September 11, 2011

Bulldogs prepare for quick turnaround

Mississippi State returns to the practice fields today less than 24 hours after a devastating loss to Auburn on the final play.

Quarterback Chris Relf was stopped at the goal line one inch away from scoring sending the Bulldogs back to Starkville with their first loss of the season.

After watching the film, MSU head Dan Mullen had no regrets about the play called at the end of the game.

"We made the right call," Mullen said. "I think we executed it very well. Their kid made a great one-on-one tackle right there. If Chris leans the ball out a little further we score and their kid just made a heck of an open field play."

The Bulldogs surrendered 235 yards rushing to Auburn allowing Michael Dyer to run loose for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Dyer averaged 8.3 yards per carry including a 52-yard scamper.

"We weren't in position," Mullen said. "On their big plays we had guys out of position and then we missed the tackle. That's what got you. It wasn't just that we had guys out of position or just that we missed the tackle. When you combine both of them that gives you a couple of big run plays and that's where they hit us."

Offensively State had another big afternoon gaining 531 yards including 333 on the ground. But Mullen still saw plenty of areas his offensive could improve on that could have helped them come out on top.

"There's a lot of things we've got to get cleaned up on the offense," Mullen said. "I thought our line played pretty well. We didn't hit the home run ball at all. We had three opportunities to make big plays and we missed them. Three of our red zone possessions resulted in six points. If we score every time we're in the red zone we win by two touchdowns. Some of those things we still have to get cleaned up offensively."

But the Bulldogs will not have time feel sorry for themselves following Saturday's 41-34 loss. Mississippi State will host LSU on Thursday night for the first game at Davis Wade Stadium since Nov. 20.

"We've got a short week so obviously we've got to jump right back into preparation to get ready to go for this game," Mullen said. "You can't dwell too much on last week when you have a short week and really one of the best teams in the country, if not the best team in the country, coming in here to play for our home opener."

Mullen is not too concerned about his team getting back up for this week's contest no matter how devastating the loss to Auburn left them feeling.

"Since I've been here we've always rebounded pretty strongly," Mullen said. "We handle adversity pretty well around here. It's kind of what our program is based on because year round we try to put them in adverse situations. I think they'll bounce back and be ready to come to work today."

Obviously the defensive breakdowns against Auburn is one of the key components that Mullen will try to work on in this short week of practice.

"We have to focus on tackling," Mullen said. "We've got to make sure that we are getting the exact looks out of our scout team and that we are fitting properly into those looks in the right position. That's going to be really key for us this week. When you have a short week you have to keep yourself simple."

The MSU coaching staff put together game plans and scouting on each of their first three opponents this season back during the spring. But with all the personnel changes in Baton Rouge since then it makes preparing for the Tigers that much more difficult.

"With a different coordinator on their offense and a different quarterback there is a little different flavor to them from where they've been in the past," Mullen said.

On the injury front, State lost two senior offensive linemen Saturday during the Auburn game. Left tackle James Carmon went down with an injury to his right knee in the first half while center Quenton Saulsberry also left the game with a knee injury in the second half.

Mullen stated on Sunday that both players had an MRI done and neither required surgery. He mentioned that with the quick turnaround this week it would be hard for Carmon to return but Saulsberry's sprain gave him a "good chance" to play this week.

This week the Bulldogs will work on the development of some of its younger linemen to help in the depth.

"We've just got to get our young guys ready to play," Mullen said. "They've been taking reps as twos and now some of these guys are going to have to step up and take some reps as ones this week."

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