Actually all the press corps sought was coach comments on the closing act of his 2012 spring football session. The game, if that was what a contest played on a 2/3’s scale field—the north end was blocked off for the ensuing concert—could be called, gave fans plenty to comment about with a 33-22 final score in favor of the Maroon team.
In fact, with seven touchdowns scored by the respective squads along with two field goals, and a safety for the Maroon defense, this spring game was a veritable offensive explosion compared to most other years. The only deterrents to an even larger crowd for Mullen’s fourth spring game with State was the $25 ticket price required for the concert; and an unseasonably cool, windy Saturday on campus.
Such minor quibbles aside, this 2012 event lived up to billing. Even the big points put up did not diminish some of the strong individual plays made by defenders. So if from a purely football standpoint there won’t be much for Mullen and staff to really review, in entertainment terms it was all a super Saturday hit.
Well, with one loser’s caveat. The White team and staff will be back at Davis Wade Stadium tomorrow morning for the annual clean-up duty. No wonder winning team coach Chris Wilson was chirping ‘Maroon!’ at White counterpart Les Koenning in the interview room.
“The crowd is not as big as last year so it shouldn’t be as much trash,” suggested Mullen. Maybe not in the stands, but the concert area might require some serious cleaning up.
Otherwise, “You know, it went good. It was what you want,” Mullen said.
“I think we stayed healthy today, which is always one thing you want in a spring game. We wanted to put young guys who have not been in that situation on the field in front of some fans, in a real game-day environment. Put them in a position to make plays, and I think you saw that early on.”
You saw Joe Morrow drop some passes, Robert Johnson drop some passes, Dak Prescott start really slow on the offensive side of the ball. And as it went on they picked up. So that’s really the big part of this, is to get them that game-day, live experience, without it being a real game.”
Q: Jameon Lewis had a big first half? “I thought he looked pretty good. He was getting open, making some plays, and I’m pleased with him. But that is what you want, he is a little bit of an older guy. He’s played in the games now. And as you continue to do that we expect you to make bigger and bigger plays.”
“A lot of our older guys, we didn’t put a lot on them today. But the young guys, we wanted to put it on them and see what they could do.”
Q: Did Joe Morrow stretch the field like you wanted? “Yeah, I thought he did some good things. A lot of things he’s still got to clean up, and learn now to be an every-day player, and every-play player and be consistent. But it was good, it was great for him because now I can teach off of those drops. He came in and dropped his first couple of passes, hey, you’ve got to get out of your system. Because next time you step in the stadium there is going to be 55,000 people in here, and it will be even more pressure because it is for real.”
Q: What can you take out of this spring? “I’m pleased with where our guys have been. I’m pleased with the attitude. I’m pleased we have some guys trying to step up to become leaders. And I’m pleased we’re starting to develop some depth around here. It’s not you feel terrible or who is in the game or boy we can’t do anything with this guy in the game. We’re starting to get depth to where we have guys who can step on the field and roll through with the ones and twos and almost be a two-deep across the board at every position rolling guys through.”
Q: Quay Evans appeared impressive? “We’ll see. I guess when you split the team up sometimes it’s hard to see, I don’t know who he is going against all the time. But it was good. He’s another guy, he and Denico Autry, two guys there is their first opportunity to play in front of crowds. Junior college, they don’t have crowds like this. I’ve been to Morton High School, they have great crowds, but not to this level. They get hopefully these jitters out now of so the Jackson State game they’re ready to roll.”
Q: Does Tyler Russell look like a SEC quarterback? “Yeah. And I’m on him. We don’t ever doubt he can throw the football. It’s him, the whole management of the game and the leadership, all the other things that continue to grow upon. I thought his decision-making was great today, I thought he was pretty accurate. He was a little late on a throw or two. I remember one in the first half to Brandon Hill, he had a step on him and Tyler was late with the throw a little bit. Overall I thought he was accurate the whole day.”
Q: What happened with Chad Bumphis running into the (concert) staging area? “Yeah, that was pretty interesting right there! It was tough to judge, the officials are looking at me saying what do you want to do? I said we’ll call it a safety. If they had returned an interception back that way it would have been a touchdown!”
“Yeah, that was one of the interesting ones. We let each team draw up some trick plays and have some fun with it. It was like a quadruple-reverse or something, they kept pitching it back. It looked like a rugby match out there.”
Q: What did you think of the defensive line? “I thought they did pretty good. Josh Boyd played minimally, but the other guys came in and I thought did a decent job, got some pressure. We were pretty liberal with the quarterbacks today, so I think there were some plays that would have been sacks that we gave them a chance to throw the ball. And that might have been a little bit different in the course of the game.”
Q: Corey Broomfield did not dress out, was he banged-up? “Yeah, he was a little bit sore from the other day. He was on the same team as Johnthan Banks, and we were going to let each play like a couple of series and he was kind of sore and banged-up. So we’ll let Banks play the first quarter-and-a-half only and they were out. The trainers said he can go play, he’s fine. But why rush it if he’s only going to play ten plays at most anyway?”
Q: Do you want to play on a 100-yard field next year? “I don’t care, it’s fun, we’ll do whatever! This spring game is a really neat deal the whole day. I mean, for our baseball team got a sweep, I think our tennis team almost pulled it out at the end. Just the excitement around campus, having a huge crowd here and a concert, it’s fun.”
“I’m good, we got to play football today! I guess the only guy that didn’t get to step on the field today was Baker Swedenburg, so I’m not as paranoid, right? If he’s gone after this year then we’ll need a 100-yard field so I can put some pressure on the punters to go out there and punt.”
Q: Any concerns about kickers after spring? “We have some good guys coming in in the fall. I think the competition for the kicker will really start in the fall when those guys show up.”
Q: You saved a practice for post-spring game in 2011, not this year? “We’re done! What we did last year is we saved that Friday practice to a Monday. Because the spring game is a lot later this year our coaches are heading out on the road recruiting now. So we used that practice day Friday.”
“And that was it, we’re done! Unfortunately, it’s a sad day. I don’t get to be out there on the field with the boys until about August 3rd.”
Q: What did you see from the offensive line today and this spring? “They looked good and bad at times. I feel comfortable that we’re going to start to develop a line now into the fall. That there are enough guys that know what to do. When you’re coming in and guys are in the two deep like Charles Siddoway, Dylan Holley, Damien Robinson who haven’t really played a lot of football, and we’re counting on those guys to play a lot, this spring we didn’t develop the lien chemistry. It was them learning the offense, learning what to do. And now we’ll start to develop that chemistry going into the fall.”
“I’m going to put a lot on those guys, that if you’ve take a step back between now and the first day of practice then you’re going to find yourself out of the rotation pretty quickly.”
Q: What did you think of Banks on offense? “He did a nice job! He caught, he almost made somebody miss. He’s such a great athlete, you look at developing guys to play a little bit both ways; now that he is very comfortable playing corner, now it is a little easier to take some reps away and put him on offense here-and-there.”
Q: How much do you project using that during the season? “We’ll see. It’s a long season! I know he is such a great athlete, and he has size and length and height and jumping ability that he creates miss-matches. So it is something we’ll look at going into the season.”
Q: It is a big week for Fletcher Cox with the draft, what are your thoughts? “I’m so proud of him. Here is a kid from Mississippi that decided to stick and play for his home-state school. And now he is showing everybody you can come here, we’re going to develop players to become the best players in the country. Hopefully he is a top-ten pick in the NFL after only three years here on campus. That development, him buying into the program is amazing.”
“It really shows if you are a young man from Mississippi this is the place to come to school. We’ll develop you, to make your dreams come true and give you that opportunity to be a NFL football player.”
Q: Are you going up there? “Yeah, I’m going to the draft.”
Q: What have you named your daughter (born a eight days ago)? “Breelyn Elisabeth Mullen.”
Q: Anyone in your family named that? “No. No one was named Canon either, so I guess we’re creative!”