Talk about the game.
"It was somewhat similar to last week where we moved the ball well, especially ran the ball well. We also ran into some roadblocks. Good teams overcome those things. That is a lesson that we are having to learn the hard way right now."
How would you grade your performance?
"I would say pretty average."
Coach Croom said he sees improvements. Are you seeing improvement?
"Yeah, we are improving. Not to the point where we can go out and win consistently. And that is unfortunate. But, the improvement is there. The one thing I am proud of is that we come back on Monday and we have a good week of practice every week. If we are not able to win on Saturday, it's not because we haven't given the effort, it's not because we haven't worked hard, it's not because we haven't paid attention to the little things that need to be improved upon. So, we are improving, we just haven't gotten over that hump."
Did you get to see Jerious run today? What did you think about his performance?
"Yeah, I watched his back get smaller as he ran. He is so talented. I don't know if he is our most explosive player on offense, but I don't know who else it could be. He is an extremely hard worker and he has a mind for the game. He has vision that not everybody has. I'm thankful that he is a part of our team, not just because he is a good football player, but because the things Coach Croom wants out of his football players, I think Jerious exemplifies that."
Last year was a struggle and this year is a struggle. What are the differences in the two years?
"There is a vision this year. I was and always will be a Jackie Sherrill fan, but we have Coach Croom now, who is a visionary. He is doing things that haven't been done here in a while. Unfortunately, for the fans and the media those things are unseen. Those things happen within the hearts and minds of the football players here. That is the kind of football player that we are trying to recruit. It's not just the guy who can put the ball in the endzone but the guy who is going to represent this university, the guy who is going to go to class, the guy who is going to be disciplined, who is going to be faithful to this football program. Beyond just putting on the jersey on Saturday, this guy is going to represent Mississippi State in all that he does. That is what Coach Croom is doing, that is the vision that he is trying to implement here."
This loss doesn't change anything then does it?
"No. This loss can't be any different than any other loss. We can't allow ourselves to become discouraged. We can't pack things up emotionally. We have to press on. The foundation that we are tying to build now through being resilient is exemplified through Coach Croom's actions and attitude. If we are going to be a resilient football team, we can't allow things like this keep us from wanting to continue to improve. Five years down the road, believe it or not, I am fully convinced that the team five years from now, will be benefiting from the hardship that we are going through now. Those that are shortsighted might not agree with me, but I believe that."
The touchdown pass to Eric Butler seems to be a go-to type play for you guys. Talk a little about that play.
"Eric does a good job of getting open, especially in tight spaces. For a tight end to be able to get open when things are gluttered, when he is going against a safety or cornerback who has probably got the speed advantage, is important. Eric and our other tight ends do an excellent job of positioning themselves, especially down in the endzone."
WR Will Prosser
This loss has to have been frustrating on the players, especially when just a few plays cost you the game?
"Yeah, it's definitely frustrating. Anytime you lose it is frustrating. I don't really have much to say about the game. We moved the ball and did the things we needed to to win, but we just didn't make plays when we needed to."
Coach Croom said he feels like the players are now buying into what he is trying to do, do you agree with that?
"I agree. One thing I can say is we are not going to quit. You lose, you come back to practice and try to get better. We are going to come back as a team and work hard, and get better every week and try to get a W."
Jerious Norwood played tremendously well today. Talk about the running game.
"I think the line, obviously, did a good job upfront. You couldn't have asked for more from the offensive line today. And he also did an excellent job finding the holes today."
Is this your most frustrating game?
Do you feel everybody on this team feels the same way as you?
LB Clarence McDougal
What were you guys doing that caused their quarterback to move around so much? And why was he so difficult to tackle?
"The D-Line played good. He is a strong kid in the upper body. We tried to get him down with the hands a little bit but he kept getting out of our arm tackles. He didn't really have much speed but he was a little shifty and really knew his way around the pocket."
Fundamentally, how are you taught to tackle a player like him? If you can't arm tackle him, are you taught to tackle him some other way?
"Coach said stay up and try to hit him in the upper body."
Why not try to tackle him down low?
"Because he has very strong legs. We tried to hit him but he is strong."
Six games in the season and you guys are still making a lot of missed tackles. Will you expand on that?
"I don't know. We just have to go back to practice and work on tackling and keep fighting. That's all we can do, just keep fighting."
Was the touchdown drive they had at the start of the second half a killer?
"No, that wasn't a killer. We came back after that and played a couple of series pretty good. The punt (return for a touchdown) really put a dagger in our heart, but we still tried to play hard. It was just one of those games where something bad happened."
Did you notice any improvements on the defensive side of the ball?
"We improved, I think. We were just a little sluggish with our tackling. We did some good things that we need to build on."
What were some of the good things that you feel you did today?
"I think we were pursuing to the ball well. We had a couple of missed assignments, but we kept fighting. We gave up one big play in the first half; that long bomb. We didn't give up many touchdowns, just a couple of field goals. We played a decent, but not great game."
Did you feel like this team was more ready to play today than maybe the other games?
"I felt like that. It was just a couple of plays we didn't capitalize on. That punt (return for a touchdown) really hurt us. Five plays in the game go our way, then we would have probably won the game."
Did you feel any hands pushing you in the back during the game?
"They were kind of holding a little bit. I don't know. It's just part of the game. We just missed a lot of tackles."
Coach Croom said he really saw the team, as a whole, buying into what he is trying to do. Did you also see that?
"Yeah, we are buying into his system. We just want to get a win. We are trying to do everything that we can to get a win. We are just coming up short on Saturday, but we will keep on fighting, I promise you that."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders sports network. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.