How was getting back on the field Sunday? “It was good. Obviously it was great going out there with the win under our belt. Just the young guys coming out, they do well in Sunday football. And just cleaning some things up, cleaning up our mistakes.”
Does Saturday being your last time here go through your head? “Yeah, it does. It’s exciting, it’s humbling. It’s something I’m looking forward to, a big-time game for the Egg Bowl. Everyone knows that. And for my last one it will be exciting.”
What do you feel is the legacy of this senior class? “A bunch of guys that do the right thing. I think my whole class, the guys that are still here that are graduating will come out on Senior Night are guys that will do things right off the field. Calhoun, Ryan Brown, Malone, Joe Morrow, those are guys that have set the bar all around football and off the field.”
Morrow said there are few of you left, you must have a good bond? “Yeah, definitely. I came in early (spring 2011) and I guess I got a little heads-up, I was kind of with the class above me as well. But I was real, real tight with those guys. Some have gone, some have gone in the NFL, some of them didn’t redshirt vs. guys who have redshirted and stayed. Yeah, we’ll be tight, we’ll be friends for a long time.”
You’ve said one reason for coming back was for the Egg Bowl. Now that it is here what are your emotions? “Excitement, just pure excitement of knowing I came back for this reason. From the time I got here everything goes into this week. Last year, this year, everything boils down to this.”
Does that put a lot of pressure on? “No. I mean, I don’t really feel the pressure. Like I said it’s excitement, it’s another game. It’s just a big-time game, something I love to do, something I love to play. So I’m excited for me and my teammates to go out here in Davis Wade.”
What have you seen from them on film? “They’re a good team. They’re a good defense, they play hard, they’ve got some big guys. They’ve got some NFL prospects on that defense and we know they’re tough. But we’ve got a pretty solid offense as well.”
Up to now what game do you think about most of your career? “One game in my whole career… I don’t know, it’s been a bunch of moments. Obviously the LSU game, winning there, starting and winning in Death Valley. The Egg Bowl a couple of years ago, coming in late and getting that win. So I’d probably say those two. And then again the (2014) Auburn game, when we got the win to be banked #1. So those three big games.”
You just had a shootout with Brandon Allen, two of the better quarterbacks in the SEC. Chad Kelly is up there with you in numbers, is there anything to going shot for shot with those guys? “I mean, you never want to let another quarterback out-do you. I mean there’s no worse feeling than you not playing too hot and the other guy across the field just being on fire. This weekend was an example of both of us being on fire, being in the groove with our offense and just letting things come to us.”
The last two Egg Bowls you were not healthy, how are you now? “I’m 100% healthy right now. I mean, I’m probably as healthy as I’ve ever been in any season in my life this late into a season. So I feel good.”
How would you characterize this season? “This season’s been special. There’s been some ups, there’s been some downs. Losing early, that close one to LSU; then going on the road and just things really not going our way losing to A&M, Then going into a game we figured we could win, it didn’t turn out that way against Alabama.”
“Just the way we went on the road to Fayetteville last week and got that win, it’s been a special year. A team overcoming things and continuing to move forward just shows the toughness of this team.”
Have you said anything to younger guys about their first Egg Bowl and how it’s different? “I think they know it’s different. Coach has touched on it, we’ve had people come and talk. We know this game is different. I think everybody around here knows that.”
Being a Louisiana guy, when did the Egg Bowl become personal for you and something you’d come back for? “My second year here, my redshirt freshman year. Losing to them at their place, just watching them celebrate, their whole deal with Coach Mullen on the jumbotron and all that really just sank in. That’s when I got the taste of the rivalry."
You bounced back from a letdown with Alabama, talk about bouncing back from a high at Arkansas? “Just that’s the past. Just let it happen, it’s already been done. I think that’s what we, a good job of putting the Alabama game behind us and moving forward for the Arkansas game. Now we’ve got to do the same thing, put this Arkansas game behind us and move into the most important game of the season.”
“I think this is a team we’ve gotten better week-in and week-out. And I know the offense, we’re really just connecting, feeling ourselves right now. The offensive line is doing a good job protecting, the play-makers are making plays. So we’ve just got to continue to get better.”
Two years ago you come in in relief, what was that like for you? “That was special. Going into the game I knew I could play. Damian Williams had taken reps all week long. I felt he had every right and earned every right to play in that game and start in that game. He did a good job right up there to the end.”
“I wanted to play the whole game. Finally I couldn’t take it and I just told Coach Mullen I wanted to play. He went with it and the offense and the fans, everybody just surrounded around us and they made a special night after the win.”
Both quarterbacks are playing at a real high level now, what does that add to Saturday? “It just makes it that much better of a game. It’s already special, it’s going to be a special game because of the rivalry. But two teams playing hot right now makes it that much better.”
What do you take from MSU when you leave? “Just the family. Just the family environment. Everything Starkville, Mississippi State has done for me. They’ve made me feel so comfortable, made me feel at home, and just welcomed and loved.
What stands out from last year’s game? “The whole game really. I don’t know if there’s just one or two particular moments that stand out. But just the whole game. I think it was tied at halftime or something like that, knowing we could win that game and just letting it get away from us. Yeah, it really hurts.”
How long does a loss like that linger? “It lingers for a long time, regardless if you played a game right after. That’s a game that’s special in this state, special to both teams. When you lose it the other team has got bragging rights for a whole year. That sinks in and that’s how we felt last year.”
Coach Mullen said you get your masters in three weeks, what is it in? “Workforce leadership.”
What is A.J. Jefferson doing differently, how have you seen him improve? “It’s just motor. He’s always been a guy that had a good motor. I think what made the difference between last year and this year is he doesn’t take a play off. Regardless of the down, regardless of the situation, regardless of the reps at practice, he’s going to go hard and give his all on every rep. And it’s really paying off."
Has something clicked in the last five games with Brandon Holloway? “He’s just a guy that takes what the defense gives him. He’s fast, he’s quick, so he’s going to take those holes. He gets down and doesn’t really ever take big hits because of his size. But he’s doing well for this offense right now.”
You said at Arkansas had they made that field you, you would have gone and scored again. Is that how seriously this offense believes in itself? “Oh, yeah, definitely. I mean you give us any amount of time, we know we can score in whatever time is given. And that’s how we felt. I wanted them to hurry up and if they made it they made it, it was what 45 seconds left? That’s plenty enough time for us to get in field goal range or score a touchdown."