[Premium article] Coach Sherrill, Dicenzo Miller and Demetric Wright talk about the upcoming game with Mississippi.


Players that are injured or not full speed:
"Players that won't play are Eugene Liger, Milas Randle, Robert Spivey and Walter Burdett. What is bad about it is three of them play the same position. They also play on special teams and that will hurt. Players that are questionable are Dorsett Davis, Pig Prather, Terrell Grindle, Harold Lindsey and Kenric Fairchild. Players that are not full speed in practice are Kevin Fant, Courtney Lee, Donald Lee, Darnell Jones, Kahlil Nash, Conner Stephens, Dicenzo Miller and Derrick Thompson. Those guys will play but they aren't 100%. Playing two games back to back that were very physical games, then having a short week really hurts us and our chance to get some of these guys well."

Which team has the advantage coming into the game:
"The game is at 6:30 p.m. and I'm glad we are playing it here. Mississippi not having classes certainly gives them an advantage because you have more rest time and more meeting time."

What are Grindle's and Lindsey's injuries?
"It is tendinitis. He has had that all year. Usually by the end of the week he is ok but with the short week we will have to limit his practice to make sure he can play Thursday. Harold has something like a sprained arch in his foot. He will not practice today."

Since it is a short week, how will your practices change?
"The difference is we will go out for an hour and a half tomorrow plus kicking. I would have liked to practice tomorrow morning but because we are in class we can't. Normally (the day prior to a game) we take off, go to a movie in the afternoon and go to dinner. Because it is a Thursday night game, we have time for a meeting in the morning. That helps."

When will you have the Thanksgiving meal for the players?
"We will have that for them (Wednesday) night. It won't be like they get at home (laugh)."

You've watched film of the Ole Miss defense. What can you say about their defense?
"The first thing you notice is they have speed and run to the football. It takes you a long period to time to study it and figure out what they are trying to do defensively. They have a lot of guys running. They will have an outside linebacker who will run all the way in to the guard-center gap, which we call the A gap. It is a defense that still has gap responsibility. The only two players who you know will stay in their position are their two cornerbacks. They'll take their free safety and walk him up at times."

As the season as progressed, it is pretty clear that they have a really hard time stopping the run.
"Defensive style, you have to go one of two ways. One, are you run stoppers? Are you going to be able to defeat a block at the line of scrimmage and stop the run. If you do that, you usually can't play pass defense. What you are trying to do is find players who can run, play pass defense and are good enough to take blockers on and get rid of them. It is difficult to find those type guys. If you don't have size up front it is difficult to stop the running game unless you turn people loose. Most teams today are going to play some fashion of an eight-man front.

"Offensively, they have been very balanced, about 50-50 run, pass. They are basically play-action. He will drop back and throw the quick pass. They are not split backs or one back. They are more of a play-action protection where they block gaps to protect him."

Are you surprised that Eli (Manning) has done so well early in his career?
"No, he has had all the advantages that you can have as a quarterback. The first time he picked up a football he probably was coached the right way in how to grip it. He has had some great schooling at home and from his brother. I don't know if there is a harder working player than Peyton Manning. Some of that has had to rub off on Eli, although they say Eli is more of a free spirit. But mechanic-wise he is very, very sound, kind of like Sims at Texas, another player who should have the advantage over a lot of players."

Will all the injuries you have effect your game plan?
"Anytime you can't practice a player, it effects your game. Also, you are concerned because you have to play some younger players."

What is Kevin Fant's injury?
"(Kevin) Fant has a knee injury. When he got hit he had a neck injury. On the play where he got knocked out of the game he got hit under the chin after the whistle. It should have been a penalty but it wasn't. He came out and then went back in and threw the touchdown pass."

Talk about Dicenzo Miller.
"Dicenzo is without a doubt the best football player that we have on our team. You go back through his career, even back to when he was a freshman, he was very good then. If he had been able to stay healthy, you are looking at a player who could have set some rushing records."

Why do you think is the reason for his having so many injuries during his career?
"Because of how he runs. He gives you everything that he has. He is not going to go down easy. You see a lot of backs when they first get hit, they go down. He is not that type. He doesn't have 4.2 or 4.3 speed but I have never seen anybody catch him. He has worked to increase his strength and is a lot stronger this year than he was last year."

How much do you think this team has improved since the middle of the season?
"It has in a lot of ways. They have practiced better. We are a young football team. Out of the 44 (1st and 2nd unit players), 34 are underclassmen. With Wayne Madkin out, that goes to 35."

How did Kevin Fant do during the Arkansas game?
"He did good. He had two passes that I wished we had back, the two interceptions. The one he threw at the goal line he just didn't lead Grindle enough. The one that he threw down field, if he had put enough air under it, it wouldn't have been intercepted. He threw the ball to the right people and he will get better and better."

It is an advantage for Fant that he played so much against them last year?
"No, it is two different teams compared to what they did defensively last year and what they are doing this year. Offensively, they are similar but Eli is different than Romaro (Miller)."


Talk about the Ole Miss game.
"The next two games are my last games and I want to go out on a winning note, especially with this game because I can have bragging rights for the rest of my life. All of the other seniors feel the same way. We just need to go out there and play hard for four quarters."

The offense seems to be improving each game over the past few games.
"I think so. The last game we really didn't start moving the ball until the third or fourth quarter. If we can continue to keep moving the ball and keep our defense off the field we can continue to make plays and make things happen."

How is your ankle?
"It is doing good. I am back to 100%. It has been a long road. I feel I can have my best game this week."

Coach Sherrill mentioned that if he had known have things have gone so far, he would have probably sat you down but you aren't the kind of guy you can sit down.
"I am a competitor. I know the injury was keeping me down but I was going to fight through it and help my team."

With people now seeing flashes of what this offense could have been, do you wonder what if?
"Yes, but we don't need to do that. We just need to take care of business. This is our bowl game now and we need to come out and win this game."


You know their tendencies more so than other teams because you lived so closed to them over the years.
"I was just a 20 minute drive from them and I stayed over there a lot. I pretty much know their game plan will be to go toward me. I just have to be ready."

Do you like to play a team with the passing attack that Ole Miss has?
"I am looking forward to the challenge. There has been a lot of talk in the papers about what they are going to do. I'm just ready to prove them wrong."

How will you defend a team like Ole Miss?
"We have to put pressure on Eli so that he makes decisions he doesn't want to make."

How much does this game mean to you since it is Mississippi?
"It means a lot to me since my hometown is near that. Six of my former teammates play on the team so it's bragging rights for me."

When you and Tommy Kelly changed your minds about going to Ole Miss and decided on Mississippi State, their fans said some extremely harsh things about both of you. Because of that, is there a little bit of a revenge factor for you?
"It is going to be special because of the things they said about us when we didn't sign with them. We are looking forward to making them eat their words."

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