A Q&A With DE A.J. Jefferson

Mississippi State junior defensive end A.J. Jefferson talks with the media after the spring game.

How do you think you did during the spring game?
"I thought I did pretty good. The biggest thing was getting out there and having fun. That is what I did today, have fun and showcase what you can do."

(Coach Dan Mullen) said it's not a case of you and Chris (Jones) coming in and making that play but you have to have that consistency. Have you found that consistency?
"Yeah, I think so because (Mississippi State defensive line) Coach (David) Turner preached to me all spring that I have to show that I can be more consistent. And I kind of have to carry it over to the season."

You have never been shy about hitting the quarterbacks (in the spring practices and scrimmages). Why is that?
"We touch Dak (Prescott) and Coach Mullen kind of (looks at us funny) but we have to show him that he is still on the football team. We have to let them know that they are still playing football ever now and then."

Is it just a hit or is there some talking afterwards?
"Oh, there is some talking afterwards. Dak, he talks noise, (saying) you can't touch this. He might say he didn't touch me, he didn't touch me, I would have scored. But you have to tell them they are still on the football team."

You knew going into this spring that Preston Smith was gone and this was your opportunity. Do you feel like you used that opportunity?
"I have."

Do you see the opportunity that Preston had?
"Yeah, it is there. Somebody just has to take it."

What have you seen from Ryan Brown as far as his leadership ability?
"Ryan is the same as he always has been since he got here. He has always been a leader in my eyes. He shows up and he is consistent. He is not different. He really leads me by showing that he is consistent. And I try to watch him. He has really stepped up as a vocal leader. Kaleb Eulls is gone. He's doing a good job."

You seem to have good depth with Will Coleman and Johnathan Calvin and seem to have a good rotation going at defensive end.
"Yeah, they are coming along good. Calvin is a good lineman. Will Coleman has put some weight on and he is coming along. Grant Harris, Torrey Dale. That is going to help us out and let us do what we did last year."

How much pride is there on the defensive line to keep the same level as last year's team?
"Our whole mentality is to be better than we were last year. Yeah, we lost a lot of guys but we have a lot of good guys coming back and guys coming in."

Everybody knows your reputation for rushing the passer. Do you feel like you have stepped up your game against the ground game?
"Yeah, we do the same stuff every day with Coach Turner, hand placement. We do the same thing every day. I play on the D-line, I don't run routes. We do the same thing. We are going to get better at it."

Have you seen any difference in the Manny Diaz defensive scheme?
"It is pretty much the same. He wants guys in the backfield. He wants us to move around upfront. He wants the guys upfront to make a lot of plays."

What are some individual things you guys can do in the summer to improve yourselves?
"Every day that we get the chance to we are outside hitting sleds, doing hand placement, and in the meeting room too. That is what is going to be the biggest thing, learning the plays. There is a bunch of times when we go in practice and guys have to think about what they have to do. The biggest thing will be getting in the film room and learning the play."

It is your turn now. Are you going to do anything different?
"Just preparation. And studying offenses more. I'm not going to be the sideline watching Chris (Jones) and asking him why he did this and you did that. "

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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