They played much too passive on defense. You cannot give the A&M receivers a cushion and expect to slow down that offense.
Fact or fiction, part of the legend surrounding the mythic figure known as Paul “Bear” Bryant is that the SEC’s greatest coach would pass credit for a victory to his players… and accept blame for any defeat in their stead. That’s a fine way to coach and it’s refreshing whenever a millionaire coach takes that approach in today’s game.
With that in mind, we tip our MrSEC.com hat — it’s a red and blue kepi with gold stitching, if you’re wondering — in the direction of Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen. The fourth-year coach got State off to a 7-0 start for the first time since 1999 this season. But then came a 38-7 wake-up call defeat at Alabama two weeks ago. Then that loss was followed on Saturday by a not-as-close-as-the-score-suggested 38-13 loss to Texas A&M.
Mullen took full responsibility for what happened Saturday.
“In every aspect of it I did not have them ready to go, and I’ll make sure we do a much better job of that this week.”
Yesterday, he took the blame for State’s defensive struggles against the Aggies and quarterback Johnny Manziel:
“We were out of fits, we were misaligned at different times, we had some poor calls. If you have poor assignments, poor fundamentals and poor calls, it’s not going to result very good. That’s on me to make sure we have the guys in the right position, in the right defense and executing in the right way to make the plays.”
We’ve made it clear in the past that some of Mullen’s jabs at “the school up North” have been a little childish, a little “Kiffin-esque” for our taste. We’ve got a bazillion “Why do you hate our coach, you Rebel-fan in disguise?!” emails from angry Bulldog fans to prove it.
But when someone says or does something we like, we say that just as surely as we say someone’s said or done something we don’t like. And we like Mullen’s approach following Saturday’s loss.
Mullen may be kicking his players’ and assistants’ rears all over Starkville behind the scenes, but when a coach takes the bullet for his men in public it typically creates a situation where his troops will rally around the general and fight for him.
Whether that will result in a win over LSU or not, who knows? But Mullen’s decision to take responsibility for Saturday’s loss is commendable. So we’re commending.