October 17, 2012

Mullen talking Blue Raiders

Dan Mullen squared off against Middle Tennessee during his first year at the helm of the Bulldogs in 2009.

Mississippi State came away with a 27-6 victory in that contest in Murfreesboro but Mullen understands a lot has changed for both programs in the three years since.

The Blue Raiders are off to a 4-2 start to the year with three of their victories coming on the road including a 49-28 win at Georgia Tech.

"We're playing a very dangerous team in Middle Tennessee State that's already beaten Georgia Tech on the road - beat them pretty handily," Mullen said. "A very talented team. We've played them in the past, a couple of years ago we played them, so there's familiarity with our program, and it should be a very challenging game for us on Saturday."

The Bulldogs are coming off a 41-31 win over Tennessee last week and are heading into a showdown with top-ranked Alabama next week in Tuscaloosa. Naturally, Saturday's matchup with Middle Tennessee sets up to be a trap game of sorts.

But Mullen has been pleased with his squad's focus this week in preparation for the Blue Raiders.

"It's our last non-conference game of the year," Mullen said. "We wrap up with all conference games the rest of the way. Our guys right now, the focus changes a little bit with some of them midseason. But our leaders have stepped up this week and done a really good job of keeping the focus on preparing for this game, on preparing ourselves to continue to improve as a football team. It's very critical that you're constantly improving from week to week. We have to actually have a better practice this week than we had last week to continue to take strides in the right direction. Our leaders have done a great job of that for us this week."

That leadership from the upperclassmen is what Mullen contributes the team's early success this season. MSU finished 2011 with a 7-6 record but are off to their best start since 1999 at 6-0 this year.

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