Miami, FL (WLOX) - Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and his Georgia Tech counterpart, Paul Johnson, met with the media for the final time Tuesday morning before their teams square off in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Wednesday night.
Both teams arrived in Miami on Friday. After a weekend of fun, short practices and game planning, it is now time for both squads to put their game faces on and eyes on the prize.
Mullen talked a lot about routine at Tuesday's head coach's press conference. He said for his team, today is Friday, and they are trying to simulate the routine the players and coaching staff have followed throughout the regular season.
"It's Friday today, which for us, I couldn't tell you what day of the week it is, but it's Friday today. We're into our Friday routine," said Mullen. "We're going to do all the activities, festivities we have today during the day, but at 2:30, we lock it in like we normally would on any other Friday. Our offense, defense meeting, our walk-through, our specialty walk-through…then our regular Saturday schedule tomorrow."
Mullen said to be successful, his team needs to get off to a fast start against a Georgia Tech offense that excels in ball control and limits scoring opportunities for its opponents.
"If you get off to a slow start, you only are going to have a couple opportunities to even score points. For us, you've got to start fast," said Mullen. "The confidence that comes with that, if you can get off to a fast start, execute on offense, defense and the kicking game early, I think that builds the confidence into the players."
Most of the focus on this game has gone into how the Mississippi State defense can stop the Georgia Tech triple option offense. Mullen said while stopping that running attack, which ranks 3rd in the nation, is a big concern, the Yellow Jacket defense could play a larger factor in the game than many give them credit for.
"I think there's only one other team in the country that's scored more defensive touchdowns than they have this year. That's what makes it really a huge challenge," said Mullen. "I know their offense is pretty daunting, but they don't need a lot of help, but their defense gives it to them."
For Johnson, the dynamic ability of Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott could be the x-factor in this year's Orange Bowl.
"He can hurt you throwing the ball. He's accurate. He's got a strong arm, and he's got the ability to hurt you running the ball, as well," said Johnson. "Offensively, he's the leader of their team and a really special player. I think when you watch the tapes, sometimes the thing that impresses me the most about him, he can almost will his team to get down the field. He makes plays, and that's what he's about."
In the end, win or lose, Mullen says this season has been a spectacular adventure with a very special group of young men. He hopes the success they have had this season is something the Bulldog program can build on moving forward.
"I think in everybody's memory, I think this is a special year for everybody, a special group of young men. I think they've really raised and set a new standard for us," said Mullen. "This is the last opportunity for our guys ever to play together, last opportunity for this team to ever play together. I think they know that, and they're going to enjoy it and enjoy one last time out there on the field."