MSU-Tulane post-game Press Conference

Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill and several MSU players talked about their devastating 31-28 loss to Tulane.

Coach Jackie Sherrill:

"We went up 28-14, then we had to make plays to keep the clock moving. We didn't do that. We didn't take time off the clock. We still had a chance to win but didn't. They made the plays and did (win.). We certainly have to congratulate them."

Was this an example of a team not playing the entire 60 minutes of a game?
"We got tired. We had some players out of the secondary and ended up playing a lot of freshmen. Dockery didn't play. We didn't cover the tight end with the linebackers at times."

During one of the last two possessions you went deep twice. Was that a tough decision to make?
"We could have gotten the ball out in the flat but we could have made the play but didn't and they did."

Do you think Jenkins ever had his foot down on the ball the refs ruled a fumble?
"That was a questionable call as far as him having possession of the ball."

Justin Jenkins had a big game.
"I thought that Justin made some big plays."

You rotated a lot of guys during the game. Were you trying to keep them fresh?
"Yeah, but they still got tired. When you play this kind of tempo, you have to sit people down."

Was the youth in the secondary part of the reason they passed so well against you?
"A lot of it was due to them not having faced those things before."

Are you pleased with the running game?
"Yeah, I think we have some things moving in there. We have some guys that will get better and better.

"I also thought Kevin (Fant) played well. We controlled the tempo of the game for a while but we didn't make the plays when we needed to at the end."

Justin Jenkins:

You had a lot of catches but it was the catch you didn't make that hurt at the end.
"I was supposed to make plays for our team, but unfortunately I didn't come up with it at the end. I feel real bad about that. We will be better next week."

Talk about the passing game overall.
"We made some big plays. We could pass or run tonight. But we couldn't do it in the fourth quarter. You have to do it then to win games."

Do you feel snake bit at times because you guys played so hard but still lost?
"Yeah, it feels real bad right now but everybody is looking forward to the next game because we need a win so bad."

Was there improvement from week 1 to week 2?
"Yeah, I thought there was improvement but, at the same time, we didn't put more points on the scoreboard than the other team."

What happened on that fourth quarter catch that was ruled a fumble?
"I don't think I ever had possession of the ball. I didn't take a step with it, but things happen. You have to move on."

You are a senior. What is your responsibility to keep the guys up after this loss?
"Just to be a positive leader. Just say positive things. You are going to have people with their heads down because we are 0-2. I am going to encourage everybody to practice hard during the week and get better and get ready for Houston."

The Tulane head coach said he felt like Mississippi State was pressing at the end of the game. Did you feel that also?
"Yeah, a little bit because everybody was wanting to make plays. When you are trying so hard to do something, sometimes things go bad. Unfortunately, things did go bad for us, but I think we will rebound against Houston next week. We aren't going to look at this loss as a heartbreaker. We are going to go out, continue to get better, do the little things and win next week."

Kevin Fant:
What happened at the end?
"We just couldn't finish it out."

The offense made a lot of big plays tonight.
"We made some big plays but we want to play all of the game."

How much does this loss affect the team emotionally after being ahead late in the game?
"The way we have been playing ball and to get a 14 point lead in the fourth quarter....I just have to play better. I played terribly. I have to play better and help this young team learn how to finish a game."

Did the offensive line improve from last week?
"We had a little trouble at first with their speed rush, but after the first quarter we picked up on things."

Is it getting tougher and tougher on this team? It's gone through two losing seasons in a row and now has lost its first two games of this season. It almost seems like the team is finding ways to lose. Is it starting to get to you guys mentally?
"I wish we could have pulled this game out so that we could have gotten a win under the belt of these young guys. They been in college and haven't felt a win. We won my first two years here and I know what it feels like to win."

What has been the difference in your first two years and the last two-plus years?
"A lot of things you can't control. Things like injuries, lack of depth. Those are things you can't control. Everybody goes through that. The one thing you can control is playing through four quarters."

Darren Williams:
This had to be a devastating loss.
"It was. We got up by two touchdowns and gave up two big passes."

Was their quarterback crossing you guys up in the secondary because you are so young back there?
"No, we didn't get crossed up. We just made a couple of mistakes."

Having played at Clarksdale High School you were used to winning almost all the time. What is the difference in this State team compared to the teams you played on at Clarksdale?
"Basically, we didn't play four quarters (tonight). I think we got too relaxed when we got up two touchdowns."

On their last two touchdown drives what were you trying to do defensively?
"The last two we were in zone most of the time, but we had too many mistakes. We have to get those corrected because we can't play like this the whole year."

Coach Cooper simplified the defense after the Oregon game. Did you feel that cause the defense to improve its play?
"Yeah, there was a great improvement. We had a lot of young guys step up and play. We just have to get better and our team will get better."

Nick Turner:

Were you surprised that you didn't stick with the running game near the end?
"(MSU offensive coordinator Morris) Watts is a smart coach. He knows what he is doing. We just made a mistake and they made a big play on the mistake."

Tommy Kelly:

Talk about the loss.
"Man, this hurts. This hurts bad. I don't know, man. This is a very tough pill to swallow."

You have run almost exclusively a four-man rush during the first two games. Do you think you need to blitz more?
"That's up to the coaches. They call the shots, but we just have to execute. Whatever Coach Coop calls, we have to execute it to a t. If he calls a four-man rush, then we have to get there. It's as simple as that."

It seemed like you were getting pressure on Losman most of the night. Were you happy with the pressure you put on him?
"You aren't happy if you don't get the job done. If you don't complete your assignment, you are still going to be frustrated.

"It is hard to swallow losing this game. Up 14 (points) with 8 minutes to go...."

What were they doing those last two touchdown drives. It almost looked like they were moving at will.
"I don't know. They were dinking and dunking. They would get five here and five there. You just can't give folks those kind of yards."

Is it (the losing) starting to get mental with you guys now?
"I don't know. I don't even have any hair on my head and I want to pull it out. We try to come back against Oregon and come up short that game. Then we come out this game winning, got the game under control and it all falls apart."

How hard will it be to come back from this game?
"It is hard. I don't even want to go home. I know my mama will call me and want to know what happened. I don't even want to tell her."

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 You can contact him by emailing

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