Will the Success or Failure of 2012 Define Dan Mullen?


These days folks want results as quickly as possible. I don’t discount myself in that group, so sometimes I try to step back to gain perspective. After Dan Mullen brought MSU to a somewhat surprising 9-4 record in 2010, most State fans where looking to at least equal that in 2011. It didn’t happen. Still, 7-6 will do for now…as long as we do better in 2012, right?

When the schedules came out in late December, everyone looked at the first seven games as winnable. That’s fair. But while we are taking into account how we perceive other teams, we can’t overlook our own shortcomings. The fact is, MSU is handing over the reigns at quarterback and running back. On the offensive line – one that was mediocre in 2011 – State loses three seniors. There is talent to replace these guys, but there are a lot of unknowns. Defense seems a little more stable, even with the loss of Fletcher Cox and Charles Mitchell.

I haven’t gone through every SEC team yet, I’ll save that for the summer time. But after spring practice, I don’t feel like this is a better team than the 2011 group. And that just means a team that could end up anywhere between 6-6 and 8-4. If we go 6-6 again, or even 7-5, I’m not going to feel like Dan Mullen won’t ever be able to get it done here. 2012 – to me – just doesn’t seem like it has the makings of a great team. But 2013, that is a different story.

The 2013 team should have a senior QB in Tyler Russell, plus Dak Prescott with another year under his belt. All the running backs and the entire offensive line will be coming back. The WRs will lose four seniors, but it shouldn’t dip too much with the likes of Jameon Lewis, Joe Morrow, Ricco Sanders, etc. The D-line will continue to be stout, likely only losing Josh Boyd from a key role. Cam Lawrence will graduate at LB, but there is talent to replace him. Safety should be good with Whitley, Dee Arrington and Jay Hughes. Obviously the biggest concern would be cornerback where Johnthan Banks, Corey Broomfield and Darius Slay would all be leaving. But with Will Redmond and other guys stepping up I don’t feel as uneasy about it as this year’s O-line.

I’m not going to dismiss the 2012 team but I’m not going to hang my hat on them either. The schedule does set up well for a nice start before murderer’s row down the stretch; the ’13 schedule could be even better though. Barring any huge changes, LSU and Alabama will be coming to Starkville. With what I outlined above that is the recipe for making a run at another trip to Atlanta.

I’m not trying to temper expectations or give Mullen an excuse. I just hate for MSU fans to expect 9 or 10 wins just because it’s year four. The bottom line is, Mullen is doing a good job and he’s building the program. We all know that we’re probably not going to compete for championships year in and year out, so it’s the seasons like 2013 that we have to look to with our highest expectations.