September 3, 2012

Mullen looking ahead to Auburn

Mississippi State accomplished what it needed to on Saturday during its 56-9 win over Jackson State.

The Bulldogs earned the victory and got plenty of playing time for their younger players. But this week will be totally a totally different story.

MSU will host Auburn to open up conference play, a team that escaped with narrow victories in each of the past two seasons. The Tigers won 17-14 in Starkville in 2010 en route to a national championship and claimed a 41-34 decision last season on the plains with a goal line stand in the waning moments.

Will this year finally be the year the Bulldogs get over the hump against Auburn? State head coach Dan Mullen certainly thinks so.

"We've been right there and had opportunities to win and didn't pull it out," Mullen said. "I think our guys are motivated and know how big it is. They always put that emphasis on the first conference game of the season. It's so important. They will be ready to go, fired up and ready to play. I think they are going to be ready to find a way to pull it out here in the end finally this year."

The Tigers fell in their opener this past weekend to Clemson 26-19 inside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Mullen believes Auburn's best days are ahead of them and are still adjusting to the offseason changes within its coaching staff on both sides of the ball.

"I think they are finding themselves," Mullen said. "They have two new coordinators. They've got a new offense and a new defense. I think they are still working out the kinks and trying to find out what their identity is going to be with this year's team. I think you will see some things similar possibly and some new things we didn't see (Saturday)."

The Tigers sophomore quarterback Kiehl Frazier completed 11-of-27 passing for 194 touchdowns, one touchdown and one interception after getting the starting job during fall camp. The 6-foot-2, 226-pounder from Springdale, Ark., is a player that Mullen is very familiar with.

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