[Premium article] MSU head football coach Jackie Sherrill and a couple of MSU players talk about the upcoming game with BYU.


About BYU:
"It seems like a long time ago when I was talking about them. I pulled out my notes and noticed that it was their fourth game and our second game. Even back then they had played a lot of games.

"One thing you notice about them is their age. They have some kids that are 26 years old and a bunch that are 24. They will average 23 (years old) on both sides of the football. It makes a big difference when you line up against someone who is 25 like their quarterback.

"They are very physical up front. Last year we didn't control or knock their inside people off the ball. They are not real fancy, defensively. They just line up in a straight defense. They will slant their inside guys but they aren't going to do a lot of blitzing. They just line up and, physically, try to take care of their gap responsibility.

"Their quarterback (Brandon Dorman) has been very efficient. That is probably the biggest difference in their football team compared to last year. He has done a tremendous job running the option and throwing the football.

"Their kicking game is very good. They allow very few returns. Their punter does a very good job of keeping the ball away from returners. He will directional kick it right or left trying to keep it away from the returner.

"It looks like they are healthy. Usually when you go through a season where you have the ability to win you usually keep everybody healthy.

"The weather will be a plus for them. Right now, it is snowing (in Utah) so the cold and rain won't bother them."

Talk about BYU halfback Luke Staley.
"He is a very good running back. He is 6-foot-1 and 222. He is a very talented player. He can catch and he can do the things that you are looking for in a running back. He is not going to run a 4.4 but I haven't seen a lot of people catch him. They have done a very good job of getting the ball to him outside on the option game. They'll run the zone, the sweep and the option. They run a lot of running plays inside and out."

Are they similar to any team that Mississippi State has played this year?
"Their offense is very similar to Kentucky except they can run the football. They can spread you out and throw like Kentucky. They will go three wide and four wideouts. At times, they have gone with no backs. Defensively, we haven't played anybody as physical as they are up front. You could match them with LSU as far as defense goes."

Normally, Ole Miss is your last game of the year. It is also usually the most emotional of all the games Mississippi State plays. Are you worried about getting your team emotionally up for this game?
"That could be a problem. The same thing happens to us when we play Alabama, then go and play Arkansas. Usually, that is not an emotional game for our team or our fans. With this being the last game and with BYU being ranked (9th), hopefully, we will be excited about playing them."

MSU injuries:
"I think that everybody that played Saturday will be back. We will get Dorsett (Davis) back. Eugene Liger, Milas Randle, Walter Burdett and Robert Spivey will not play."

Talk about Kevin Fant.
"He did a great job of putting us in the right checks. We gave him a lot of checks at the line of scrimmage. He had one throw that he threw high. We still had the opportunity to catch it but it would have been a tough catch. That was the only pass that was not catchable. He throws catchable balls. He was very steady from beginning to end."

How is Wayne Madkin's recovery coming along?
"(Dr. Linton) will probably begin letting him do something in three to four weeks. I had someone email me who thought we ought to start Wayne (Madkin) and let him take the first snap and let Kevin (Fant) come in. It is kind of tough when you have a boot cast on your leg. I guess we could put him in a shotgun and let him hand it off. (However), if something happened with the snap we would be in trouble."

Talk about the seniors.
"They have won a lot of football games for us. They have probably won more games at Mississippi State than any class in many, many years. They have done a great job. They have brought a lot of joy and excitement to Mississippi State. Five of them will graduate in December. Most of this class will graduate on time or a semester late. There are certainly some players in this group who will have the opportunity to play on the next level. A lot of these guys will continue with their education by going on to graduate school."

Wet practice fields.
"The problem we are having now are the wet practice fields. They are wet and it appears that they will stay wet all week. We really need to get outside so that we can get some work against their throwing and options games."

How about talking about next year's Oregon game.
"Larry (Templeton) and I have talked about this; if we are going to play (teams), let's play (teams) that will benefit us. You don't benefit from playing somebody that you are supposed to beat by 30 or 40 points. Even if you do, you don't really gain anything. Having an opportunity to open up with Oregon will give (us) the opportunity to be on national television (ABC Network). It gives you an opportunity to take your football program all the way across the country. They will come back here and be on ESPN on a Thursday night (to open year 2003). Our schedule next year is probably the best in the SEC. It also may be the most difficult. We will have six to seven home games from here on out, which is a big plus. Our schedule for the next four or five years is very, very exciting. They are certainly schedules that we can sell a stadium out with."


Talk about BYU.
"They are hungry. They think they deserve a BCS bowl game. We are also hungry and have a lot to prove. This is our last home game and we want to remember that we won our last home game. We want this game to be a stepping stone for next year's team."

How do you feel about what the seniors have accomplished while you have been here?
"We came in as a class ready to make things happen. The four years that we have been here I feel that our class has ready done a lot to help this program win ballgames."

What are you most proud of?
"Playing in the three bowls. I think we are the only class in Mississippi State history that has played in three bowl games. I'm also proud of the 3-1 record that we have against Ole Miss."

How does it make you feel to know that your team was always in the Western Division race in three of the four Novembers during your time here?
"That makes me feel good because everybody will remember what you did during the month of November."

What has been your proudest individual accomplishment?
"Probably scoring in three of four games against Ole Miss is my proudest accomplishment."

What would you change about your career if you could?
"Stay healthy (laugh)."

How do you want to be remembered by the fans of Mississippi State?
"I play each game like it is my last game. I want to leave here knowing that the fans know that Dicenzo always gave it his all and made plays for Mississippi State."


You had a great game against Ole Miss. Talk about your game.
"It felt very good. I have been waiting to play like that all year. Doing it against Ole Miss made it just that much better. It also was great to play like that in front of a record crowd."

I have heard rumors that you got contacts during the middle part of the season. Is that true?
"I corrected my eye problem after the Troy State game. I put them in before practice and games. It was a big difference on the field after I started wearing them. It is like playing ball in the backyard."

You just played Ole Miss, your rival game. It was a very emotional game. How will the team get back up for BYU?
"It will be easy to get up for this game. We went out there last year and beat them. I'm sure they didn't like that. With them having a great season, they will be ready to play us."

With so many great young players coming back next season, is this game important as a spring board for next year's team and as an indicator to MSU fans that next year's team has a chance to be a great team?
"Yes, we want to win this game and make it a building block for next year. We want people to know we could have been doing this all year and that they can look for a big season out of us next season."

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at

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