Mississippi State's Dan Mullen was his usual fast-talkin' self during his main session today.  Here are the big takeaways:

 

* Mullen says MSU has built "a solid foundation" for "a championship program" by going to four consecutive bowl games.  This year his Bulldogs will return 30 players who started games last season.  He's certainly not ducking expectations.  According to the coach, last year's strong finish and the number of players returning has caused his team to "put a lot of expectations on themselves."  Mullen said he wants his team to embrace those expectations.  "We want to find a way to get to Atlanta this year."

 

* First dig at Ole Miss -- with State's expansion project, "We'll have the largest stadium in the state of Mississippi."  That didn't take long.  Maybe two minutes into his session.

 

* Asked about quarterback Dak Prescott, Mullen praised his "will to win" calling him a "tremendous worker."  Prescott "can beat you with his arm, beat you with his legs, can run between tackles and can run in the open field."  He also said that he feels his starter is "a much better passer going into this season" than he was a year ago.

 

* Asked about the SEC's new "play a Power Five team" mandate, Mullen claimed that State has schedules "regional teams" (meaning smaller schools) in order to allow their players' parents to attend their sons' games.  Well, that might be one reason, but lining up cupcakes never hurts, either.

 

* On the SEC West, Mullen said, "There are seven coaches in the West that expect to go to Atlanta."  That shows the depth of the division, he said, but Auburn's rapid rise last year shows that "it is a wide open path" to Atlanta.  So much for Alabama and Auburn blocking everyone's path.  And the fact of the matter is -- he's right.

 

* Asked about how much he tends to "put on" or "throw at" a first-year starter, Mullen responded with a unique take.  In his view, a quarterback's readiness has more to do with how prepared he is for specific "game situations" than it does his knowledge of the playbook.  "These guys work, they know the playbook."  For that reason, Mullen says he likes to throw guys into games at different points early in the season just to get them ready for real game situations.  He said many have questioned why he put Player X in at a certain point, but that's his reason -- to throw them into the fire.

 

* Mullen was asked about the fact he's a soccer fan and he made a comparison you don't often hear: "The passion that our fanbases have (in the SEC) is similar to the passion you see surrounding European soccer teams."  Mullen said that's "one of the neat things about our league."

 

* Asked how many of Prescott's run are designed, the coach said five to ten percent are called from the sideline.  "The defense dictates who's going to run the ball a lot more than we do."

 

* Back to the energy Mullen says he sees in his program, the Bulldogs coach said much of it stems from what his players learned after playing well versus Auburn and Alabama a year ago.  "Hey, we can score points against teams in this league.  We can play great defense against teams in this league.  We're a pretty good football team."  He continued: "Guys believe in themselves and I think that's why there's so much excitement in the program right now."

 

* Mullen also said that eventually there will be an early signing period for football.

 

* Relaxed and friendly, Mullen doesn't seem to be feeling any pressure.  After four straight bowl trips he shouldn't.  But the MSU fanbase is split.  Some believe Mullen is doing pretty darn well considering the Bulldogs' woeful SEC history.  But there's another group that wants to see improvement.  The Mullen/MSU situation might be one of the most interesting storylines in the Southeastern Conference this fall.