2nd Scrimmage Quotes

Mississippi State players and head coach Sly Croom gave their opinions about MSU's second scrimmage of spring training.


Talk about the progress you saw from the first scrimmage to the second one.
"We started off a lot better, but as we got into it, we started getting sloppy with pre-snap penalties.

"There is no question that Omarr (Conner) has made the most drastic improvement over the last three or four days of practice. His drops have improved. His knowledge of the plays and understanding what we are trying to get done is better. His poise in the pocket is better. Those are the things that he has to continue to work on.

"Jerious Norwood continues to have an excellent spring. I was very concerned about that position prior to spring practice. I think we have made some improvements there.

"Our offensive line is getting better, but we still have a long way to go. We are getting in the neutral zone a little better. I am concerned about their conditioning.

"I think our defense is stating to wear down a little bit. That is the way it is going to be due to our numbers. That's all we have and what we will have to deal with. They've got to get mentally tougher. That's why we put them in some goal line situations. We wanted to see how they would respond in an adverse situation."

Do you see much of a drop off between the first and second team defenses?
"I think we are similar, particularly up front. We are still experimenting at linebacker. And I think the secondary is starting to get tested a little more due to our quarterback play and the play of our receivers, especially McKinley Scott. We are still concerned about Culberson's ankle. The trainers assured me that he won't hurt anything by playing, but I don't like the way he is limping around."


The defense dominated the first scrimmage and the offense had the better of it in the second scrimmage. What was the difference?
"I think it was mostly due to us coming out more focused. The lineman gave the quarterback enough time, the receivers got open and Omarr put it on the money. And the defense had a couple of busted plays."

Was it also partly due to the players better understanding the offense?
"Yeah, we understand the plays better. At first, it was tough but, now, everything is getting clearer."

I noticed Omarr and Aries ran out of the pocket quite a bit today. What is your responsibility, as a receiver, when they do that?
"Adjust your route. If you are deep, you have to come back to the ball. If you are short, you have to go down. You just have to get open as best you can and make sure they know you are open."

Did you do that on any of your touchdowns?
"Yeah, on the second one. I think they blitzed and there was nobody on me, so I threw my hand up and Omarr saw me."


The offense was much better today. What was the reason for the improvement of you and Omarr?
"We looked at the film to see what the problem was. It wasn't anything major. It was just us having our first scrimmage. I told you earlier to wait and see how we did the second scrimmage. We were just more patient. The defense is always going to start off faster than the offense because all they have to do is find the ball. We have to make reads."

Was part of your success today due to understanding the offensive scheme a little better?
"Yeah, I think so. Also, last week, we had to get used to how quick the game was. Last year, I played the upback and Omarr was a wide receiver. Receiver speed and upback speed is totally different from quarterback speed. Last week showed us how quick the game was and how fast we have to make our reads and our throws."


Did you feel more comfortable this scrimmage compared to the first one?
"I felt more comfortable. The first scrimmage was my first time to play center."

Why do you feel the offense was so much better this scrimmage?
"I think we learned the system a little bit better. Plus, last time we had a few drop balls. The receivers caught the ball better today."

You wore the defense down late in the first scrimmage and played well against them the entire scrimmage this time.
"One thing about these coaches is they are going to shoot you straight. And they told us that we didn't look good. So, we went out and got to where we needed to be."


What was the difference for you from the first to the second scrimmage?
"The difference was I studied harder and listened to my coaches. Last Saturday, I had happy feet. When the rusher would come at me last Saturday, instead of making the play by throwing the ball, I tried to use my legs like I was still in high school. Today, I settled myself down."

Even though you said you had happy feet last week, you still moved out of the pocket quite a bit today.
"When I moved out of the pocket today, I knew my receivers would work back to me."

Do you think your teammates are starting to trust your decision-making skills?
"Yes sir, I think my teammates understand my ability and what God has given me. I'm always going to try and make plays for my teammates, because I know I can make plays."

Even though the receivers caught some balls today, they still drop quite a few as well.
"Everybody just has to settle themselves down. When we first came out, everybody was a little jittery. When we all got in a mode where they were settled down, everybody started making plays."

Jerious and Fred ran the ball well today.
"They do that everyday. We have some good backs. They are going to put it on the line everytime they get the ball."

Carlton Rice is also a good addition to the backfield.
"He is a bruiser. He is going to run over you. He is not going to run around you, he is going to run through you."

What improvements did you see from the offensive line?
"They picked up the blitz better. They settled down and listened to (OL) Coach Grimes."

How much of the offense do you guys know?
"Right now, I would say about 19%. We get about 20 plays per day."


What was the reason for the offensive improvement?
"Our defense is great. Everybody flies to the ball. I don't think the defense had a letdown. I think the offense started coming together. I thought that the offensive line and everybody is starting to get the terminology down. Everybody is picking up on what they are supposed to be doing."

Omarr and Aries played well today. They appeared to understand what they needed to do in the offense.
"I think they learned a lot more. Coach McCorvey has done a great job with both of them. Both of them are very talented. We have two guys who can really run. If they are getting rushed and feel pressure, they are out of the pocket. It's almost like Michael Vick, just not that fast. They are both really great athletes."

What is your opinion of this West Coast offense?
"It is pretty rough. I told the guys earlier, of all the offenses that I have been in, this is the hardest, by far."

What makes it so hard?
"Every play you have to pick up different guys. You have to know who is coming on different blitzes. Plus, the terminology for each play is almost like a paragraph. You are trying to take it all in and pick out the key words you are listening for. Something like putting me in motion and different things like that."

Could learning so much have been part of the problem the first scrimmage?
"Yeah, exactly. Each day, you learn a little more and get better at it. Each day you run the plays over and over and get better. I really believe by the times two-a-days come, we will be rolling. I really think we will have a real good season this year."

Does it worry you that you only have a small portion of the offense installed?
"The coaches have told us that we only have a little bit installed right now, but everything will go together. Each time they put something in, it will fit with what we already know."

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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