"This spring was more than the two big scrimmages. Spring is a good time to make your place on the team and get everybody involved and see who is going to stand out as leaders and made the plays to win. Overall, I think we had a pretty good spring game, but we need some work here or there, especially myself. I wasn't very pleased with myself at all. But we have all of two-a-days to get back together and get mentally tough. We have to be mentally tough for Oregon."
Last season you started off kind of slow, but you came on as the year progress. Do you feel you didn't carry that over to the spring?
"I feel like I had a good spring overall. Actually, I had a very good spring up until the spring game. It seems like I lacked some mental toughness during the spring game. I lost some concentration. I had one bad punt and fumbled the snap on another one. That is very unlike me. I'm not usually like that. I'm going to take that and use it during two-a-days. That really hurt deep that I had that bad of a showing. I'm just hoping that I can come out and make it up and get my teammates' confidence back."
Coach Sherrill is your position coach. What did he say about your spring?
"He said that I wasn't concentrating during the spring game. He said that I need to get back to mentally focusing. That is all the spring game is, mental toughness. He knows it is not a real game but he also knows if you can't do it during the spring game, then he can't trust you to do it during the game. That makes all the sense in the world. If I can't show up and do my job in the scrimmage, then I don't need to be out there. That is why I will use two-a-days to show him that I can do it."
Weren't you here during the first summer session?
"I was here all summer."
What are you trying to accomplish during the summer?
"In the summer, I like to be around the guys. If you go home, I have a feeling that you lose a little team unity. If you stay here with the team and work hard with the team, you build up team unity. It's like everybody says, the hardest worker in the summer usually shows up in the season. I was hoping that we would have a lot of people in for the summer. And, actually, I think we had a lot more people than normal stay here for the first session."
I've also seen a lot of the new guys come in during the second session. In fact, all but 5 or 6 have come in. That should help team unity quite a bit.
"If nothing else, it is good for the new guys because they won't have everything thrown at them during two-a-days."
What are you seeing different about this team than last year's team?
"Last year, it seemed like we weren't quite together as a team. Everything wasn't clicking, although we were very close. We were very close in a lot of games to turning that season into a winning season. It wasn't just one person. It was the entire team that didn't do it last year.
"It seems to me, since we have been on the low side, we know what it is like to be down. This year, hopefully, we will take that and come together as a team and do like we did in 1998."
What are you hoping to achieve individually this season?
"This season I'm hoping I get a chance to show what I can do. I hope I come through and show the guys that I can play ball. Hopefully, I can get everybody pumped up on the special teams. Like coach Sherrill says, special teams, especially the punt team, are very important. If you don't have a great punting game that establishes great field position, it will hurt you during the game."
I know this will be your third year at State. I get the feeling you are attempting to be a leader.
"Well, maybe not the standout leader, but I believe the different parts of a team, offense, defense, special teams, need somebody to step forward and give everybody else confidence. The number one spot on the punting team is obviously the punter. It starts with me. If I don't have confidence in myself and the snapper doesn't have confidence, then everything will go downhill from there."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at email@example.com.