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MSU wants focus to be on winning

September 21, 2011

MSU football coach Dan Mullen said his team has had a good week of practice so far. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

As Saturday draws closer, Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen still has his focus on getting his team back to winning.
"We're coming off two really tough conference games and need to get back on the winning track," said Mullen. "We've had a good week of practice and we've had a little extra time to prepare to find a way to get a win."
To be able to get back on the winning track, the Bulldog defense will have to fix their mistakes.
"We need to continue to improve," said Mullen. "Our young players need to continue to take steps forward and our veteran players have to make more plays. We did that more so against LSU than Auburn and we need to take another step forward this week."
One of the biggest problems for the defense seems to be being in the right position and in the Southeastern Conference, that's something that can not happen without the other team taking advantage of your mistakes.
"The quality of coaches and players that are in this league and how everybody executes, you can not make mistakes," said Mullen. "When you do make mistakes in the SEC, that's when teams jump on you."
Even though there can appear to be big differences between the top SEC team and the bottom one, but Mullen doesn't think that's the case.
"The difference between the top and the bottom in this league is not a huge gap," said Mullen. "It's the little mistakes that will flip the tide of the game and the team that makes the least number of mistakes and executes at the highest level usually finds a way to come out on top. That's why I think there are so many close games within the conference."
One problem the Bulldogs have been faced with that has been out of their control is the injuries to the offensive line.
"You like those five guys to always be working together and when you have injuries and you have to start putting in some younger players that maybe haven't worked with the other guys, it takes some time to get that chemistry together," said Mullen. "Unfortunately the first couple of weeks of the season, except that first game, we've had to roll some guys through so they haven't had their chance to come together as a team."
Mullen feels the roles for the younger linemen have changed from what he had planned due to the injuries.
"Younger guys that you're hoping will be developmental guys this year are stepping into starting roles and that's always tough," said Mullen. "They work together and we have some really good leadership in the older guys and they'll have those younger guys ready to step up and perform."
As most teams are beginning SEC play, MSU is taking a break from it by hosting non-conference Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
With the season well underway, the focus should be on the field, but with more rumors of the SEC adding another team have risen again. This time the team is University of Missouri. Mullen's response to the news was "I'm 1-0 there." He also added that they have a good pizza place, but didn't give much of his thoughts if they would fit in the conference.
Speculation has it that if Missouri was accepted, it would play in the West and Auburn would move to the East. Auburn's president said they would be willing to move to the East which could throw a wrench into some key rivalries.
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley didn't hold back on his opinion on the rivalries being put into question.
"It's real disappointing to see what all is happening in college football," said Dooley. "I think we're tampering with something that has made college football so special. I hope we don't end some of these great traditions and rivalries but I'm afraid if we keep going down this path, it's what's going to happen."
Since Auburn would be the one changing divisions, one would think Auburn head coach Gene Chizik would be up in arms over it, but said he didn't have time to think about it.
Chizik did weigh in on the rivalries though.
"Depending on how everything unfolds, I'm sure everybody will keep (rivalries) into consideration," said Chizik.

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