Talk about the game and LSU in general.
"They are a good team. They came in and played a good game, but the thing that sticks out the most in my mind are all the mistakes that we made. I've said it before and I really believe it: What is hurting us is the way we play and our defense. It wasn't what the defense gives us because we have practiced against it all week. If we cut down on the mistakes, all across the line on the entire team, I don't think it will be who is in front of us, but what we do on our side."
It's the fourth game of the season and you are still making the same mistakes. What can you do to correct that?
"Go to work everyday, the same thing you do everyday. You can quit or you can go to work. I know everybody on this team pretty well and everyday we are going to go to work."
You had something going on the first offensive series and you have a fumble. Then, you get an interception. You were playing them well, but once you had to go nothing but passing, there was no way to protect full time.
"You want to be able to balance it out; run, pass, play option. But you have to do whatever they give you. If we do have to just pass, then we have to go out and protect and complete the passes. You don't want to get in a situation where you have to do one thing, but to win, if you have to do one thing, you have to do it."
What about LSU's defense?
"They blitz a lot and give you a lot of difference looks and we knew that. We practiced against about any blitz you can think of. We knew they were going to give you a lot of looks and bring a lot of people from every different directions. They were going to twist their D-line. A lot of times we picked it up and sometimes we didn't . When we didn't, we made mistakes that hurt us real bad."
Were they the fastest defense that you have gone against this year?
"In some positions they are fast. Every team has speed at some positions or other. They are a good defense. They have played good, week in and week out. But, again, I don't think the problem is the other team. I think the problem is our team and the mistakes we make."
How big was the first fumble? How much did that take out of the team?
"Of course you don't want to fumble but it was still zero to zero at that point. Even if they do get some points off it, it is still a close game. You never want to (fumble), but if you have good character in your players, that is not an issue."
Linebacker T. J. Mawhinney
How do you think the defense played?
"I thought that we were ready and played good, but we had a couple of bad breaks early. But you are probably going to have something go wrong every game. We just have to learn how to fight through it."
You are 0-4. How do you keep from getting frustrated and just go out there and work hard everyday?
"Everybody is frustrated because we play so good at times, then we have those one or two bad plays that lead to big things that kill the momentum with the entire team. We just can't keep doing that against good ball teams. We are just starting to hit the meat of our SEC schedule. We have 8 games left and we have to keep fighting. Nobody is quitting. We just have to keep going on."
LSU was more balanced than the other teams that you have played.
"They weren't doing anything that we didn't expect. It just seemed like we would play hard two or three plays, then that one mental bust would lead to big things. They were killing us on that zone-comeback where they would line up double tights (ends) and we would spread our line and linebackers out and then they would run it to one side and cut it back two or three gaps. That killed us the whole first half and gave us problems in the second half, too. We just have to learn how to adjust with it. We will see that the rest of the year. When we play Auburn and Alabama, they are going to run things like that. And Vandy will run things like that with the option. We have to be prepared for it."
You knew the zone cutback were there. How come you weren't able to adjust to it?
"It wasn't that. It was just that when they lined up the double tights they spread out two receivers and you have to play in your corners to cover the wide receivers, you have to play the safeties over the tight ends. So you are putting a bond with the one linebacker set. When they run that zone, you have to honor that. And when they cut it back hard, it is a difficult play to stop. If we had 11 people doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing everything , we could have stopped it. But sometimes we didn't have that. It probably happened 10 times where someone didn't and they were picking up 6 yards, 10 yards."
Teams say this (MS) team has a lot of athletic, talented players but it hasn't shown in in wins. Is there something else that is missing?
"The only thing I can think of is a lack of focus. Like I said, we came out strong on both sides of the ball, then bam, there was that fumble. That deflated us a little bit, but we went out there and played another good series of defense."
How much different was it with (defensive coordinator) Ron Cooper up stairs?
"Not much really, but we liked it better because our position coaches were there critiquing what we were doing while he was overseeing what was going on. He made good adjustments. It just seemed like there would be times where we had that mental breakdown."
What would getting one win mean to the whole attitude and outlook of this team?
"I'll be honest with you: I don't think it will change the confidence of our team. We have a lot of confidence. But it is almost sickening to watch film and see how much the little mental mistakes kill you. I know that (Sunday) it will be the same thing. We will go in there and see that if that person had done that or if I had done that, it would have been a whole lot different. Like Coach Sherrill always says, 5 to 7 plays a game makes or breaks you."
Wide receiver Justin Jenkins
Talk about their defense.
"They have a great defense. They aren't 7th in the country for nothing. They came out with some blitzes that we were prepared for but they just got there a little quicker than we thought they would. Kevin had a good night but had a lot of pressure on him at all times."
What do you think about Coach Sherrill?
"Coach Sherrill is doing a good job right now. He even has a position where he coaches the drop linebackers now. He cares just that much where he wants this team to win. People can say what they want to say, but we are out there with him everyday and he still has that winning attitude."
Two losing seasons in a row, four straight losses this season; are the players worried knowing that what happens on the field will determine whether your coaches have their jobs next year?
"The coaches are doing a good job. It is up to us players because the coaches can only do so much. They can coach us throughout the week and throughout the ball game, but it is up to us to execute. I think they have the right guys on the field, but we have to put it together ourselves."
Are you at the point now when there is a turnover, you start thinking not again?
"Yeah, it is like that right now, but we are going to work hard. Turnovers are part of the game, but you don't want that turnover margin to be negative your way because you will lose. We had 4 or 5 turnovers tonight. When you have that many turnovers against a team like LSU, you are going to lose a ballgame."
Is the difference between MSU and LSU talent or execution?
"It is execution. Everybody knows that MSU has top recruiting classes year after year. But when you don't execute, it takes away from you. You can run a 4.1 or 4.2 (forty yard dash), but if you are not executing and doing things to win ballgames, you are going to lose. Right now, (LSU) is a veteran ballclub that execute. They have experience right now. That is something that we lack."
Do you think the offense progressed or regressed tonight?
" I would say we didn't make any improvement tonight. The offense did some good things tonight, but we didn't get in into the endzone. We had poor field position tonight and we turned the ball over a lot."
What do you think about Vanderbilt coming in next weekend?
"Vanderbilt is not LSU, but we are not doing so great right now, either. It will be two teams scrapping for a win. I think that will motivate us to come out and practice hard everyday. For us to get that first win will mean a lot because you never know what it will do to your season."
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 email@example.com.