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MSU looks to click again on offense

September 28, 2011

MSU quarterback Chris Relf, left, hands the football to running back Vick Ballard. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

As Saturday draws near, Mississippi State is preparing for their third road game of the season.
Unlike their first two road games where their offense was clicking and was the top rushing offense in the Southeastern Conference rushing offense, the Bulldogs are trying to find the rhythm that they have seemed to lose over the last two games. Even though things don't appear to be clicking, MSU head coach Dan Mullen doesn't think his offense is far from being back on track.
"I think when you're off offensively, you don't have to be far off," Mullen said Wednesday on the SEC teleconference. "(If) one guy off gets, you are out of rhythm on offense and it kind of really slows you down. We've been taking shots early in the season and we were hitting them down the field but we've just been off the fingertips the last two weeks. Those issues can really start to compound one after the other where you don't get into a good rhythm on offense. 
"You get out of that rhythm and you don't put up those big numbers that you will put up when you are in that rhythm."
To get their rhythm back, Mullen doesn't plan to make a lot of changes as much as he plans to stay the course.
"Our general offensive philosophy is we're going to spread the field and make the defense defend every part of the field and all 11 players on the field," said Mullen. "We like to play a little up tempo, aggressive pace and get after you. We're kind of going forward and backward with guys making some mistakes and not executing cleanly."
MSU spreads the field out by using a run-first spread offense, and Georgia coach Mark Richt has taken notice of that.
"They do spread the field and they like to go with good tempo, but some people spread the field to throw it and some will spread to run it and the first thing they want to do is run the football," said Richt. "They really have an outstanding run game."
To be able to run the offense that Mullen does, Richt feels that the coach has to be smart and he feels Mullen fits the part.
"You've got to really have a good knowledge of what you're doing and coach Mullen certainly knows what the heck he's doing," said Richt. "He's as good as anybody."
Despite the offensive woes, Mullen and his Bulldogs have faced over the past two games, Richt knows what they are capable of and said he thinks of them as one of the best offenses in the country. One reason he feels they are one of the best is due to Mullen, the running game and senior quarterback Chris Relf.
"(Mullen's) got a quarterback who can run and throw, and when you have a big strong quarterback like Relf, he can run that thing," said Richt.
The duel threat that Relf presents mixed with the talented MSU backfield of Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins, has helped open the passing game.
"When you spend so much time trying to stop the run, especially knowing the quarterback can run, you've got to get into a defense where you can have only one high safety or no high safety," said Richt. "What that does is it simplifies a lot of the coverages that you see and it simplifies the passing game and that's why they've had success doing both."
MSU has had some success, but another thing its offense has been struggling with this season is scoring touchdowns in the red zone. However, they have been able to put points on the board with Derek DePasquale making seven of his eight field goal attempts this season.
"Obviously, we want touchdowns when we get down there (red zone), but Derek's a guy that as a coach you have a lot of trust in," said Mullen. "He has been consistent over the past couple of years. He's going to be prepared and knows how to prepare and gets on the field and gets his job done. That's a comforting feeling to have as a coach."

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