You are the starting tailback this weekend. Is that correct?
Does that excite you to know you will be starting, especially considering your competition, Jerious Norwood, is also a great back?
"Yes, it excites me a lot. I have worked hard for it as far as practice and off the field. I feel like I deserved it. Now, I'm ready to play."
Talk about the relationship you and Jerious have on and off the field.
"Jerious is like my best friend on the team. As far as on the field, we talk to each other a lot. If he needs help on the play, he knows he can come to me. If I don't know something, I go to him and ask him. At practice, we know we are competing against each other, but, at the same time, we know we need each other. It is a bond that we have. There is no animosity. I don't think there will ever be anything like that."
When you were in high school, you were the guy. Your team depended on you to be the guy. If you were injured, as you were your senior year, there was a huge drop off in talent at your position. At Mississippi State, you are just one of two Parade All-American running backs on the team, the other one being Jerious Norwood. Does that help make it easier to go all out at all times and not worry about being injured?
"Being injured, especially like I was my senior year in high school and like I was against LSU, it is a scar on your mind that plays on your mind. I always go all out on all the plays. But I know, if I go down, I have them (Norwood and Fred Reid) behind me and they can pick up where I left off."
Both you and Jerious are really quick, but neither of you is a big guy. What is different about you guys?
"Our styles. I feel like my style of running is different than Jerious'. That's about the only difference we have."
What do you mean by different styles?
"You have to see it. I really can't explain how I run. Neither of our styles are a weakness because we both have very good styles of running. We both get the same results."
Do you ever go back and watch yourself on film running during a game and say to yourself, 'I didn't know I could do that?'
"Yeah, I do that all the time when I do something big. But, to me, it doesn't seem to be big at the time but it looks that way on film."
Doing the things you do on the football field, does that just come natural to you?.
"Yeah, it seems like there is something behind me telling me to cut this way or cut that way. It's like I can see a play before it even happens."
When you first get the ball on the handoff and start toward the designed hole and it's not there, what do you do next?
"I read the linebackers and I try to find the nearest hole. If the hole I was supposed to hit is not open and I see a crease and know that I can get through it, I try to get through it. It might not be open but it's worth trying."
Once you get through that hole and it's just you and the linebacker or you and the defensive back, do you think there's anybody that can out quick you?
"Not in the open field. I really feel like if you can hit me, it's going to have to be between the tackles. In the open field, one on one, I really believe I can get past anybody with the moves I try to do."
You can do a lot of things really well. What things do you still feel you need to improve on?
"I really try to improve on everything, including holding the ball, my steps, my footwork, my technique."
What would you say is your weakest area, your blocking?
"Last year, my weaknesses were my weight and blocking, but now I feel like I can hold up against a block. Right now, I don't really feel I have any weakness."
Oregon has some pretty big and physical defensive linemen. Do you feel you can block those guys?
"Being a back like me, you know you can chop block. They can be 6-9, 350, but if you can take those legs out from under them, they can't go anywhere."
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 email@example.com