Talk a little about Oregon.
"I'm excited to play. That's the main thing I would like to say. I didn't get to play against them last year and can't wait to play this game.
"They are a good football team. Their strong point is the big guys up front. We have some young guys who are ready to step up. Everybody knows football is won on the offensive and defensive lines. So, the main concern is controlling the front."
Coach Sherrill talked about the importance of pass protection. While it's the offensive linemen that are supposed to protect you, a lot will also depend on you making the correct read and getting rid of the ball.
"People that know football know you have offensive line sacks, quarterback sacks and receiver sacks. If you don't know anything about the game, you don't know whose responsibility (a sack) is at certain times. I have a big responsibility to get rid of the ball and make my reads as quickly as possible. The times when they bring more than we can block, I have to do something with the football."
How tough of a challenge will it be for the young offensive line (1 senior, 1 junior, 2 sophomores, 1 redshirt freshman) to block the Oregon defensive line?
"It will be a tough challenge. Anytime you play guys that are really good football players, it's not only a challenge for the young guys but anybody that plays them. But I think the young guys we have are excited to play them and ready for the challenge. They have been going against (senior MSU defensive tackle) Tommy Kelly and the other big guys that we have all fall (camp), so I think they will be prepared."
Talk about all the young guys on this team?
"They bring a lot of excitement to the game and make me excited."
Do they ever call you the old man?
"I tell them when you get to be a fifth-year senior those bumps and bruises keep coming back more often. When I got here as a freshman, some of the older guys like Kendall Roberson said, 'man, I'm hurting'. I told them they aren't hurting. Now, I know how they feel."
You are healthy right now. How much better of a quarterback are you when you are not having to rub yourself down with ice?
"A lot better. But, that's football. You have to go through injuries. You see Brad Weathers injured. You saw Otis Riddley during the scrimmage the other day. He had a cast on his hand. There are certain things that you have to overcome. When you have injuries up front, that's when you have to suck it up and get mean and nasty."
Now that you are a fifth-year senior, do you reflect on your career and think about things you wish you could change?
"Yeah, there are some things I did I could have changed; the tire incident for one. But everybody makes mistakes in life. You learn from them."
You have never been a controversial person, but last year was a pretty controversial year for you.
"I had that time in the spring where I had to be to myself. I think I told Todd Kelly before, as the media, that's your job (to report the news). You (guys in the media) have helped me out in tons of ways and something like the tire incident is something you have to write about."
It almost seemed like you regained your love for the game while you were out.
"I think I did. I'm enjoying myself to the fullest. The game can't get here soon enough."
In a way, the two weeks that you missed in the spring not only turned out good for you but also for the team.
"Kyle York got a lot of experience, which helped him push me this fall. When I came in, he was ahead of me and I had to work so much harder just to try and catch him."
I remember something you said back when you played in your first game at State. You said when you first got in the huddle you were so excited that you were talking really loud and the guys had to tell you not to yell. Do you think you might be like that again during this game because of how excited you feel about playing?
"I hope so (laugh). You made me laugh when you said that because playing with these guys brings back so many memories. I can't wait to get out there and make some more memories with these guys; things like getting in the huddle, laughing and enjoying yourself."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org