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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

SEC teleconference: I listen so you don't have to

When it's a Thursday night game, you pretty well exhaust all questions well before the Wednesday teleconference. But we at the blog listened in anyways. Here are the finer points:

Auburn coach Gene Chizik:
  • Opening statement: "This is going to be an extremely tough battle. Starkville is always a tough place to play. Mississippi State is a much, much improved team from when we played them last year."
  • It's not Michael Dyer anymore. It's Mike. Gene didn't know about the name situation. "We probably call him a plethora of things." As for Dyer's game: "We know he's a downhill runner, if there's a crack in there he'll run it tough and he's got good vision and he can see openings and be able to make cuts. We know he just naturally has that. He just needs to continue to get experience, which we will continue to give him. I think with more gametime experience and the more times he gets to touch the ball, I think the better he's going to become."
  • He got a question about the 26 points the defense gave up, but defended his group a little, pointing out the good things the defense did: four sacks, pressure on QB, only 43 rushing yards allowed. "We'll get better," he said. "There's no question."
  • On MSU: "The team plays with a lot of confidence. You can tell they've got a lot better feel offensively for what they're doing. ... Overall, just night and day from last year."
  • On Cam Newton's big running day: "We didn't really know what to expect. We feel like he's got some escapeability. You never know how that's going to unfold ... I don't want to say that I'm surprised, because I know that he's gifted as an athlete. But it was good to see him when he had those opportunities to be able to do what we thought he could do."
And before Chizik went on, it was Dan Mullen's turn:
  • Interesting comment from Mullen, an offensive guy. "For us to be a successful program, ,a championship program, it's going to be built on defense. And if you look in the past of all the great Mississippi State teams, they've always been built on great defense. And we're not going to change that."
  • He didn't think this is a make or break game, but thinks starting off 1-0 in the SEC is a "huge advantage."
  • Mullen thinks Newton has matured as a quarterback, especially in his decision making. "I think at junior college he learned that maturity that you can stand in the pocket and make plays instead of getting out and making plays."
  • MSU nearly got Newton last offseason. How confident was Mullen about landing him? "I'm never comfortable in getting a player until I get that fax. That's the recruiting business there. I felt comfortable that we would have a shot to recruit him. He had offers from almost every school in the country. I think the relationship I had with him made me feel comfortable that we were going to get a visit out of him and were one of the schools we were going to consider. I felt comfortable about that, but as far as getting players, I'm never comfortable until the fax comes through the machine and they show up for classes."
  • Mullen said the team was close to burning the redshirt on talented quarterback Tyler Russell last year after a frustrating three-and-out in the Houston game. He told Russell to get ready, but the defense got a three-and-out and Mullen thought it was too short notice to put him in the game. Cooler heads prevailed and Mullen held off playing him all year.
  • Chris Relf will start at quarterback this week, with Russell coming in after a few series. There was a definitive plan in the first game for the rotation: Relf played the first two, Russell played the next two and Relf played the fifth series. Mullen expects to play Russell in the first half Thursday, but it's not a set plan. The Bulldogs will play things by ear.

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