What do you guys need to do to win this game?
"We have to take control of the line of scrimmage if we want to win the game. That helped against Kentucky. We got after it really hard against them and controlled the line of scrimmage. We also ran the ball well against them. If we can continue doing that, then we can probably beat anybody."
You are from Alabama. Talk about that aspect of the game as far as you are concerned.
"It is a big game for me. When I was younger, I was an Alabama fan. But I got out of that since I have been here. I'm looking forward to going into Bryant-Denny Stadium and play them. I went to games there when I was younger. It is a great place to play.
"It is a good opportunity for us. Plus, it is the next step to a winning season. We want to win out and try to get a bowl bid. This is the next step in doing that."
You have a ankle immobilizer on your right leg. How is your ankle?
"It is a little sore from the game but it's not as bad as this thing looks. It's kind of sore so I wore this while I walked to class today so I would feel good for practice."
Were you able to practice (Monday)?
"They kept me out yesterday. I was wearing this. I may have been able to practice but they decided it was best that I didn't."
How is the injury situation with the offensive linemen?
"I've got the bad ankle. Courtney Lee has a bad ankle. Derrick Thompson's knees are bothering him. Kenric Fairchild also is injured."
Will all of you be able to practice today?
"Tuesday is very important as far as getting ready to play, so I think we will all try to practice today."
How much does it hurt the offensive line to not be able to practice together every day at practice?
"It is good to work together during the week. I think we get a lot of reps together. We all get out there and suck it up during practice so that we can prepare for the game."
Q & A WITH RECEIVER JUSTIN JENKINS
Last weekend's game had to be a confidence builder for not just this team but you as well.
"It was a confidence builder for everybody because we had been losing and to come up with a win was something that we had been looking for for a while. The chemistry was there. We came together as a team."
The receivers caught the ball really well. That had to be a confidence booster for the entire receiving unit.
"We felt that Kentucky would try and stop the run. It was going to be up to their defensive backs to win the game for them. Coach put a lot of pressure on us throughout the week telling us we were going to have to make plays. We made a pact that we were going to go out there and do our best."
On your touchdown pass, talk about what went through you mind from the time you stepped up to the line of scrimmage to the moment you caught the pass.
"We were expecting him to pressure but (the DB) didn't. It kind of threw the play off a bit. It was just a regular fade route, a play that we had been working on for a couple of weeks. We hadn't run it this season. We got in the huddle and Kevin Fant said it's time. We kind of smiled at each other. Fortunately the pass was there and I made a play."
Q & A WITH QUARTERBACK KEVIN FANT
Do you and the other players watch the game film together and get graded on your performance?
"It is mainly the quarterbacks and receivers watching it together. We don't really talk about individuals. We talk about what went wrong with the play. You know when you did good. Mainly in the film room we look at the mistakes and try to correct them."
Do you think the Kentucky game was your best game overall?
"Let me put it this way, it was the most confident that I have ever been since I have been here. I didn't have any worries while I was in there. I felt really confident. That helped me out a lot."
I saw you play against South Panola HS in Batesville with 10,000 SPHS fans at the game. You had a tremendous game that night. Are you near being that type quarterback here?
"I think confidence-wise I am getting there. I am getting to the point where I don't have to think twice. It is coming natural to me. Confidence is a key to playing quarterback. Right before you throw a ball if you aren't confident, that can make a difference."
You will probably play a lot this weekend. Will it bother you to play in front of 85,000 hostile fans?
"No, not all. I will probably be a little nervous my first play, but after that you are so in tuned to the game that you don't notice the crowd. I have always been that way. I am so in the game that I don't notice the crowd."
Do you consider yourself a take charge kind of quarterback? When you get into the huddle do you try to take complete charge of it?
"I try to."
Do you get on a player in the huddle when they make a mistake?
"There are different kinds of leadership. What I try to do during practice is get on people but during the game you don't want to get into a player's head because you want to keep him focused. A player knows when he did something wrong, you don't want to embarrass him in front of 50,000 people. When I do something wrong, I know that I did it. I don't need somebody getting on my back, so I don't try to do that. I just say this is what I saw and this is what you saw, let's try to do better the next play."
Do you think the job of the quarterback is to to be the leader of the offense?
"That is what I have always been taught since I have been playing here. I'm not the greatest quarterback in the world, but I just to go out there and give what the team needs. I try to give them high energy, especially as a backup player. Sometimes they have to calm me down in the huddle (laugh). Last year, Dicenzo had to tell me to calm down because I was so loud the other team could hear me calling out the plays. I've calmed down a lot."
Coach Sherrill talks about knowing the right checks for each play. Do you feel like you have that part of your game down now?
"I think so. Coach Woods has really worked with me on that a lot. We work all week in practice on checks. I think I have it down but I'm not saying that I have it completely down. I have a good grasp of it."
What do you feel is your main weakness as a quarterback?
"Last week (prior to the game) I would have said confidence. After last Saturday, I feel a lot better about my confidence. I felt like a starter when I was out there. It felt really good.
"I would say my weakness is sometimes I am too aggressive. Being a backup, you usually come in when you are down so you have to be aggressive. You have to throw the ball downfield or you won't come back. It's like I'm trying to go too fast sometimes. I've been working on that."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.