You look like you've lost weight. What did you weigh when you first got to State?
"I weighed 275 pounds when I first got here."
I guess you gained muscle and redistributed your body. If I remember correctly, you had a little bit more of a stomach on you when you first got to State.
"With this program, you basically can't eat anything. We have to watch what we eat, now. We have to get the protein that we need."
Tell me about the program you are talking about.
"We eat the egg whites for protein. And, we have the workout program."
Did they just start this new eating program?
What caused them to decide to do that?
"Guys were out of shape, but everything looks better now."
Has Coach Blake talked to you about what he expects from you this year?
"Yeah, he talked to me. He expects a lot out of me because he has seen what I can do. I just hope I can go beyond what he expects from me because he has coached the best (in the NFL)."
How important is it to you to have a coach who has coached some of the best defensive linemen in the NFL?
"It is very important because he knows what it takes to get (to the NFL). And he has played the game on all levels. Basically, he is mentoring us and we do everything that he trains us to do. He trains up just like he trained (the NFL players). If we can get his blessing, then we know we are ready for the big time."
What part of your game has he told you that you still need to improve on?
"Basically, coming off the ball hard everytime. As you know, I'm known for being a pass-rusher. That's what I'm good at. However, he sees that I have overall quickness. He wants me to use my quickness, not only as a pass-rusher, but across the board."
You are a defensive tackle in this scheme. What's the difference in a tackle and an end in this new scheme?
"We are making plays on our way to the quarterback. He will switch us around because he has told us he expects us to know everybody else's position."
What's the difference in Coach Cooper's scheme compared to Coach Dunn's scheme?
"You have to think more in the new scheme. Coach Blake teaches us how to read blocks and how to react. And everything is quick, up tempo. There is none of that standing up and just standing your ground; you are always moving."
It sounds like you like the new scheme.
"Yes, I like to be on the move. When you just stand there against big 300 pound dudes, you know you can't always win, but with the new scheme, you are always moving and can use your quickness."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher and owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial site for Mississippi State sports since October, 1996. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org