What is Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen Saying about Auburn?
Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen (Photo: AP/Rogelio V. Solis)
Auburn travels to Mississippi State this weekend for their first road game of the season. The Bulldogs enter the game with a 2-2 record, 1-1 in the SEC. Their most recent game was two weeks ago against UMass on the road, where they came out victorious, 47-35. Down by one heading to halftime, Mississippi State scored 28 points in the third quarter to pull away from the Minutemen. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald completed 26 passes for 305 yards and 3 touchdowns. Fitzgerald was also the leading rusher, by adding on 110 yards to his overall total.
Mississippi State is fourth in the SEC in total defense, by allowing an average of 356.8 yards per game to their opposition. In rush defense, the Bulldogs are also fourth. Opponents average 110.8 yards per game against their defense.
Head Coach Dan Mullen is in his eighth season at Mississippi State. He is 57-37, and has taken his Bulldog teams to bowl games in six straight seasons. Earlier this week, he held his weekly press conference to discuss the upcoming game against Auburn. Here is what he had to say.
Mullen opened by saying that he is happy to return to Davis Wade Stadium to play a home game. This will be the first time since their 27-14 win over South Carolina on September 10th, that the Bulldogs have played a home game. He also said that Auburn is a tough team, and that they will come to town playing at a high level in all three phases.
When did Mullen and his team start watching film on Auburn?:
Mississippi State is coming off of a bye-week, so they have had a few extra days of preparation for this game. Mullen says that they began looking at Auburn last Thursday. We get a lot of recruiting done during the bye week, the coaches. They spend a lot of time recruiting and then we evaluate our program to see where we need to improve and what we need to work on. That is done earlier in the week. Thursday and Friday we start looking at Auburn. We get a little jump start ahead just game planning.”
What about the Auburn defense stands out to Mullen?:
Mullen mentioned two players: Carl Lawson, and Montravius Adams. Mullen had high praise for Adams, saying that he could have easily been a first round selection in the NFL draft last season if he had opted for that route. He says that Lawson is a factor, because he is healthy again. Lawson missed the game against Mississippi State last season, due to a hip injury that he suffered during the 2015 opener against Louisville. Mullen also mentioned the corners, and top recruits that fill out Auburn’s defense.
Auburn’s Quarterback Situation:
Last season, quarterback Sean White got his first career start against Mississippi State. He ended with 188 yards and an interception on 20 completions. After watching film on White, Mullen said the he reminds him of a quarterback that he knows very well, Dak Prescott. “He is going to go get you some tough gritty yards when he needs to and can extend plays and make things happen with his legs when he needs to.” Mullen said of White. Mullen says that he understands the situation that Auburn has found themselves in, saying that it takes time to examine what you have, and how you want to use it.
Auburn’s third down defense:
Auburn’s opponents have converted a third down play 23 out of 76 times so far this season. Mississippi State, however, is 15 of 52 in converting. How does Mississippi State plan on converting first downs against Auburn’s tough third down play? “You have to execute. They can play great coverage on the back end and they can really rush the passer with a bunch of great defensive linemen. You have to be able to protect a little bit and you have to get open. We practice it a lot in situations.”
On the last time that Mississippi State hosted Auburn:
Two years ago, The third-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs hosted Nick Marshall, and the 2nd-ranked Auburn Tigers. The game showed the nation just how explosive both quarterbacks were for their respective teams. Both Marshall, and Dak Prescott, were the leading passers and rushers. Each rushed and passed for over 100 yards, however, it was the Bulldogs day. Mississippi State scored 21 points in the first quarter, and Auburn could not quite catch up. Mississippi State defeated Auburn, 38-21. The win gave Mississippi State their first ever Associated Press Number 1 ranking. “A lot of people have said to me it was the biggest game in the history of the school. It was a special day for everyone here on campus and getting a big win like that. It was a great memory that everyone involved that day will have.”
Mississippi State has won two straight games in this series. Last season, the Bulldogs defeated Auburn inside Jordan-Hare Stadium, 17-9. Auburn leads the all-time series 61-26-2, and leads the series in Starkville, 12-6-1.