News out of Starkville

Mississippi State football players are defending their coaches in the wake of the Bulldog's 0-3 start. <br><br> Coach Jackie Sherrill has been heavily criticized over the last few days, especially since MSU's most recent loss to Houston, the second straight defeat at the hands of a Conference USA team.

"They're up in the office working day and night," MSU defensive tackle Tommy Kelly told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger on Monday. "The coaches have done everything and gone over everything to prepare us, but they can only do so much. Coach (Cooper) makes the calls. If you're confused on the calls, then you don't need to be out there. People just have to pull the trigger (and make the play)."

Sherrill blames injuries and attrition for the Bulldog's defensive woes. Defensive tackle Kamau Jackson sat out two games due to an NCAA eligibility ruling and safeties Kevin Dockery and Darren Williams missed one game apiece because of injuries.

"The problem is that when you get ready to play and all of a sudden you lose a couple players," Sherrill said, "then you start all over again. It's like Dockery having to play different positions. It's the same thing with some linebackers. You're trying to get the personnel out there to make sure they all fit together. When you lose some, it makes you scramble."


Bad defense

The Mississippi State defense is ranked No. 116 in the Division I-A – not to mention  117th-ranked pass defense.

"You need to get more aggressive," Sherrill said. "You get rid of blockers and go make a play. The offenses we've played have been more finesse. Now you're getting ready to play teams that because of their personnel, they're going to line up and bloody your nose, too."

LSU has outscored the Bulldogs 73-13 in the last two seasons.

"This isn't Tulane or Houston," Tommy Kelly said. "LSU has a lot better athletes. It can get ugly really quick if we don't do what we're supposed to do. I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure (busts) don't happen. Our other 10 players on defense have to believe it, too."


Sherrill asks for fan support Saturday

Beleaguered coach Jackie Sherrill made a plea to State fans to support the team when LSU visits on Saturday.

"The unfair thing is that the pressure shouldn't be on the players," Sherrill said. "People need to generate that negative energy into positive energy to help them make plays. People have got to separate the players from the coaches. There are an awful lot of positive things this team has done. This team needs something good to happen."


Out of their league?

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal columnist Gregg Ellis made the point in a weekly column that even when Mississippi State was a decent team, the Bulldogs couldn't beat LSU.

"The Tigers have won 10 out of the last 11 against MSU, including three straight. And the last time they visited Scott Field, they left with a 42-0 win," Ellis stated. "In fact, LSU has won five of the last six here, and to say it will be six out of the last seven isn't exactly going out on a limb. This is a team, mind you, that is ranked No. 7 in the country and one coming off an impressive 17-10 win against then No. 8 Georgia in Baton Rouge."

Head coach Jackie Sherrill says this is the best LSU team he has coached against in his 13 years at Mississippi State.

"LSU is a complete football team - offense, defense and in the kicking game," said Sherrill, who is 2-13 against the Tigers. "Defensively, they have an awful lot of players that are back playing together. They have a team that has tremendous amount of experience.

"We will certainly have to do two or three things to beat LSU. One, you can't uncover anybody. You are going to have to stop the run. They are a heavy run team even though they throw the ball very well."


Practice report

Sophomore free safety Darren Williams hopes to play Saturday against LSU despite a sprained arch in his foot that caused Williams sit out last week's loss to Houston. With Williams iffy, freshman Jeramie Johnson continues to get a lots of practice time with the first unit as the Bulldogs prepare for the Tigers.


- Information was gathered from the Jackson Clarion-Ledger and the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal


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