Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen got several quarterback questions today at the SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. Check out what he had to say:
Q. I was curious about your thoughts on quarterback play in the league. Obviously you had a great one in Dak, but there doesn’t seem to be as much experience coming back in the league this year. How do you think that will affect the season?
COACH MULLEN: Obviously anyone that was a real veteran quarterback has a little bit of an advantage during the season in that experience, just because those guys have been on that stage before. They’ve been in the moment. It’s one less thing you have to worry about as a coach.
And the experience that quarterbacks have, I think having a veteran quarterback is going to allow you to take some more shots, or take some more chances. Because you’re counting on that guy with experience and that veteran quarterback to overcome coaching. And, you know, to look and say we’re going to take a shot to throw the ball down the field, and the veteran quarterback is going to look and say it’s not here, I’m going to check it down, I know Coach will call that play again later and hopefully I’ll get the look I want for that shot.
Younger quarterbacks, sometimes you call that shot and they’re thinking Coach is calling a play for me to go make it happen, and they’re going to throw that ball up and that’s where mistakes happen. But, you know, hopefully at the end of the year we’re one of the teams that we can say we thought quarterback play might not be great but it was a lot better than everybody thought it was.
Q. Dan, playing off that quarterback question a little bit, you’ve had some great quarterbacks at Florida and Mississippi State. What are some of the things that are unique in developing quarterbacks in the SEC different than other leagues or conferences that you’ve been in?
COACH MULLEN: Well, I don’t know if it’s unique in our league. I know one thing in our league, you better get rid of that ball fast because they got good defensive ends coming after you. You have all seen that from some guys rolling through here so far. And some coming this afternoon, they can get to the quarterback in a hurry.
I think part of quarterback development is really taking the big-picture approach to them and making sure they understand every aspect of the game, of starting early on in their career and building them up and building them up in different stages to understand not just what to do or how to do it but why we’re doing it.
And when they really get involved and they understand the why you’re doing what you’re doing, they understand the strategy within the game plan, why we want to take shots at certain times during the game. I think that allows them to manage the game much, much better and be a more successful player.
I’ve been fortunate to be around guys that have, you know, great character, great work ethic at the quarterback position. And when you have those guys that really want to develop, they are going to develop it. And you can see huge changes throughout their career. And, you know, through the years, I’ve been very fortunate to coach some really good ones.
Q. Just a follow-up to that, would you say that quarterback is the most difficult position to play in the SEC, or would you —
COACH MULLEN: I think the quarterback positions, not just this league, but any really high level of football, just because of how much goes into it. You know, all of the extra time, all of the things they have to know. You think the time you break the huddle or you call that play, all of the different things you have to process within a very, very short period of time before the ball snapped and all of the things you have to process in about 1.2 seconds after the ball is snapped, the preparation, the processing of information and what you have to do at that position makes it, I think, the hardest position on the field.