SEC Media Days 2014: Mullen, Mississippi St. not backing away f - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

SEC Media Days 2014: Mullen, Mississippi St. not backing away from expectations

Posted: Updated:
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen speaks to media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen speaks to media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Tuesday, July 15, 2014, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Mississippi State has been a reasonably successful program during coach Dan Mullen's five-year tenure, advancing to four straight bowl games.

Now the Bulldogs have a roster that looks as if it can attain even more.

Mississippi State returns a veteran defense and one of the league's few experienced quarterbacks. Dak Prescott threw for 2,134 yards and 14 touchdowns — and also rushed for 13 touchdowns — after becoming the starter early last season. The charismatic junior is now the unquestioned leader of the Bulldogs' offense.

The defense has nine starters returning, including junior linebacker Benardrick McKinney.

Mullen said on Tuesday at SEC Media Days that his team isn't backing away from expectations and the goal is "to find a way to get to Atlanta" and compete for an SEC championship.

"When you embrace that expectation early on as a program, when you embrace that for this year's team, that's what they're working for from Day 1," Mullen said. "I don't think they shy away from it."

Prescott's dual-threat ability is a big reason for the optimism. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder was often labeled as a running quarterback early in his career, but his passing progressed rapidly last season.

He'll have some experienced receivers, including Jameon Lewis, Robert Johnson, Joe Morrow and De'Runnya Wilson, as targets. Lewis led the team with 64 catches for 923 last year and the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Wilson provides the big play threat the Bulldogs' offense has sometimes lacked.

"Dak is a guy that because of his skill set, he can beat you with his arm, with his legs, he can run between the tackles and he can run in the open field," Mullen said. "He has a lot going for him. But most importantly, he has that will to win."

Mississippi State's defense will have at least five seniors starting and several experienced juniors. The unit ranked fifth in the league last year in defense, giving up just 23 points per game.

Now the Bulldogs must prove they can break through against elite opponents in the SEC's brutal Western Division. Mississippi State hasn't beaten Alabama or LSU during Mullen's tenure — a trend that almost certainly has to change if the Bulldogs want a real shot at playing in Atlanta.

"It's going to be a big road," McKinney said. "In the offseason, we train every day for games like that to be able to play four quarters of relentless effort."

_____

Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

  • All other Local CollegesMore>>

  • Samford picked to finish third in Southern Conference

    Samford picked to finish third in Southern Conference

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 8:38 PM EDT2014-07-24 00:38:39 GMT
    Coming off it's first trip to the FCS Playoffs, Samford was picked to finish third in the Southern Conference, the highest the program has even been picked in the preseason since it joined the league in 2008.More >>
    Coming off it's first trip to the FCS Playoffs, Samford was picked to finish third in the Southern Conference, the highest the program has even been picked in the preseason since it joined the league in 2008.More >>
  • Alabama State, Southern favorites in SWAC

    Alabama State, Southern favorites in SWAC

    Friday, July 18 2014 5:11 PM EDT2014-07-18 21:11:55 GMT
    Defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Southern and Alabama State are the favorites to win their divisions.More >>
    Defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Southern and Alabama State are the favorites to win their divisions.
    More >>
  • JSU football picked by media to win OVC championship

    JSU football picked by media to win OVC championship

    Friday, July 18 2014 4:08 PM EDT2014-07-18 20:08:13 GMT
    Jacksonville State is picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference championship by media covering the league.More >>
    Jacksonville State is picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference championship by media covering the league.
    More >>
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Death investigation launched in McCalla after man finds decomposed body while bush-hogging property

    Death investigation launched in McCalla after man finds decomposed body while bush-hogging property

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 9:54 PM EDT2014-07-24 01:54:06 GMT
    The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has launched a death investigation after a man discovered a decomposed body while bush-hogging his property in McCalla Wednesday afternoon.More >>
    The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has launched a death investigation after a man discovered a decomposed body while bush-hogging his property in McCalla Wednesday afternoon.More >>
  • Governor considering special session to fund economic development incentives

    Governor considering special session to fund economic development incentives

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 9:53 PM EDT2014-07-24 01:53:09 GMT
    Alabama Governor Robert Bentley may call a special session in November to change funding for economic incentives. The money could start coming from the education budget.More >>
    Alabama Governor Robert Bentley may call a special session in November to change funding for economic incentives. The money could start coming from the education budget.More >>
  • Barber's artist skills on display

    Barber's artist skills on display

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 9:46 PM EDT2014-07-24 01:46:30 GMT
    It's called "Brushstrokes Between Cuts." And it's the first major art exhibition by local barber and artist Carter "Pooley" Moorer, Jr. The exhibition features 31 paintings that Moorer created during more than 60 years as a barber at Carter's Barbershop, his families barbershop in Ensley. Moorer's work is on display at The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute now through October 12th.According to his family, Moorer took only one art class when he was a freshman at Western Olin High School, which...More >>
    It's called "Brushstrokes Between Cuts." And it's the first major art exhibition by local barber and artist Carter "Pooley" Moorer, Jr. The exhibition features 31 paintings that Moorer created during more than 60 years as a barber at Carter's Barbershop, his families barbershop in Ensley. Moorer's work is on display at The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute now through October 12th.According to his family, Moorer took only one art class when he was a freshman at Western Olin High School, which...More >>
  • Jefferson Co. District 2 Race contested

    Jefferson Co. District 2 Race contested

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 9:43 PM EDT2014-07-24 01:43:48 GMT
    The election results may have been confirmed earlier this week, but the race to win Jefferson County's District 2 seat is not finished. ABC 33/40 has learned the election will be challenged. Someone has contested the election results.You may remember, only a small number of votes separated Shelia Smoot and Sandra Little Brown. The tight race was won by the incumbent.Brown tells ABC 33/40 Chairman Richard Mauk, with the Jefferson County Democratic Party was served the contest. We're told it ap...More >>
    The election results may have been confirmed earlier this week, but the race to win Jefferson County's District 2 seat is not finished. ABC 33/40 has learned the election will be challenged. Someone has contested the election results.You may remember, only a small number of votes separated Shelia Smoot and Sandra Little Brown. The tight race was won by the incumbent.Brown tells ABC 33/40 Chairman Richard Mauk, with the Jefferson County Democratic Party was served the contest. We're told it ap...More >>
  • Man found dead from apparent gunshot wound inside Locust Fork home

    Man found dead from apparent gunshot wound inside Locust Fork home

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 8:40 PM EDT2014-07-24 00:40:13 GMT
    BLOUNT COUNTY, Alabama -- A death investigation is underway in Locust Fork after a man was found dead inside a home late Wednesday afternoon.More >>
    BLOUNT COUNTY, Alabama -- A death investigation is underway in Locust Fork after a man was found dead inside a home late Wednesday afternoon.More >>
  • Samford picked to finish third in Southern Conference

    Samford picked to finish third in Southern Conference

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 8:38 PM EDT2014-07-24 00:38:39 GMT
    Coming off it's first trip to the FCS Playoffs, Samford was picked to finish third in the Southern Conference, the highest the program has even been picked in the preseason since it joined the league in 2008.More >>
    Coming off it's first trip to the FCS Playoffs, Samford was picked to finish third in the Southern Conference, the highest the program has even been picked in the preseason since it joined the league in 2008.More >>
  • C-USA commissioner says league has bright future

    C-USA commissioner says league has bright future

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 7:29 PM EDT2014-07-23 23:29:27 GMT
    The commissioner of Conference USA sees his league at a "pivot point" with a bright future at a time when he says intercollegiate athletics are transitioning from conference realignment to system realignment.More >>
    The commissioner of Conference USA sees his league at a "pivot point" with a bright future at a time when he says intercollegiate athletics are transitioning from conference realignment to system realignment.
    More >>
  • Tuscaloosa changes ordinance on ticket scalping

    Tuscaloosa changes ordinance on ticket scalping

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 7:18 PM EDT2014-07-23 23:18:58 GMT
    The city council in Tuscaloosa has approved an amendment to the municipal ordinance that now requires all members of a ticket reselling business to be licensed by the city.More >>
    The city council in Tuscaloosa has approved an amendment to the municipal ordinance that now requires all members of a ticket reselling business to be licensed by the city.
    More >>