“But our guys did make the plays. We have high expectations of ourselves. I think our team felt they should have played a little bit better. But we came out a little flat, we didn’t play with the emotion and passion that we played with last week. The stadium felt that way. Everybody in the Mississippi State program from the players and our coaches, we have to do a much job getting them up and going. Our students and fans, we’ve got to create that atmosphere, that buzz every single week. We came out a little flat and we’re going to get that fixed. I know our student body and our fans are going to get that fixed for our next couple of games.”
“It was still a sellout, though, they announced we sold out the game. I guess a lot of people were hunting in trees today so not everybody showed up! But at least it was a sellout, that’s our seventh-consecutive sellout, so the fans are doing a heck of a job buying the tickets.”
“We just have to get a lot cleaner. A lot cleaner. We’re heading the road next week and we have to play better.”
Q: What did you see in this matchup that meant using Chad Bumphis in so many ways?
“Well, I looked at it and I don’t think we were getting him the ball enough. We wanted to make sure we put the ball in his hands so 13 times he touched the ball and he got a couple of punt returns. Chad’s a good player for us and one of the things we have to do is make sure guys are touching the football for us.”
“We still only ran 62 plays today, that’s not enough. We need to pick up our tempo and run more plays and give our playmakers more opportunities to touch the ball. Because when they do some good things happened for us.”
Q: Were you surprised to see so many holes in the secondary, was that the quarterback’s mobility?
“Yeah, he did a nice job, he made a bunch of plays. I thought we had him corralled a couple of times, he got out of there and made some fantastic throws hitting receivers. Even when we were in man coverage and had a man covered he hit them in stride. The long throw down the sideline he hit him in stride, and he made some great throws. Give them credit, they’re a pretty good football team. They’ve got some good athletes who can make some plays on that team. So give them that credit more than us making mistakes and not making the plays.”
Q: Talk about using the wildcat?
“We wanted to give those guys the ball. We wanted to make sure we were getting touches to players. A guy like LaDarius Perkins, on the scout team last year he ran every wildcat snap against our defense so he’s had a bunch of experience doing that. Bump was a high school quarterback. I don’t know if we’ve done a bunch of it this year but we wanted to make sure we’re getting the touches to those guys; and those are the two guys that I felt would have the most experience in doing it. And there were some other guys that got reps doing it in practice, so hopefully we keep developing that package.”
Q: A couple of times you used Perkins in short yardage situations, a smaller guy?
“He’s a tough runner, he’s a strong, physical guy that can find a seam. And you maybe don’t believe me on this, we rotate the backs and it depends on whose series it is and depends on what carries their getting. It’s not in terms of ‘Perkins you’re running in in short yardage’. We try to rotate the backs by series, he ended up being in their a bunch when we had short yardage situations.”
Q: Can you talk more about the frustrations in the third quarter?
“We take the kickoff and drive the field and do some nice things; and then it’s sloppy play. Take a sack in the red zone, you can’t do that; then miss a field goal. That’s not like us.”
“Then we come out and drive down the field again and fumble the ball on just the simple exchange. We lose a blocking assignment. The next series we take a sack, our guard just falls down and we take a sack. And the next play Tyler (Russell) forces it down the middle of the field. Those are things that fortunately didn’t come back to haunt us today but if we don’t get them cleaned up they will come back to haunt us at some point in the season.”
Q: Do you have a name for the wildcat?
“No. Just, Bumphis at quarterback!”
Q: Talk about the day Vick Ballard had?
“He did a nice job, he had 119 yards, a lot of it on that one carry. I thought they did a good job, they kind of contained us a little bit and didn’t let us break off those 10- or 15-yard chunk plays. We hit a couple of big plays but they did a nice job containing us and getting to the football.”
“But that was a big one, that kind of put the game away. It was 3rd-and-short, and I was happy to see how fast he was! I thought he was getting caught, then thought was caught again, then I saw them closing on him and he was getting caught again. And somehow he managed to be fast enough to get in the end zone!”
Q: Are you adjusting the rotation so Ballard getting more carries?
“He already gets the more rotations because he starts each half. So the rotation starts with him, I think that’s getting him in the rotation right now. And we’ll see, the other guys still played well. Perkins had a pretty good day running the football, Elliott only got three carries when he was rotating through. But they haven’t done anything to take themselves out of the rotation. I think Vick is doing well to keep himself in the front.”
Q: Leon Berry broke out of the little slump he’s been in receiving and returning?
“The kickoff return was huge, it got us a little momentum back there before halftime. And I thought we were close on a couple of the first ones, we just fell off some blocks there at the last second. A great job blocking up front and Leon made a real nice run. It looked like he was going to be knocked out of bounds at one point and he did a nice job along the sidelines staying in bounds making a big play.”
Q: Can you talk about the effect Nick Bell’s situation had on this game?
“Yeah, all our prayers are with Nick and his family. Hopefully early in the week we’re going to find out a lot more. He had the surgery yesterday and it was successful, but they still don’t know what the extent of the illness is. We’ll probably know more as the week goes on but I don’t want to put anything out there that is not true. We’re hoping he makes it back and he’s healthy.”
(NOTE: After the victory Coach Mullen presented the game ball to Dr. Allen Sills, who performed the brain surgery on Bell in Nashville.)
Q: What did you see out of the kicking game such as from Bumphis?
“He’s getting better and better as a punt returner, I thought he had a chance to break one today. If he’d stayed north-and-south he would have, he kind of decided to make a guy miss instead of trusting and hitting it. Those are little things as he gets older and gets used to playing in the SEC he will see those things. In high school you can make a lot of people miss and still score; in college football you’ve got to take the first seam you see and hit it. He’s doing a nice job fielding the punts. He had a couple with t he sun that blinded him a little bit, that was our first afternoon game so far this year, he said he just lost a couple of them in the sun at the last minute and decided to get everybody away.”