How have the quarterbacks progressed this spring?
"We are doing some things better. We came out in the spring wanting to improve our three and five-step passing game. Omarr (Conner) has gotten better in that aspect of the game. We know, based on last year, that we can come out here and put the quarterback on the move, but that's not what we want to do all the time in this offense. A big part of this offense is the three and five-step passing game and that is really what we are working hard on improving."
To me, it looks like the defense is way ahead of the offense right now, especially on the line of scrimmage. Am I correct in that evaluation?
"A lot of people will say I'm wrong when I say this, but offense is timing. You have a lot of parts that you have in figure in. At times, while we are trying to develop our three and five-step passing games, sometimes we have some leakage, we have some pressure. We have a lot of young guys up front that we are trying to develop. If we have to - and we don't want to this year - we can always get the quarterback out on the edge like we did last year. But, we are putting more pressure on the offense to develop the three and five-step game so that we can have that as part of our offense. That way, our opponents will have to defend everything that we are trying to do in our offense."
How are the tight ends doing this spring?
"(Starting TE) Eric Butler worked hard for us last year and did some really good things for us at times, but he needs to become a complete player. He has to develop some toughness. Last year, that was the thing that hurt him even though he ended up being freshman All-SEC. He doesn't know how good he can be. Because of that, we are pushing him really hard this spring."
Are you seeing more toughness in him?
"He is getting better, but he's not where he needs to be. Some days you are not going to feel good but you have to fight through that. We don't expect any of these kids to play with injuries, but they are going to have to fight through a little pain. That's what Eric is going to have to do because sometime during a ballgame or a critical series we are going to need him in there even if he has a little pain."
As far as fullbacks, what do you like about a walk-on, Casey Rogers?
"We have to develop somebody behind (starting fullback) Bryson (Davis). We are solid with Bryson. Casey has shown that he has the mental toughness to be a good fullback. But a fullback has to not only be a good blocker but a good receiver as well. We wondered if he would be the receiver that we need coming out of the backfield. He has shown in the last couple of practices that he can catch the football. I like his effort and his attitude. During the offseason program when coach (Croom) started giving out the numbers, he was the first guy who got a number. That shows you the kind of player that he can be. We feel like, if he continues to progress during the spring, he can be a good adequate fullback."
How has Dezmond Sherrod adjusted to the move from tight end to fullback?
"It has been a little different for him because the technique is different. In the backfield you have to work hard to keep your pad level down. That has been really tough on him. But the reason we put him back there is we knew he is the kind of player who will work hard. Now, we have a guy who can either work at tight end or fullback if somebody gets hurt at either of those positions."
Last fall, Anthony Strauder was moved from defensive line to offensive line. How has he done this spring?
"He just has to develop a tough mental attitude. He is smart and picked up the system, but you have to transfer it from the classroom to the field. When you have those people moving in front of you you have to make adjustments. But there is no doubt in my mind that he has a chance to be an excellent football player for us, but he has to grow up fast."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.