Dan Mullen jumped on the weekly SEC coaches teleconference this morning, and he said there’s a greater focus at practice this week coming off a 30-24 win at Troy. The No. 23-ranked Bulldogs have talked all week about how that uncomfortably close game was due a lot to not always being locked in.
“This week, we’ve come back with great focus at practice and we were a little, I felt, we didn’t play our best game and lost a little focus during that game,” Mullen said. “A lot of mental errors. We’ve had a good week of practice, we’ve refocused that.”
There’s also been a lot of talk this week about the fact that despite the struggles at Troy, the Bulldogs found a way to win the game, whereas in the past they might’ve found a way to lose it.
“In the past, a lot of times, when adversity hit, a lot of people looked around and wonder who’s going to make the play,” Mullen said. “Now, when adversity seems to hit, a lot of our seniors and star players are stepping up and making the plays. That’s what I’ve seen in the first couple of weeks, but obviously to have a great season we need that to happen a lot more throughout the whole year.”
Let’s hit a few more highlights from Mullen’s phone chat.
• On whether he uses preseason projections of MSU as motivation: “To be honest with you, I don’t read any of those things. I’m sure our kids do, and I think our strength coach (Matt Balis) does. He puts some of that stuff around. I think he does it a lot more with all those people rank where our position groups are. Hey, we’re supposed to have the 11th-worst linebackers in the SEC. He’ll put that up for the linebackers and say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to go out and prove this people you’re a better player than what they say you are.’ I think we probably use more of that than the overall team stuff and the team rankings.”
• On using Chad Bumphis more in the wildcat formation: “We haven’t looked smooth doing it. We look pretty good in practice and then in games we haven’t looked as great but we have that package is in. I think with how the game goes (dictates) how much we use it for both of those guys. It’s something we’re going to carry with us throughout the year.”
• On where South Alabama is as a program in its fourth year of play: “Their kids play hard, and that to me shows me they really believe in what their program’s all about. That to me shows that a lot of their guys have come in from the beginning and bought into what that program is, and they believe in what they’re doing.”
• On whether it’s easy to overlook USA’s running backs in that spread offense: “How we played last week, we’re not worried about overlooking anything on our defensive side of the ball. They’re very balanced. They run the ball very well, they spread you out to give those guys open fields to run. Their quarterbacks, they play two quarterbacks, and those guys are athletic as well and can run the ball. And then they throw the ball, they get it out of their hands fast. It’s hard to create pressure on them. To me, their guys know their system, and they have plenty of talent.”