[Premium site article] After practice Monday (October 1, 2001), I talked with MSU offensive center Tommy Watson and free safety Josh Morgan about the Florida loss and the attitude of the Mississippi State football team.


Talk about their offense. Was it better than you expected and were the players better than you expected?
Josh Morgan: "We knew what they were going to do. We watched a lot of last year's film and we knew how they were going to block us and how they were going to try to attack us. We just got down quick and missed a lot of assignments."

I asked Tommy this and I will ask you the same question. Was it a case where Florida was so good that if you made one mistake they took complete advantage of that mistake?
Josh Morgan: "They are very good. You have to give a lot of credit to Florida. Every little mistake we made they took advantage of it. Sometimes you leave a man open and the quarterback doesn't see it. It seemed like (Grossman) found everyone of them. I think later in the game some of our guys got their heads down and then they just started to beat us."

Do you think having so many inexperience players started on defense was also a factor in the number of mistakes MSU made?
Josh Morgan: "It was a huge factor. And you add in the fact that it was our first road trip and it was the Swamp.

"I really think we are a much better team now because you can't buy the experience of a butt-whipping. I really think that is the best way to learn, to get out there and see it happen. You learn that you really have to prepare for this league."

Do you think the character of this team will show this Saturday against Auburn?
Josh Morgan: "I think that everybody has a positive attitude and we know that we can still realize the goals that we had coming into the season. Nobody has gotten down. We still have the same guys that played in a lot of games last year. The newcomers are just now figuring out what they are up against. They have to follow in line behind the leaders on this team."

You, Dorsett and Mario are the leaders on the defense. What will you do to make sure the new guys follow your lead?
Josh Morgan: "The best way that I know how is the way you act. I have been told my entire life it is better to follow a leader who shows you how to act than to follow one who tells you have to act. I am going to show the guys what to do instead of telling them what to do."


Did Florida do some things that you guys didn't expect?
Tommy Watson Tommy Watson: "They didn't do anything that we didn't prepare for. Florida is a great team and we were playing at their place and there were about 90,000 people there. It was difficult to hear Wayne's checks. I really don't think there were any excuses. We just went down there and got our tails whipped."

Because of the large loss margin, does it now make you wonder if the MSU football team is as talented as we believed it was prior to playing Florida?
Tommy Watson: "There is no way I doubt the talent of this team. Florida is a good team but Florida is not 52 points better than Mississippi State. Last year it took us three games to get started and I don't think we have gotten it started yet. I really don't think that we are that far away on offense.

"When you lead the SEC in rushing people aren't just going to let you run the ball. In order to run the ball we are going to have to throw the ball. We have to get our passing game going to allow our running game to get going."

Was Saturday an example of Florida taking advantage of every mistake Mississippi State made? Sort of like a good pitcher making mistakes to a great hitter. Every bad pitch the pitcher throws, the hitter hits a home run. Was it sort of like that Saturday?
Tommy Watson: "I really think that was the case, no kidding. Florida is a great team. There is a reason that Florida was number 2 in the country. Plus, I really think Florida had that loss to us from last year in their minds since last year."

What does a team learn from a loss like this?
Tommy Watson: "I think the biggest thing we, the offense, learned is we aren't anywhere as good as we thought we were, by no means. When you play a great team like Florida everybody has to be on their A game. We all have to be executing correctly, which is something that we didn't do. It seemed like on every play Saturday at least one person messed up. On the offense we don't seem to be playing as a team yet. It's just going to take more practices and more games for us to get better."

Do you feel if you had played BYU, a passing team, that would have helped you prepare for Florida?
Tommy Watson: "BYU is a physical football team. They would have helped prepare us for Florida. We could have played them and learned from our mistakes and that would have helped us be more ready to play in the SEC. Playing one game, then having a seventeen day layoff before you play an SEC game was tough."

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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