I interviewed Tommy Watson after Wednesday's practice. He discussed switching from guard to center, how the players are reacting to the excitement of the upcoming football season and the play of a couple of the defensive line newcomers.

Talk about how the offense is looking after a few weeks of practice?
Tommy Watson: "The offense has come a long, long way since that first scrimmage. The defense dominated us that scrimmage. In the scrimmage the following Saturday, we had a 15-play touchdown drive against all three defenses. That really helped our confidence. We are trying to build on that."

You are new to the center position this year. How has it been working out for you and Wayne as you adjust to each other?
Tommy Watson: "We have had one fumbled snap and it was the first play in two-a-days. I was so pumped that I threw it back to Wayne. Since then, I have been concentrating on getting the ball to Wayne."

Do you feel you are where you want to be as far as learning the center position?
Tommy Watson: "I don't think that I am that far away and we have another week to go. I have a few minor things that I feel need to be worked out."

You seem to have taken on a leadership role this year. Have you made a concerted effort to become more of a leader?
Tommy Watson: "Yes, that is part of the reason that I am wearing the black shirt. Coach Sherrill has given out these shirts to the players that are playmakers, all-conference type players. This is my last year and I'm trying to help make sure we go out with a bang."

Speaking of going out with a bang, I know from reading the posts on my website message board that Mississippi State fans are as excited as they have ever been about a football season. Are the football players feeling that same excitement?
Tommy Watson: "Yes, a few of us were talking about that in the locker room the other day. An example is Fan Day coming up this Saturday. There were about 5,000 people here last year and we were wondering how many people there would be this year due to the excitement. They have a good reason to be excited because we have a great team this year. We are just as excited as they are and can't wait to see what we can do on September 3rd."

How do you as a leader make sure that the excitement doesn't hurt the team when you play Memphis?
Tommy Watson: "I have been here going on two years now and I believe I can speak for everybody when I say no player, no fan, no coach is going to overlook Memphis. Another thing is we are going to try and carry this hard work that we have been doing over to the field."

You have played head to head against some of these new defensive linemen. What is your impression of them?
Tommy Watson: "I tell you (true freshman) Ronald Fields is definitely a great player. Ronald is directly in front of me on every play. I played against some great ones last year but he is right up there with them, even as young as he is. I believe, before he leaves here, he will be one of the most talented defensive linemen to have ever played here. I really do. He is the real deal. I am glad he is on our side. I am glad that I don't have to block him on Saturday."

He is similar to you in the fact that both of you carry your weight well.
Tommy Watson: "He looks great. I bet he doesn't have more than 10 to 12% body fat (Fields is 6-2 and weighs 286). He is very quick on his feet. He probably runs a 4.8 or 4.9 (forty-yard dash). The other (noseguard) playing behind him is (juco transfer) Dannie Snyder. He is just as good. Snyder is kind of like Willie Blade. He is very quick with his first two steps. He is also hard to block. Blocking against both of them in practice has made me a better player."

Gene's Page Top Stories