Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill, during his Tuesday afternoon press conference, talked about Arkansas, his injured players, Arkansas OT Shawn Andrews, FS Tony Bua and QB Matt Jones, Arkansas' running game, playing in the state of Arkansas, senior leadership, not practicing Monday, young players on his team and preparing for next week's game against Ole Miss."> Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill, during his Tuesday afternoon press conference, talked about Arkansas, his injured players, Arkansas OT Shawn Andrews, FS Tony Bua and QB Matt Jones, Arkansas' running game, playing in the state of Arkansas, senior leadership, not practicing Monday, young players on his team and preparing for next week's game against Ole Miss.">

Jackie Sherrill Press Conference

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/coaches/football/sherrillpressconf.jpg" align="left" width="127" height="160"> Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill, during his Tuesday afternoon press conference, talked about Arkansas, his injured players, Arkansas OT Shawn Andrews, FS Tony Bua and QB Matt Jones, Arkansas' running game, playing in the state of Arkansas, senior leadership, not practicing Monday, young players on his team and preparing for next week's game against Ole Miss.

Opening comments by Coach Sherrill:

Playing Arkansas.
"It seems like everytime we go to Arkansas we speculate on whether the weather will be good, bad or whatever. I have been there and seen both. Hopefully, the extended weather reports are good.

"Two years ago, they thought they had the best (offensive) lineman in the conference in Shawn Andrews (6-5, 353). Watching the game tapes this year, he is a really outstanding football player. He is probably the quickest footed guy that I have had an opportunity to see on film. He and the tight end (Jason Peters, 6-5, 320) are probably 700+ pounds and do a good job of controlling that side of the line. I don't know if they will be able to keep Shawn there (after) this year. I would say that he would be the first lineman taken (in the NFL Draft).

"When you go back and watch the Texas game - and you know what kind of team Texas has - they really dominated the line of scrimmage.

"They lost their running back for two or three games, but it is very evident when he is in the game how good they really can be. He looks like he is well and will be back.

"They have 27 seniors. Like (Arkansas coach) Houston (Nutt) said, this is his most experienced team and probably the most talented team he has had.

"Defensively, they are going to be in different places. They are going to slant and move a lot. They will be a three-man front, a four-man, a five-man front. It will depend on what they are trying to do.

"Defensively, against Arkansas, people have tried a lot of different things. Arkansas always seems to break one, two and three plays against them.

"When they want to win, they always go back to (Arkansas quarterback) Matt Jones. In their overtime games they have always had him at quarterback to make the plays. He doesn't look very fast, but he really covers ground and is hard to tackle. I don't know if anybody has brought him down by themselves.

"I think the one area we have been able to execute is the kicking game. Hopefully, it is one area we can execute against them. On their punt coverage team, the kid they call Batman and their other gunner are probably the best two I have seen at covering punts. We will have to do some things to make sure we block them."

Injured players.
"The players that won't play are Ray Ray Bivines and Tommy Ferrell. Ray Ray is probably out for the season. He is doing an MRI (Tuesday) afternoon. We'll then know the exact details. Ferrell will, hopefully, be back for the (Ole Miss) game."

Q and A:

Will safety Kevin Dockery play in this game?
"Yes, he is full speed. Last week he wasn't, that is why we didn't play him (in the Tennessee game)."

Is OT Richard Burch ok?
"Burch will be ok.

"Everybody should play except for the two I mentioned."

Do you think they will use Shawn Andrews in the backfield like they did earlier?
"Probably for a lot of fun. I think that Cobb is just as good or better. Now, putting him back there to block, that is something else, especially when he gets on the small cornerbacks. He has great balance. People who have tried to muscle him, there is not anybody that has come close. I don't know what he weighs, but he has got to be close to 400 pounds, but he has excellent feet."

What makes Matt Jones so good?
"He is 6-6 and is very, very strong. He has big, big hands. The way he carries the ball, he wraps his hands around the ball very easily. He just has the knack to make you miss him. He is really an athlete. He was an outstanding basketball player. Also, a good baseball player coming out of high school."

How do you defense him?
"The worst thing is to flush him out. You may be better off to keep him in the pocket and let him try to throw. He has a strong arm. But when you flush him, he probably throws much better on the move than he does in the pocket."

Talk about (FS) Tony Bua.
"He is a good player. He played linebacker for them for a period of time, then they moved him to free safety. They use him, basically, as a run-stopper. He will make a lot of tackles. He may be leading their tackle chart. (He leads them with 100 tackles.-Gene) They will bring him up and blitz him. He seems like he has been there forever."

Talk about their running game.
"At the beginning of the year they were very effective against Texas. When they got those players hurt...(flanker) DeCori Birmingham was playing defensive back. They also brought a receiver over to running back and were not as productive. You can tell the difference."

Talk about the advantage Arkansas has in Fayetteville.
"Anytime you play in Fayetteville and Little Rock, there aren't too many teams that have been able to go in and win. Their fans have certainly done a great job. The noise level at Little Rock is just as loud as it is anywhere else. All the way back to the '60's there are a lot of teams that have had a hard time going into Fayetteville or Little Rock and winning."

Talk about your senior leadership.
"There is no question that Justin Jenkins, Aaron Lumpkin, Blake Jones, Kevin Fant have worked very, very hard and provided the leadership. Where we are lacking is we need some more (seniors) but this team is not laden with senior starters."

Talk about not practicing Monday.
"We have a lot of bumps and bruises. I am glad we gave them off from practice until today. Some of these guys who will be on the field (Tuesday) wouldn't have been there yesterday. So, it has given us the ability to get them on the field. It has helped to rest them and spread it out because of the short week next week."

Talk a little about the young guys that will be back next season.
"These young guys will grown up and end up being the leaders. You will have all three of (the running backs) back. All three will have experience and will really help you. We will have a lot of guys back up front. (Brad) Weathers and (Otis) Riddley will be back. And you can put the rest of them together. Everybody but Blake (Jones) will be back. Everybody, defensively, will be back except for Tommy (Kelly) and Lennie Day. So, you have a lot of guys who will be back and playing."

Will you practice on Sunday next week?
"Yes. Sunday's practice will be a combination of Sunday and Monday. Monday will be a combination of Monday and Tuesday. And Tuesday will be combination of Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday will be a Wednesday-Thursday combination. You have to double up all those days. But, you still can't keep them on the field (too long) because you have to be fresh."

Will Wednesday's practice be more of a walk-through type practice?
"No, we will probably go out and practice. Wednesday will actually be a Wednesday-Thursday combination."

Since next Thursday's game is a night game, will you have a meeting that morning?
"We will meet Thursday morning. That is a normal routine we have when we play at night. We try to get them out of their rooms when we play at night. What you try to guard against are players laying in their rooms all day. Sometimes, that makes them a lot more groggy than if you get them up and move them around."

Because of the short week next week, do you have to start preparing for the next team this week?
"You get all the film broken down. You have all that done prior (to practice). So, you have a pretty good feel because it is already in the computer. But, to study them, no, we won't do that until we get back Sunday."


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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