A Q&A With Senior Center Chris McNeil

Mississippi State senior center Chris McNeil talked about the improvement of this year's team, the win against Murray State and playing Auburn this Saturday.

How did the victory over Murray State help your team?
"The win was a big confidence builder, especially for the younger guys. With the younger guys, it was big for them to come out and get that first win. We did make some mental mistakes, but that's expected in the first game of the season."

Last year, Coach Croom, after MSU lost to Auburn, said MSU didn't have the talent to compete against the best teams in the SEC. Did you also think that was the case?
"I knew it in the back of my head. Last year, we couldn't do anything about it, but play with with effort and try to build team unity. This year, it's a different story. I think a lot of people have matured and I think we are mentally tougher. We are a lot more sound in what we are doing and we have more talent."

After soundly defeating Murray State, is there is a chance your team might get a little overconfident?
"I think we learned a lot since last year. I don't think this squad is going to get overconfident because we are more mature. We've learned the only way to win ballgames around here is the old fashion way of hard work."

Even though your team has improved, you are still a fairly big underdog to Auburn. Does that bother you?
"I'm not one of these guys who sits around and thinks about us being an underdog. I have full confidence in our team and believe we can beat anybody that we put our minds to beating. We are stronger and have several more (offensive) weapons."

Will Auburn losing to Georgia Tech at home last weekend hurt or help your team's chances to win?
"It doesn't matter whether they did or didn't defeat Georgia Tech. You just line up and play. It's going to be our squad against their squad when Saturday comes around."

What impresses you about Auburn's defense?
"Their defensive line and linebackers are pretty fast. In fact, their defense is probably one of the fastest that we will play the entire year. It's going to be a pretty good challenge for us. I'm excited to play them."

You played them at home last year. Now, you play them on the road. What are your thoughts about that?
"It's a good atmosphere at Auburn. They have a very loud stadium. It's been a pretty enjoyable experience. Really, there will be a great atmosphere anywhere you go in the SEC. That's one of the pluses of playing in such a good conference."

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 swindoll@genespage.com.

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