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By LEE ADAMS
During Mississippi State's overtime win over Louisiana Tech, senior quarterback Chris Relf seemed to perform in streaks.
His performance varied from drive to drive as he would struggle to hit his receivers one drive and then throw a perfect pass on the next. Relf's career has been full of streaks like this as a second-year starter and MSU head coach Dan Mullen seems to have a game plan for fixing Relf's streakiness.
"As a more experienced player, I think it's easier to get in and out of (streaks)," said Mullen. "He's still a younger player, he's only in his second year of starting, so even though he has experience, he doesn't have a lot of experience and we just have to coach him through those situations."
One thing Mullen plans to get Relf to do is develop a one-play-at-a-time mentality.
"I think it's just playing with confidence the entire game for him and having a short memory," said Mullen. "I think at the quarterback position with experience you get a short memory and you have to sit there and say hey this next play is its own play and have got to work to execute this play at the highest of level and not worry whether you're hot or you're not."
Offensive coordinator Les Koenning echoes the head coach and thinks Relf has to forget about the times where he made a bad decision.
"The most important play is the next play, so he's got to forget about those and he can't let that bother him," said Koenning. "At the quarterback position, there is going to be good plays and there's going to be bad plays. You have to be the even kill guy who is going to be consistent and we work on that consistency all the time."
Even though Relf had a few over-thrown passes against Louisiana Tech, not all the incompletions can be pinned on him as the receivers made mistakes as well. Despite the mistakes. Koenning never changed what he had in mind for Relf and the passing game
"We didn't pull back and we kept giving him the opportunity to get the ball out there and at times, it was there," said Koenning. "There were some times where he missed some throws and he'll tell you that. There were some times where the receiver was kind of in the wrong area. We have to get on the same page."
One reason Koenning never pulled back was because he has faith in Relf, who finished Saturday night's game 14-for-29 for 164 yards and one touchdown. Relf's one touchdown was a huge one as it was the game-winning one to LaDarius Perkins in overtime.
"If we didn't have confidence in him, we wouldn't have called the last play to win," said Koenning. "Everybody was saying no, no, no and then there's a touchdown, so we have confidence that he can get it done."
After Relf's touchdown pass to give the Bulldogs the 26-20 win, some questions about the defense were raised even though they had several huge defensive stops. Despite the questions throughout Bulldog nation, Mullen feels the young guys are still needing to take the next step.Â
"When you look at the defensive side of the ball, your interior tackles are veterans and your secondary are veterans," said Mullen. "Everywhere else, we're really young, so we need the young guys to step up and play well."
The interior veteran tackles are juniors Josh Boyd and Fletcher Cox and even though they have combined for 21 tackles, Mullen hopes they continue to grow.
"They're playing well, but they didn't play that great last week, but they are still improving and are still young players," Mullen said. "They still have a lot of improving to do even though they are good football players. They carry our defense in a lot of ways but we expect them now to be more playmakers than they've been in the past and they are still adapting to that."
Defensive coordinator Chris Wilson feels this Saturday's Southeastern Conference contest at Georgia (11 a.m., FOX Sports Net South) will challenge Boyd and Cox.
"Georgia is a more traditional offense that's going to pound you inside," said Wilson. "I think this will be a real good test for them to see where we're really at."