"The open week gave us a chance to get some players back. It also gave us a chance to work with the young kids. We worked our regular players through practice, then we kept the younger guys out for 35 to 45 minutes, working on a lot of one on one.
"We are getting (starting offensive guard) Johnny Wadley back. I don't know how much he will be able to play, but at least we have gotten him back on the practice field. We lost (freshmen defensive tackle) Corey Clark (to an injury during practice) and I don't know if he will be able to play this week. (Starting offensive guard) Brad Weathers is still out. (Starting strong safety) Kevin Dockery got hurt during (the Oregon) game. He got hurt again (in practice). If he's not ready to go full speed by Wednesday, then we will have to keep him here."
Q and A with Coach Sherrill:
How about talking about the Tulane offense and things that concern you about them.
"The first thing you look at is their quarterback. He is tremendously talented. They are saying that he is rated higher than Eli (Manning) and you know what kind of player Eli is. That gets your attention. The second thing is their running back is very talented.
"Their tempo is a no-huddle tempo. Everything they do is very quick and very fast. You have to try to practice against that and it is very difficult to do."
What was your initial reaction to knowing that you would be playing in the Super Dome on Astro Turf?
"That is one thing you have to block out of your mind. We only play one game on Astro Turf. Our practice turf is different than Astro Turf. It is more of the plastic grass, so the footing is completely different. It is a lot harder to go from grass to Astro Turf than it is from grass to Astro Turf. On Astro Turf you have to pick up your feet. It is very difficult to make the adjustment. What we do is give them their game shoes and let them wear the shoes around on Wednesday and Thursday to kind of break them in and get accustomed to them."
Are you more cautious about playing guys with sore knees or ankles when playing on artificial surface as compared to playing on grass?
"No, if they are well we will play them. We have a rule that if you are a starter and you are not on the practice field on Monday, then you don't start and if you are not on the practice field by Wednesday, then you don't play in the game.
"The only injury that you are really concerned about is turf toe. Basically, that is the spraining of the joint of your big toe. You have to make sure they wear a metal plate in their shoe so that they don't get turf toe."
What are you going to do to avoid getting down early against Tulane like you did against Oregon?
"I don't think you can go into the game saying you are going to avoid that. Those things happen even though you try to avoid it happening. If we win the coin toss we certainly aren't going to give the ball to Tulane. We want to keep the ball out of (their quarterback's) hands as much as possible. That means you have to control the line of scrimmage and control the game. You don't want to turn it into a shootout, because that is their offense."
Is there a reason why some teams start out quickly and some start out slowly?
"Sometimes you can be over-excited defensively and be out of position in the secondary and get hurt (by big plays). Even though you are going to be aggressive and quick, you can't be out of control. You have to be very much in control in the secondary. The linebackers and defensive line can be out of control, meaning they can play fast."
Is Tulane's offense similar to the type offense Oregon played?
"No, they are a much quicker team than Oregon. Oregon tries to run the ball and be balanced, whereas Tulane throwing a ball out in the flat is a running play to them. Their quicks and screens are almost like a running play to them."
What do they do defensively?
"Defensively, they lost some players (from last season), but their schemes are four linemen. They will play man, man-free. They'll play cover-three and also cover-two."
Talk a little more about Tulane's quarterback, J. P. Losman.
"He is an oustanding football player. He is a very tough kid. Like everybody in the next league are saying, he may be the first quarterback taken (in the NFL Draft)."
Talk about the development of your tight ends during the open week.
"We spent a lot of time doing one-on-one work. Hopefully, we improved their play. That is one position where we don't have a great player. I think that Aaron Lumpkin is getting better every week. We are trying to get the freshman ready to play, but he has missed some practice due to an injury. We need to catch him up pretty quick." (I think the freshman he is referring to is redshirt freshman Blake Pettit.-Gene)
How much do you emphasis picking up early non-conference victories?
"I don't think anybody can say this is a W or this is an L. There are a lot of people who buy an opponent, which means that they come to their place all the time. They could play their third-team and still win because they have better athletes. We haven't done that. Our out-of-conference games are BYU, Oregon, Tulane, Houston and Memphis. So, we are playing teams that are home and home and not bought."
If Dockery can't go, who would move into that role?
"Demetric Wright and Eric Fuller have practiced well."
Do you expect to play multiple running backs?
"Yes, but if we have one with a hot hand we will continue calling his number."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.