[Premium site article. Portions of this press conference is on the free site football skuttle-butt.] Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talks about the upcoming game with LSU.


Injury situation.
"We have a lot of players who we are very concerned about getting practice time this week to get them ready to play. Justin Griffith is lost for the season. He will be operated on Friday morning. He has a bone spur in his neck that has to be removed. Courtney Lee (has an ankle injury). Danny Snyder (has a knee injury). Derrick Thompson (has a knee injury). Dontae Walker (has a hip flexor). We have Jason Clark back. We have a lot of players who will practice but will be very limited. Kenric Fairchild (has a knee injury). Julius Griffith (has an ankle injury). Mario Haggan (has an ankle injury). Blake Jones (has an ankle injury). Darnell Jones (has a knee injury). Harold Lindsey (has a quad and hamstring pull). Wayne Madkin (has a shoulder injury). Dicenzo Miller (has an ankle injury). Kahlil Nash (has an ankle injury). All of those guys will be on the practice field but will be limited in practice. Dicenzo is about 75% healthy. Except for Justin (Griffith), we hope all of the players will play. This may be the worse number of injuries that we have ever had at one time. We may have had this number in two-a-days but not during the season."

What this team needs right now?
"What this team needs right now are players to make plays. I told Wayne that 'you are a better quarterback today than you were the last three years. You are putting us in the right checks and throwing to the right person. The difference is you aren't making plays. During the past three years you have made plays to help win games.' However, the stats don't reflect dropped balls, sacks and pressures.

"We have only had one period of time where we made plays and that was in the Memphis game when Dicenzo (Miller) made the big run and all of sudden we came back with a punt block.

"Our biggest problem is we have been in too many second and longs. We have to improve on those.

"The player who has played better than anticipated is (punter) Jared Cook. Jared has done very, very well and has made some big plays. He has made three tackles. You don't want your punter to ever have to make tackles but he has had to."

Talk about Dicenzo Miller.
"The bell cow for this team is one guy, Dicenzo Miller. He has made plays for the last four years. Last year, he made a lot of plays. He played well in the BYU game and the Florida game."

Talk about Josh Morgan and Pig Prather.
"Josh Morgan has played very well. In fact, Josh is playing better this year than he did last year. He is playing very, very well. He has probably been the most consistent player on defense with Pig next. Pig had that one missed tackle but other than that he has been all over the field. Josh, Pig and Mario (Haggan) are the guys who are the leaders on defense."

Talk about the young receivers.
"We want to play Ray Ray Bivines and Antonio Hargro more and more. They will get better but it takes time. I don't think they they will know every route and adjustment this year because there will be a lot of things that will be different every week. You put them out there and have them run routes that gives them an opportunity to be successful. I'll use Eric Moulds as an example. It took him three years in pro ball. It wasn't because he didn't have talent. It just took him time to learn what he had to do."

Talk about the new defensive linemen.
"We are not very consistent right now Tommy Kelly has probably played better than any of the new guys. Ronald Fields has played well at times and not played well at times."

Talk about the offensive line play this year.
"The problem we have is just like today. We have two tackles who won't be practicing today and we have one who won't be at practice until Wednesday or Thursday. Courtney Lee may not be able to practice until Thursday. Last week we had four of the five (starters) banged up and the freshman, David Stewart, had to start at right tackle. Kenric came in but did not play as well as he normally plays. We are going to have to play some other guys. It really helps if those guys can stay healthy and play every down."

Talk about how this year has gone so far.
"This has been a different year. I told our staff (Tuesday morning) that if you stay in this profession long enough you are going to have years like this."

Talk about LSU.
"LSU is a team that has a lot of speed. They are playing physical on both sides of the ball. They have a lot of returning players. That was why they were picked to win the West. They are very good on special teams because they put a lot of speed on their special teams. They are leading the conference in kickoff coverage and in kickoff returns because of the speed that they have. There is no question that the spark on their football team is Rohan Davey. Last year when they brought him in against Arkansas and in the bowl game and during this year's games he was the spark for their offense.

"It is an advantage for them to play at 8 p.m. because they are very accustomed to playing at night. You want to play them early instead of at night because they play very well at night.

"Offensively, LSU has very good balance. Josh Reed leads the league in receiving. They have size up front. Against us, I feel they will play two tight ends a lot. They will also play two tight ends and have a wing set.

"Defensively, they have a lot of size up front. Their linebackers are really good, especially Trev Faulk. Bradie James and Jeremy Lawrence are the other linebackers and they are very, very good. They have maturity in the secondary."


What is the mentality of this team?
"We are playing to get our confidence back. A lot of guys on this team, especially me, have never had a four-game losing streak. We don't want it to go to five."

What does he need to do as a team captain to help this team?
"As a team captain I am trying to stay positive."


MSU goals?
"We had a lot of goals earlier in the season but it hasn't gone the way that we planned it. What we are trying to do is get our team unity and team chemistry the way it should be and reel off a couple of victories to get this team back to how it should be."

"They are going to come out and play hard and try to put up the points. We are at a bad point right now. They are going to come in with a lot of confidence thinking that they can score.

"Last year they got going early and got us away from doing what we usually do on defense and that is stopping the run. They got one running back going, then they got a second running back going. That opened up the passing game for them. What we are going to have to do this year is stop the run and play our style of defense."

How important is it for this team to come out early and make something happen?
"It is going to be very important to make plays early. With the record that we have and the way things have been going, you hear a lot of negative talk around the campus and the state but not around the team. We have to come out early and make plays and get the guys to thinking we can beat this team."

Will this MSU team be able to turn it around later in the season?
"I see a great outcome for this team at the end of the year. We still have a lot of guys who are focused on the remainder of the season. If we get one win we will get this train rolling."

How does it feel to have to sit and watch instead of being out on the field?
"It was very frustrating. I wanted to be out there Saturday but it wasn't my time to play. I prayed before the game and asked the Lord 'if it was my time to be on the field, then let me go out there.' I didn't go, so it wasn't my time to play."


What is your injury?
"I have a knee injury and an ankle injury but the ankle is just slight. The knee is the problem. It is difficult to play on but it is one of the sacrifices that you have to make for the team."

How much does it hurt your play during the game when you have not practiced during the week?
"Because I have been through it so many times, it doesn't effect me that much." (Kenric is a senior)

Since you don't practice during the week, what is a typical work week for you?
"On Monday and Tuesday I am in the training room getting treatment. I then go out and watch team practice. I make it out to practice about Wednesday or Thursday but not in full gear."

With the injuries that you have, what percent of your ability are you able to play with each Saturday?
"With the medicine that I take, I don't really feel (the injury) until Sunday. I feel that I am about 95%."

What does the knee feel like Sunday?
"It swells back up since the shot has wore off. Basically, I just sit around the house until I have to come (to Shira Field House) because it is hard for me to walk. The pain is not that bad but the swelling is what makes it ache. The swelling is constantly making the kneecap move around which pulls on the ligament."

When was the last time you were completely healthy?
"The first half of Florida."

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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