MSU OC Les Koenning Talks RBs/FBs

Mississippi State offensive coordinator Les Koenning sat down with Gene's Page and talked about each of the positions on the offensive side of the ball. Today, in part-5, he talks about the running backs, fullbacks and field goal kicker.

Running Backs and Fullbacks

Your depth at running back appears really good. Plus, your starting running back, Vick Ballard made second-team pre-season All-SEC. Do you feel good about your running back position?
"I recruited Vick Ballard out of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The unique story about Vick Ballard is I went back to his high school and talked to a lot of people about him. His high coach was Coach Sissons. I talked to him and his entire staff about Vick. I have yet to find one person in Pascagoula who has one thing to say negative about Vick Ballard. In recruiting, you try to find everything about a kid. And usually there is somebody who will say something negative about a kid. Nothing was said negative about Vick. He is a remarkable kid. He has a tremendous work ethic. He is just a tremendous, tremendous kid.

"When I signed him I knew he was going to be good but I didn't know he had the potential to be this good. And he surprises me every day because he gets better and better. This kid is really talented. He runs behind his pads well. He sticks his foot in the ground to change directions. You always see him moving positive and doing really good things. Add that with his ability and you have a very talented player."

And you have a couple of players behind him that are pretty good as well.
"No doubt. LaDarius Perkins has done really well. I think some of the reasons for why Perkins is a really good player is due to the competition that he has with Ballard. They compete everyday and make each other better.

"I went down to St. Joe's with Melvin (Smith) and watched him. The one thing he possessed was great speed. Now he's gotten his body bigger, which has helped him. The physical part has gotten better. My concern with LaDarius when he first got here was his blocking. But his blocking has improved."

The third running back is Robert Elliott.
"Robert works hard, is a good kid, and knows what to do. You would like to see him take it to that next step."

You have a couple of really good fullbacks to go along with those three running backs.
"Adrian Marcus had a good spring. We played Adrian and Sylvester Hemphill at tailback a little bit. And both of them did a really great job. Adrian kind of stepped it up. At the tailback position we really had a hard time tackling him. He was pretty impressive.

"I was called by Michael Montgomery, who played here, about his nephew (Adrian Marcus). He told me his nephew wanted to come here and play. I told him to bring him on. He came here and never said a word. He got out there and worked hard and has done a really nice job for us. I have been very, very impressed with him. And Hemphill has done a nice job, too."

How has William Shumpert done so far?
"Shumpert has got talent. He's a very, very powerful young man.He's really got some talent but he endured that injury with his neck. It was tough for him. But he's coming back from that."


What are your thoughts about kicker Derek DePasquale?
"What can you say about him. DePasquale gets us into overtime against Arkansas. The guy makes field goals. That's what he does. He's very consistent in getting it between the uprights. I've been very pleased with him."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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