MSU's Mullen stresses importance of player development over summer

MSU football coach Dan Mullen, right
Staff Writer

It’s officially the football offseason.
Mississippi State concluded spring practice earlier this week when the Bulldogs conducted the last of their 15 spring workouts this past Tuesday.
MSU head coach Dan Mullen said it was a productive spring for his team. However, just because it’s over with doesn’t mean players can let up in Mullen's mind.
“It’s a couple of different things,” Mullen said. “One is finals. They’ve all got to finish strong in the classroom and there are a couple of weeks left of school. They have a little more free time now, but what I always notice is that more free time leads to less studying sometimes. You get into a routine when you are very structured and organized, then all of a sudden there is free time and that free time can be what expands. Instead of adding two hours of studying, it can become four hours of off time, so we have to finish up strong in the classroom. That’s a huge part.”
Less than a month of classes remain this semester for MSU. Mullen absolutely wants his players excelling academically. He doesn’t want football getting too far from his guys’ minds though.
“The next biggest thing is where do we pick up (on the football field),” Mullen said. “We have about 15 weeks until we practice again. That is a long time. Imagine you are a golfer, a basketball player, a tennis player or a baseball player. You take 15 weeks off before you start the season and it’s probably not a good thing. (The team) has to go work on technique, fundamentals, on their scheme, studying film and they have to be better players when we come back than we are right now. If we take any step backwards, it will be a long season.”
In the moments following last weekend’s Maroon and White game, players were already talking about their offseason plans. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald talked of his throwing program that will include many of his teammates. Running back Aeris Williams spoke of his plans to improve all aspects of his game. Several other Bulldogs mentioned how important the summer months are.
Mullen agrees. The dog days of summer are nearing for MSU, but the season isn’t too far off in the distance. With that in mind, and the brutal Southeastern Conference schedule looming, Mullen says the Bulldogs can’t afford to take things easy in the next few months.
“It’s so big,” Mullen said of the summer months. “The key to success is the guys coming out and (the question this fall is) are they at the same level or above how we walked off the field this spring.”