"Overall, I am happy. Was it better than I expected? I don't think so because I have high expectations. We ask a lot of our players. We are going to get better and we are going to continue to improve."
Coach Watts said there were four drops during the Oregon game. How were the drops determined?
"When we look for drops, some people may think it is a tough catch, but I think in order to be a great player you have to make great plays. In my opinion, a drop is any ball that you can catch, no matter how great of a catch it would be. I don't care how great of a player you are, if you don't expect a player to make great plays, they don't make them. We expect it and our players understand that if you don't make the catch, you will be criticized for it."
Individually, McKinley Scott had a great touchdown catch in the corner of the endzone. Was his play what you expected it to be during the game? Also, talk about the play of the other receivers.
"It is getting there. There were a couple of things, route-wise, that McKinley did that wasn't to my satisfaction. He may have been off a yard or two, but we demand perfection. McKinley had a decent game catch-wise, but there's so much more that goes into it. But I think he is getting better every day.
"Justin (Jenkins) and Ray Ray (Bivines) played well. But I always tell my guys you are only as good as your last day. That game is gone and whatever they did is great, but you will be judged on what you do tomorrow. That's the way life is."
Antonio Hargro did really well during the pre-season scrimmages and has so much talent, but didn't do very well based on what I saw during the Oregon game. Are you disappointed in his play during the Oregon game?
"No, I'm not disappointed at all. When I look at Antonio, I see him as a work in progress. Although he is a junior, a veteran, he is a one-year player under me. Antonio is coming along. He's had a good week of practice. Prior to the game, he didn't have a great week of practice. I'm a person that believes you are going to play how you practice. I think he has learned that and is having a good week of practice. I'm looking forward to seeing him have a little bigger role in the Tulane game and the rest of the season."
Now that you have game film to look at and evaluate, was it easier to show them things they did well and things they still need to improve on?
"Yeah, I think they now get a feeling of my level of expectancy. I also think they learned about the trust level. We talked about that early in the year. If we asked them to do certain things, they would become a certain type player. I think they now see that. From what I have seen, they are willing to work a little harder to get what they want."
I didn't play football other than for one spring in high school, so I can't talk about this from a personal standpoint, but you and a few of the other coaches are really tough on your players in practice. How difficult is it for the players not to take it personally and understand that why you are so tough on them is because you want them to improve and help the team win?
"First of all, you coach the way your personality is. I don't ever make it personal with a player. I have never degraded a player personally. I'm not going to call them out by name. If you give me effort and you catch the football, I'm going to be happy. The other things I can fix. I also try to develop a good relationship with my players. They understand that there is a business side to this, but at the same time we can be standing there and share some things even on the field that other people don't see. They respect me enough and I respect them enough so that they can voice their opinions to me and I'm willing to listen and I can voice my opinions to them. However, in the end, the bottom line is we are here to accomplish something and I am going to push them. But with me pushing them it is important for us to be successful because if you push people and don't get results, then you have a credibility issue. But as long as players see results and you are honest - and I can't emphasis this enough - in letting people know where they stand, they will appreciate that. Having been a player, I never got into a coach's personality. The thing I wanted to know from my coach was where I stood and how could I get better."
Do you handle different kids different ways since some of them may not be as emotionally tough as others?
"Oh, without a doubt. You can't coach everybody the same. Some guys you have to drive and push all the time because they aren't as self-motivated. Other guys you don't have to push because they are self-motivated. Then there are the guys that are sensitive. You have to be careful and know how to push the buttons. That is a key."
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.