Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

One-on-one with senior defensive lineman A.J. Jeffereson

Mississippi State senior defensive lineman A.J. Jefferson talks about his role as a leader on the team.

You are Nelson Adams are the two main leaders on the defensive line. What did you two do, as leaders, to help the team adjust so that a loss to South Alabama doesn't happen this coming Saturday?
"We are roommates. We went back to the house and talked about it, what was the problem, what could we have done better? That is all that we were looking for, answers, answers, answers. Ultimately, when it came down to it, all the answers was us, the players. The coaches make the calls but they are not on the field making the plays. While it is a team thing, we are the solution to the problem.

"Nelson and I and Torrey (Dale) and Nick (James) have all been doing a good job as seniors on the D-line to get everybody to focus on playing all four quarters. That is the main thing, going four quarters."

You mention that the players need to play all four quarters. Were there other small details that you noticed when watching the game film?
"We missed a bunch of tackles that we shouldn't have missed. We would have won the game if we hadn't missed those. A lot of it was due to mental stuff. We work drills every single day during practice with Coach (Brian) Baker."

What do you, as seniors, tell the young guys during practice? Do you push them a little harder in practice as a way to help them?
"Of course the coaches do that but we have to be enforcers as well. They say leadership comes from within, and that is a true statement. Nelson's little brother Fletcher comes in behind me during drills. And I will help him out during practice on technique and stuff like that."

I know you and Nelson Adams are not only roommates but good friends as well. What do you talk to each other about when you watch each other on film? Do you joke around some when watching each other?
"We do, but I was really impressed with the way Nelson played. A play that impressed me was when the quarterback jumped over Brandon Bryant and it could have been a touchdown but I looked up and Nelson was bringing him down. Coach Baker said it too, that Nelson played harder than he expected him too. To see a big guy like that, 305 pounds, run down the field, that was pretty impressive. I might joke about him a couple of times but for the most part we challenge each other."

I know football is a team game but despite the loss you had a good game. Are you able to be proud of your play during the game?
"You really can't because, at the end of the day, what shows up in the column is a win or a loss. Football is a team game. So, obviously, I feel like I didn't do enough to help my team win."

Do you hope you can continue playing that well the rest of the season?
"I want to play better than that. My ultimate goal is to continue improving each week."

What have you seen from the South Carolina offense that impresses you?
"Their running back has great vision. We were in the defensive meeting room and Coach (Peter) Sirmon was talking about him, he said he understands football. He understands when the offensive moves where he is going to take the ball. I think that (he) is going to be our biggest challenge, getting to him and getting him to the ground."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network.

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