A reporter from Mississippi prefaced a question to Dan Mullen on Wednesday with an observation: Georgia has 54 4- and 5-star players. And Mullen’s Mississippi State team has 16.
What does that really mean, Mullen was asked? The coach let out a slight chuckle as he began responding.
“To me it means they have an awful lot of talent on their football team,” Mullen said. “Besides that, probably not that much else to me, but you look, they have a tremendous amount of talent at every position. You have 54 if you say 4- and 5-star, only 11 guys are on the team at the time, or 22 on offense and defense. That means everybody on their two-deep is a 4- or 5-star potentially. So that means one guy comes out, another 4-/5-star comes in. You can see that on film, that they’re an extremely talented football team.”
The contrast exists at the game’s most visible position.
One of those Georgia 4-star recruits is quarterback Jake Fromm, who will start his third game Saturday for the Bulldogs in place of the injured Jacob Eason, who was a 5-star recruit. Mississippi State, on the other hand, has Nick Fitzgerald, who was a lightly recruited 3-star, overlooked by his home-state Georgia, as well as plenty of others.
Mullen was asked what he thought so far of Fromm’s decision-making ability.
“I think he’s done a great job. He’s a competitor. He’s used to winning. And he has that winning attitude,” Mullen said. “And I think their coaching staff does a good job of putting him in position to be successful. By building confidence, and not making it too complicated to him, so he can find a way to make good decisions and build on his confidence.”
Earlier on the SEC teleconference, Smart spoke of his respect for Mullen, and the fact they know each other off the field. Their lake houses are near each other.
On the field, Smart’s defenses at Alabama tended to get the better of Mullen’s offenses at Mississippi State. Now with Smart in his second year at Georgia, Mullen said he can see the similarities with those Alabama defenses, as well as its players being more comfortable.
“In the different checks that they have to make, the fitting every single play, you just see them improved,” Mullen said. “Obviously it’s a very good scheme, and I know Kirby’s a great coach and did a great job when he was at Alabama. And you can see the defense growing into that same style at Georgia.”
Mississippi State (3-0) is coming off a huge win over LSU but is the underdog at Georgia (3-0). And Mullen didn’t diminish the task ahead of his Bulldogs.
“Obviously this is a huge challenge for our team this week,” Mullen said. “Going to play a top 10 team on the road. A very talented Georgia football team, and having to go do it in a hostile environment. We have a tough challenge. Last week our guys answered that but that was at home. Even tougher challenge this week.”