Offensive coordinator Woody McCorvey
What got your guys going in the second half after a scoreless first half?
"The interception gave us good field position. We had worked a lot in that area the last week in practice. In the first half we had some opportunities but hurt ourselves stopping drives with a bad pass or dropping a ball. We came in at halftime and talked about what we wanted to do. We wanted to throw the ball a little more on first down, particularly play-action passes. And that really helped us. We gave Omarr Conner a rest (in the second half) because he was a little exhausted. He is one of those kids who really gets hyper. So, Coach Croom suggested taking him out and letting him settle himself down. When he went back in, he did a really good job for us."
What difference did you see from Omarr in the second half compared to the first half?
"I was concerned about him before we left the locker room because he was nervous due to this being his first start at quarterback. All week long he had done a good job, but I think it might have been a little false confidence. He was trying to make us feel comfortable with him, but I was a little nervous about him before we went out. When we went in at halftime, we told him we were going to call plays to his strength which is play-action, setting him on the edge and letting him get out of the pocket. That is what he is most comfortable with right now. He is not real comfortable sitting in the pocket on some five-step drops."
Coach Croom said at this time last week you wouldn't have won this game. Where did you see the improvement occur from last week to this week?
"Tuesday's practice wasn't very good. We came back Wednesday and a lot of the things we were working on, particularly the third down phases of your game, is where you could see the improvements. The players were a lot more focused at practice Wednesday because he got on them pretty hard Tuesday. Wednesday, it picked up. Thursday was a really good practice. (Friday), when we came out and did our mark game you could tell the focus was there."
Some of the roll outs that you had Omarr do weren't really part of the West Coast system.
"All of those were in the system that Coach (Croom) brought from Green Bay. A lot of the other West Coast systems don't use them as much. With a quarterback like Favre, he felt comfortable doing those things. They play to Omarr strengths. A lot of time on third down, we can utilize him and get him outside so that he can throw those type patterns."
Did you plan on playing backup running back Fred Reid as much as you did?
"We knew we were going to have to play both of them quite a bit. We didn't know if we were going to be able to go any deeper than those two, but we definitely wanted to play both of them."
How significant was it to you to be a part of this game, a game that was historic due to Coach Croom being the first African-American head football coach in SEC history?
"It means a lot to me because he and I have been friends a long time. And it has been a long time coming in this conference. To see him have the opportunity to be the first African-American coach in the SEC means a lot. And it especially means a lot to me after having played at Alabama and playing for a coach like Bear Bryant that the first one came from his program. I had always said that it was going to happen, it was just going to take the right place at the right time. Some people told me that I would never see it in my lifetime. Bu I knew it was going to happen because there are a lot of quality coaches out there just like him. I've very proud that he gave me the chance to be a part of his staff."
What were your thoughts as you were coming down to the locker room after the game was over?
"Well, growing up in the south and for this being the first time in the SEC, I reflected back on a lot of things. I was glad that I was able to be a part of it because it is something special. I will always take it with me as something that I won't ever forget."
Have you ever seen him show any of the pressure that is on him due to the spotlight?
"No, I never did. Sometimes he got tired of answering the question of being the first black coach in the conference. He has really prepared himself well for this job. Some guys get a job but they aren't prepared for it. But everybody that he has worked for, he has taken something from them. He has everything down on paper and he is very well organized. This is something that he has put a lot of thought into. He is not going to change or not going to waver because he has seen it and tested it. He did a good job putting this staff together. And we have one common goal and that is to be successful."
Are you glad his first game as the first African-American head football coach in the SEC is over and you guys can now just go back to being coaches coaching a game without all the hoopla that has surrounded this first game?
"At some point in time I hope the day comes when everybody will be able to look at it that way, the way the coaches and players already look at it. If you do it the way the coaches and players approach it, everything will be fine."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.