aggressive. Having very athletic defensive ends plays to his strengths of what his defense is and he has that. He has great man-coverage corners and that plays to his strengths. He can load the box, man you up on the outside and if you want to try to pass, he’s got guys that can get to you in a hurry.”
Mullen breaks down Sumlin’s offense
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has been known for building explosive offenses. He again has had similar success this year as the Aggies feature the best passing offense in the SEC with 358 yards per game on average.
Like with Chavis, Mullen has faced Sumlin numerous times through the years. Mullen knows that Sumlin will give the Bulldogs a major fight on Saturday.
“I think offensively, we have similar philosophies even though we might go about it in different ways,” Mullen said. “We try to spread the field and get the ball into playmakers’ hands in the open field. (Sumlin) does such a great job at that.
“They try to create those matchups on the field where they have an advantage and where they have one of their better players on one of your weaker players and they’re going to win that battle.”
Troy game time set
For just the second time this season, Mississippi State will play a game in the daylight. It was announced on Monday that the Oct. 10 home game against Troy will kick off at 3 p.m. The contest will be broadcast on the SEC Network.