Practice schedule this week.
"Our schedule (for practice, watching film and having meetings) has been where we can give them the most rest possible. We go in mid-morning and finish everything mid-afternoon. That gives them a little more time at night to rest."
Ole Miss QB Eli Manning.
"I have been watching Eli for four years. Every year that I have watched him he has progressed. He is, without a doubt, better than most quarterbacks who have played the game. One thing that he has really improved is being able to get rid of the ball and not get sacked. He has only gotten sacked 13 times this year. When you play 11 games and only get sacked 13 times, that means the quarterback is doing an outstanding job of getting the ball out of his hands or evading those one or two guys (rushing him). The throws he makes are very catchable balls."
"When you have a chunker and catcher, that means you can't gang up on the run or drop everybody off. They have done a very, very good job of been very balanced. Their kicking game has certainly improved. Their punter has been more productive. They have done a very good job protecting him except for a couple of times. (Jonathan) Nichols is a very good kicker. He really has a good leg."
"We are still banged up upfront. We have to shuffle people around. (Wide receiver) Ray Ray (Bivines) is not going to play. It doesn't look like (fullback) Bryson (Davis) will be able to play. That is going to force us to move one of our tight ends (Nick Signaigo) back to fullback. I don't think (backup center) Chris McNeil will be back. Defensively, we should have everybody back."
The MSU seniors.
"They have done a very good job. You have to give a lot of recognition, a lot of credit to them. There were about three of four of them (Blake Jones, Aaron Lumpkin) that had an opportunity to not come back due to injuries. But they rushed themselves back and played hurt."
What did you do in 2001 to slow Eli Manning down?
"We were able to take care of the quick step. Their offense has changed drastically since 2001. At that time, the first four third downs that they had, they threw the out pattern three out of the four. He was more or less all timing routes, throwing quick, throwing the out. He threw one post. We intercepted the out. We covered the tight end and made him hold the ball a little longer than he wanted to. The difference now is they throw the ball downfield and throw it very, very well. I would say that Eli's arm is stronger than (his brother) Peyton's at this stage of his career."
What is your opinion of Ole Miss' defense?
"They can run. That is probably the best asset they have. They move very, very quick. They are not 300+ pounders, but when the ball is snapped they are moving. They are a very good tackling football team. That is also very evident in their coverage teams because they do a good job on kickoff coverage."
In your 13 years in this series are there any personal memories that you remember?
"There are some games in the series where you think if you had done a better job you would have won."
Are there any particular Ole Miss - MSU games that stand out in your mind?
"There are two or three that stand out. In 1991, we won here. In 1992, we went up there and tried to do some silly things on the goal line and they made a good goal line stand. I don't know if the calls we made were the right calls. They came back here and won coming from behind. It was 3rd and 23 or 4th down and they completed the long pass that gave them the chance to move down the field and score, then go for two and win the game."
How important is it to end your career with more wins than losses against your team's rival?
"Anytime you are on the plus side of the ledger with your rival team, then you will always be remembered. In-state, whether it is Texas-Texas A&M or Penn State-Pittsburgh or Alabama-Auburn, then you are going to be remembered."
Do you want your kids to win this game for you since it is your last game?
"No, I don't want them to do that. If they are playing the game for me, then they had better not show up because that is not what you do."
Do you have to guard against players being too emotionally hyped for this game?
"Not really, but you don't get them ready to play too early. We have had very good practices. (Our first and second teams) are going against each other (in practice) because we didn't keep the scout teams here. We did that because you can only take 80 (players) to the hotel and you can only take care of 80 once Friday was here. You weren't able to feed them or house them, so it wasn't fair to those kids to make them stay, although we did have some kids who stayed (anyway)."
Have you thought about this being your last game as a coach?
"I really haven't even thought about it. I'll probably do that when I walk out for pregame warmups."
Will you help the new coach when he is hired?
"I am going to help whoemver comes in. In fact, I have already started. I went through and put a book together evaluating every player. I did the same thing for what the needs are for recruiting purposes."
Since this is the last game of your coaching career and you will not have to start preparing for next season, what are your plans for next week?
"Peggy has already decided what I will be doing. She didn't ask me but told me what we are doing. The first thing we will do is take our grand baby back to Memphis Tuesday."
When you attend MSU football games next year, where do you plan on sitting?
"I plan on sitting in the Dog Pound with the students. If I have to, I'll even take my shirt off (like some of them do)."
What if someone tries to take your cowbell away from you when you are in the stands?
"I don't think they will try to do that."
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.