Offense Speeds Up The Preseason camp Pace
Les Koenning
Editor-Dawgs' Bite
Posted Aug 12, 2013

Just call it another case of changing a play after reading the defense. Or in Les Koenning’s case, reading the weather conditions. Because the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach might have to adjust what happens on his side of the ball if things get wet. So, “No rain this afternoon please.”

Especially not this particular preseason. Koenning in particular and Mississippi State in general want to maximize their remaining days on the Farm, most of all their four two-a-day dates which include Monday. Koenning came to talk with media following the morning session with updates on both the running and passing games at this mid-month point.

Oh, and by the way…don’t count Koenning for any ‘global warming’ comments these Dog days. “I mean the weather, it’s amazing, this has been kind of the coolest it’s been.”

The Q&A transcript of Coach Koenning's interview is directly below the video.

How does weather affect your schedule? “The rain puts us inside, we adapt. We don’t change the schedule or anything like that as far as running the ball, throwing the ball. We stay on the same schedule. Going inside you miss the heat and humidity as a coach, not as a player I’m sure!”

Coach Mullen talked about drops in the first scrimmage, what did you see? “The same thing. At the wide receiver position we struggled a little bit. They’re young kids, they’re coming along, it’s their first scrimmage and a lot of those guys first time in the stadium. We just need to keep pushing them, keep developing them, and Billy (Gonzales) will do a good job getting them ready to play.”

How has all the injuries at receiver thrown a kink into practices? “A big kink. You know, you’re asking now a really, really young kid to come in and play. And you know we can’t meet with them over the summer, so all of a sudden he’s having to learn everything, do everything, and now all of a sudden he has to figure out why. Well, he never gets to the ‘why’ part, he learns how to do it and what to do; and about that time the coverage changes and everything is new. So you just have to keep drilling, drilling, drilling. Repetition will get you better.”

By contrast you do have veteran running backs and a lot of them? “We sure do. They do a really nice job. There and quarterback and O-line we’re kind of veteran, it’s a lot easier in our meeting room. The retention there is easier, it’s easier to teach the young kids because the older kids have been through it.”

Coach Collins talked about his linebackers learning to anticipate things, do you see the running backs anticipating things now? “Oh there’s no doubt. Perk (LaDarius Perkins) has been running the ball really, really well. And I think it’s really critical for us in that area, you know we’re pushing the ball to run it, run it, run it; it’s obviously going to help our passing game when you can run the football. Everybody in the country tells you how about they want to throw the football, throw the football. If you have no running game you’re not going to win. You’ve got to run the football and that will open up so much more stuff for you.”

Do you see Josh Robinson and Derrick Milton making better progress? “Derrick was dinged up a little bit so he missed a couple of reps. But again those are veteran backs, that have been through it. They understand the path, they understand the reads, they know where to go. Those younger guys are learning.”

“I tell you now, Shump (Ashton Shumpert) is learning. And if you get in his way he’s going to run over you. I’m telling you that right now!”

He literally stands out with the other more compact backs? “He reminds you of Boobie a little bit, when you look at him he really does. I mean he’s that physical demeanor there.”

In high school he was good at finishing runs? “He does. I’ve been very pleased with his effort. As we go through there’s been some mistakes, which Greg (Knox) has got him corrected and going to the next step with him. But he’s just learning, just like Damian (Williams) is the same way. Damian is learning, going through. Damian asked me Coach, have I got to learn all these plays? I said yeah!”

This stage of camp, is this the chance for Milton and Robinson and Nick Griffin to get their reps? “Absolutely. And it’s been absolutely great. And Nick, I tell you he’s been coming around. You watch him, he’s pushing through it. Obviously he’s going to have to get that knee and push through some things, there’s going to be a little bit of swelling there. But he hasn’t missed a beat, he’s come out there every time. Josh and Derrick both have been dinged-up a little bit but at that position you’re pretty much going to get hit, now.”

Coach Collins said it was valuable having Tyler Russell testing defenses in camp, is the same true for what the new defenses present the offense? “It’s absolutely great. They’re giving you a bunch of different looks defensively, so it prepares you for the season throughout. I mean he (Russell) comes up and there are so many things happening at the snap of the ball, it’s just not a base vanilla defense. So it really prepares us to see a lot of things.”

What have you seen from Dak Prescott so far? “You’re going to laugh about this. We went out there with Dak and you know we put a boot on him just to protect him a little bit for one practice. And he threw the ball better with the boot on than he did without it! I said why? He said because I’ve been practicing all summer with the boot on. It made a lot of sense to me! We’re watching him but he’s doing really, really well. And we did it for precautionary measures. Today he’s out there full-go. I’m really proud of what he’s doing, again he’s anxious, you can see him out there. We had some fun today.”

Do you see him getting even more playing time this year? “It’s the same thing, if you remember with Chris (Relf) and Tyler, we were going to play them. I think we’ll have the same plan for Dak, too, have a series we’ll get him in there, play him, get him used to go. He’s had his time, just like with Tyler we’ve developed him, we’ve played him and we’ve put ourselves in the situation that it’s not new when he just shows up.”

What made today fun? “Oh, competing against the defenses. First down scrimmage, we had run, play-action, there were plays on both sides of the ball. So I was jumping around having a good time. And it was a little cool, it wasn’t just dreadfully hot out there.”

What is the process to trusting Dak’s arm more in big situations? “It’s good. The arm is there. I think mechanically, and he knows this, clearing his hips and doing some things, staying on balance and feel more comfortable with it. Because he’s thrown some really good balls, if you look back at the LSU game and some of the things like that he really has.”

What is his progress practicing without a boot? “He’s been without the boot all summer. And the workouts and stuff like that. But it’s precautionary measures, when he had the surgery you wanted to make sure he was OK. He had the boot on all spring so the summer he threw without the boot, but in precautionary measures you didn’t want him to hurt his toe at all. So you just made sure everything was OK.”

What is the biggest difference in Dak from last year? “Oh, again for Dak he is such a great leader. I mean he raises the bar when he steps in the huddle, he has a good time. The things about Dak, he gets so involved emotionally in the game that you have to control those emotions. Sometimes it’s really god and sometimes it’s really bad, as you well know with emotion that you can go up and down. You’ve got to get that steady flow. But people follow him, now.”

“With those two it’s amazing to me. And one of the things, you get a little bit emotional as a quarterback coach now. When you walk in there those two guys are such great friends. I mean they are competing against each other. They get mad at each other, ‘what the heck are you doing man?!’ I’m going yeah, good, good! So I don’t have to get mad! That’s a neat feeling because they’re holding up the bar really, really high. And then when somebody gets really down, Coach gets on somebody or something, gets on Dak or Tyler the other picks the other one up, ‘hey come on, it’s alright’. They just have a great relationship. In the summer they were going home and doing everything together. I tell them they’re married all the time! They get mad at me just teasing with them. When (one) walks in I say where’s your brother? He’s coming coach. But that’s the first thing I ask, where’s your brother? He’s over here, I say OK.”

“It’s remarkable, I don’t know if you saw last year. Dak’s first play when he went in we probably should have got a penalty when he threw a touchdown pass. Tyler came off the bench and met him in the end zone…I said what the heck are you doing? He said we scored coach! We scored! You don’t see that very often, the emotion of a guy sitting on a bench, Dak went in and scored and Tyler is in the end zone; he shouldn’t even have been on the field! But that is neat, that makes you feel good because those guys are really, really close friends.”

Related Stories
Mullen Sees Mixed First Scrimmage Results
 -by  Aug 8, 2013
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 -by  Aug 6, 2013
Griffin Feels Kneed To Speed Practice Pace
 -by  Aug 5, 2013

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