Ole Miss deserved to win.
"First, let me say congratulations to David (Cutcliffe) and his team. They played hard and they definitely played well enough to win. And they deserved to win. They made the plays, we didn't."
Q&A WITH COACH CROOM Do you think that your team came out with a lack of emotion?
"I didn't think they were any different than they normally are. I don't put a whole lot of stock in all that rah-rah stuff. You line up, you go out there and you play hard and you play well and you take pride in what you do."
What did you expect out of your team going into this game?
"We didn't control the line of scrimmage, especially the offensive line. That's something that we have done well. Really, since the Vanderbilt game, we haven't played any defense that has shut us down up front in the running game, but they were able to."
Was this game more like your team played the first six game than the last four?
"No, I don't think that. The first six games we didn't even simulate a team. If it had been like the first six games, it would have been 50 to nothing."
Did Ole Miss do anything that you weren't expecting?
"No, not at all, not at all. They lined up and did exactly what we expected them to do. From a scheme standpoint, alignment and assignment, it didn't cause any problems. It was exactly like we saw against Arkansas last week, exactly like it. It was just that they lined up and whipped us."
What were they doing to get your running game slowed down?
"They were whipping us one on one. That number 68 just dominated our line of scrimmage."
How surprised were you that they could do that to your running game?
"I was very surprised. One thing I thought we could do was run the football and do a good job with our play-action and movement. They didn't do anything different. They just whipped us up front. That's what the game came down to. We couldn't run it, couldn't throw it, couldn't protect on the throw. And when we did protect on the throw, we didn't make catches."
How tired do you think your defense was in the 4th quarter?
"They should have been very tired. They were still fighting, though. I give them that."
Four turnovers created by your defense but nothing to show for it but 3 points. Talk about that.
"They gave us opportunities early and gave them to us in the third quarter, but, offensively, we didn't get anything done at all. We should have had at least 12 points from the turnovers. For the first half, we didn't even show up. Fred Reid makes a play to get us in position to make something happen and we didn't make any more plays one on one."
How much did losing starting safety Slovakia Griffith hurt you?
"It definitely hurt us. His leadership. His experience. All of that went out and that hurt us. But, defensively, we came up with turnovers. The worse part of the defense was we let them have a 99 yard drive."
What kind of problems did Ole Miss QB Robert Lane present?
"It just came down to he ran better than we tackled. He is not elusive. He is just a big guy that runs hard."
What do you think you accomplished your first season?
"I think we changed an attitude. I feel better about our guys understanding what is expected of them on and off the field. That is a starting point. But we still have a long way to go. We still have to work on our discipline as far as assignments, as far as doing the little things right all the time. Some of our guys still need to build the confidence where they know how to win and what it takes to be a winner. Some of our young guys still have to grow up. There is still a question in my mind about some of them having that total commitment to winning. But we will find that out in the off-season program. And there are some areas that we have to improve in from a talent standpoint. I've said that all season. We have to get out and recruit and improve our talent level."
What kind of strides do you expect to make next year and how do you expect to accomplish those strides?
"As coaches, we have to improve out talent level. As players, we have to improve our focus and discipline. And we have to have some guys grow up and mature and take on more of a leadership role and demand more as far as exactness from each other."
When do you start recruiting?
"In the morning. I'll be gone every day that I can possibly recruit. If I can be out, I'll be out. This recruiting year is critical to our future success."
What kind of impression do you think you have made this first year on players that you are about to recruit?
"We'll soon find that out won't we?"
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.