Jackie Sherrill October 6th Teleconference

Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill, during his Monday teleconference, talked about his team's win over Vanderbilt, upcoming opponent Memphis, facing former MSU defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn (now DC at Memphis), his team's injury situation, penalties, Jerious Norwood, his offensive line recruiting the past few years and the play of Jason Clark.

Opening comments:

Vanderbilt win:
"There was no question that the players needed to win, needed to get back and feel what it is like to win a game. You were glad the players got some (positive) results out of going to practice everyday and working."

Q and A with Coach Sherrill:

Talk about Memphis.
"They are very sound in the kicking game. They have blocked some kicks. They have a good kicker.

"Offensively, they have been working on this offensive philosophy and schemes for three years. Their quarterback (Danny Wimprine) is an excellent football player. He is a very tough football player mentally and physically and he does a great job of running their offense. They also have an outstanding running back (DeAngelo Williams). Arkansas and other people thought he was the best running back in Arkansas (his senior year in high school). He is a really talented player. He is rushing for over a 100 yards a game (113.8 yards per game).

"Defensively, they run a three down linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs scheme. They move around every play. You really have a hard time putting your (blocks) on some of those kids. You are going to have to be very sound and (block them) and account for a lot of players."

How much do you feel it will help your team to understand Coach Dunn's defense since you worked with him the past few years?
"You know what you have to do against him to be successful, but there is no question that Joe Lee (Dunn) will change for this game and do some other things."

How has Coach Dunn changed since going to Memphis?
"He is running a three down linemen, three linebackers, and five defensive backs. He did the same thing here for four years."

I know you are now one man short on the offensive line with the injury to Otis Riddley. How is injuured offensive lineman Johnny Wadley coming along with his recovery?
"Wadley will, hopefully, be back on the practice field today (Monday). Hopefully, he will be able to get ready and get back in the mix (on the offensive line) and be ready to help us on Saturday."

Will Donovan Davis start in place of Otis Riddley?
"Yes, Donovan will start."

How about giving us an injury status on Ray Ray Bivines and Willie Evans.
"Ray Ray should be on the practice field (Monday). Willie will not and it is very doubtful that he will have an opportunity to play this weekend."

Will you stick Deljuan (Robinson) in Evans' starting spot?

How would you evaluate your offensive line recruiting over the past few years?
"(David Stewart) is an SEC player. Chris McNeil is an SEC player. Richard Burch is. Otis Riddley is a talented player. Brad (Weathers) is a very stable and consistent offensive lineman. Johnny Wadley is a really talented player. He has been hampered because of his knee - which he has overcome - and his ankle. (James) Redmond is a talented player. Donovan Davis is not an average football player. He is a very, very good player."

You played (true freshman OL) Brian Anderson at tight end. Is that going to be a permanent move?
"He will play offensive guard, tackle, center and tight end. We can put a stamp of utility player on him."

How do you think Jason Clark has played so far this season?
"He has played very well. The last two weeks, he has been responsible for taking certain plays away from our opponents. He is a very intelligent kid."

You had 11 penalties for 112 yards during the Vanderbilt game and 4 of those were for unnecessary roughness.
"The aggressiveness you don't want to take away. We can correct some of those. One of them was David Stewart latching onto a kid and blocking him all of the way from the hash mark to the sidelines. He kept on blocking him out of bounds. What he should have done was let go of him but when he got out of bounds, the kid tripped over some band members. But you don't want to take the aggressive play of David Stewart away. The other one was when (Tommy) Kelly and Jason (Clark) were chasing the football. (Vanderbilt) threw a swing pass out of the backfield and they were chasing it. It would have been very difficult for them to slow down. The thing you have to do when you hit someone on the line is make sure you hold them up but that didn't happen. But you can't take that aggressiveness away."

Of the 4 personal fouls, how many of them do you think were the players just making a mistake?
"The mistake was not taking away the aggressiveness but was David (not) letting the kid go once he got to the sideline. But you see that every day. You see guys knocked off the playing field and they still have contact with them but they let him go."

Do you feel the calls were just official judgements that didn't go the Bulldogs way?
"If I was on the other side, I would say call them. And that is what the official did. You want to play aggressive, but you also want to play smart. Were either one of those smart plays? No. You just have to pull off when you get to the sideline. There was another one on (Chris) Swain that shouldn't have been called because he was falling down as he made contact on the playing field. That one was hard to keep from doing because you can't stop your momentum."

State is the most penalized team in the SEC this year and that was also the case in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Why do you think that is the case?
"The aggressive plays you don't mind. If you take the top 10 defensive teams in the country or the top 5, they are going to have penalties. The silly penalties, those are inexcusable. We had two (silly) penalties Saturday. One was the receiver not being on the ball. Those are inexcusable."

Would you say most of your penalty yardage Saturday were more from aggressive than silly penalties?
"I would say that."

Talk about Jerious Norwood's game against Vanderbilt.
"Both of those kids (Norwood and Nick Turner) are very good and it doesn't make any difference which one starts to either one of them. They know they are going to share (playing time) and they know it helps each of them. You don't have to change your offense for any of the three running backs (Norwood, Turner and Fred Reid)."

Of the three, would you say Norwood has the best chance of filling out and being more of a power back?
"He is taller and bigger. Jerious is probably over 200 right now. Nick is 190+. Both of those guys are bigger than what they may seem."

Do you feel Jerious can play at 215 or even more and maintain his ability to move so well?
"During the next two years, he will be ever bit of 210+ and still have all of his moves."

When you recruited Jerious, what stuck out and has he blossomed in the way you anticipated?
"He has great field vision and he also has great hips. He had never run the hurdles before (in high school) and his first time to run them he won the State.

"The deference in Jerious and Nick is Jerious is a little longer strider and he also can move his hips. Nick's forte is he can stop and start on a dime."

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 swindoll@genespage.com.

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