"I am pleased right now. I'm seeing some good things. We have some talent, but have a long way to go as far as coaching the techniques and fundamentals."
Are there any guys that you have noticed that are back and were starters last season?
"I have been pleased with T. J. (Mawhinny) and Jason Clark at inside linebacker. I have a couple of young linebackers, (Marvin) Byrdsong, that I think will push and play. I have been pleased with (defensive linemen) Tommy Kelly, Ronald Fields and Willie Evans up front. Kamau (Jackson) is doing some real good things, too. (Cornerbacks) Slovakia Griffith and Odell Bradley, both of those two have been very surprising. Darren Williams is better than I thought he was going to be. He has a chance to be a great, great safety."
You've moved Kevin Dockery to strong safety. How has he done?
"He's taking the move well. He is probably one of the better guys that we have right now as far as the top 4 or 5 guys back there understanding (our system). He understands what is going on. And he has talent.
"We still have to have some guys to step up, but I feel very good about them. We have a lot of talent, a lot of talent."
Overall, do the players seem to be adjusting well to your new system?
"Oh yeah, they are really adjusting. We have put a lot in and our offense has a lot of different formations which makes you have to check. But that will make us a better defense as we keep going."
You really appear to be a very strong advocate of discipline. How do you feel that helps a team?
"I think you win with discipline. Kids take discipline. 99% of them want discipline. I just think there are some things that we have to learn. We probably have done too many things such as late hits and foolish penalties. Foolish penalties occur when there is a lack of discipline. We are going to be a disciplined defense."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.