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When the 2010 offseason started, Dan Mullen wanted to shed a stereotype that he was only concerned with one side of the ball.
"I think everybody thinks I just do offense," Mullen said last December. "I actually spent a good amount of time with the defense too and have input there."
His new hires this year happily tell you the head coach has his hands in every aspect of MSU football whether they are expecting it or not.
"Dan is one of the most intelligent people I've ever been around," Diaz said. "It could be about the color of the paint in the hallways and he wants to have an understanding of why everything is the way it is."
It could be perceived that after his success as the assistant at Utah and Florida, Mullen got his first head coaching job on his offensive reputation. The MSU head coach has made a point of emphasis for year two in Starkville to be more involved on stopping team's from scoring.
Instead the 2009 approach where the Bulldogs had a veteran coach in Carl Torbush primarily handling defensive meetings and personnel questions while Mullen got his feet wet in the all-encompassing responsibilities of being a head coach.
"One of the main reasons that I went out in hiring a staff was to get someone that had former head coaching experience that I could turn to and rely on those different things," Mullen said during SEC Media Days. "Being year two, I had a completely different approach in hiring a defensive coordinator in what I was looking for in that coach. "
Mullen now feels more comfortable in 2010 giving his new defensive coaches feedback.
"With his offensive background, he can ask questions about why we're doing something that maybe we haven't thought of before," Diaz said. "You always want input like that."
When Torbush and defensive line coach Turner left for programs that had just hired a new head coach (Torbush bolted for Turner Gillâs Kansas program and Turner joined Joke Phillips at Kentucky), Mullen immediately hired two guys closer to him in age that he has consistently called innovative thinkers on defense.
âThey're not afraid to think outside the box,â Mullen said. âThey're not afraid to try something new or something different. You know, a lot of times that leads to causing issues for offenses.â
Hevesy evaluating OL rotation
Mississippi State offensive line coach John Hevesy joked Thursday the battle for the starting position at guard positions could come down to a simple luck of the draw.
The three-man rotation at both guard positions between Tobias Smith, Quentin Saulsberry and Gabe Jackson has involved all three getting plenty of first-team snaps throughout preseason camp.
"All three of them can start, all three of them can play," Hevesy said Wednesday. "Who will start, I donât know. Whoever I might pick out of a hat, Iâll put one of them in.â
Wednesday the Starkville Daily News reported the indication from senior center J.C. Brignone that Jackson, a red-shirt freshman, had been mostly playing with the first-team at left guard. Hevesy confirmed that as true throughout the preseason saying the Liberty native will be counted on for a contributing role on the 2010 roster.
"Heâs been the starting left guard. Heâs rotated, basically Tobias (Smith), him and Quentin are going in and out at that guard,â Hevesy said.
When asked about his depth at offensive line, Mullen was quick to point to his offensive line coach who he said he's known "longer than his wife" for the increasing quality depth up front.
"I think you have guys like (senior tackle) Derek Sherrod that have come into his own and we were fortunate enough to have him when we came in here," Mullen said. "John Hevesy, I think, is the best line coach there is. What you've seen is John's development of the unit."