Oregon 36, Mississippi State 13

[Premium Article] Quotes from the Mississippi State - Oregon game.

Coach Sherrill:

"(Oregon quarterback Jason) Fife is a good football player. He was probably the best offensive player out there. They are going to win a lot of games with him. He is very poised. He called the right plays and got the ball to the right people."

"They do a good job in the kicking game. The Pac-10 is very lax in a lot of (kicking) rules. We knew that coming in. They took advantage of that. We should have."

"The only way you are going to beat Oregon is to throw and catch. We threw it well but didn't catch it very well."

"During the first part of the game, they had run 35 plays to our 10. In those 10 plays, 5 were penalties. We dug ourselves in a hole the first quarter of the game. Because of that, it was difficult to come back."

"I was very pleased with (quarterback) Kyle York. He threw some passes that were outstanding. The touchdown pass he threw was a good one."

"We played a lot of people (66). The guys who played who were true freshmen played very well."

"I thought that (punter) Jared Cook kicked the ball very well. (Kicker) Brent Smith kicked off very well."

"The good thing is our kids never quit. We had the opportunity to score two more times but we didn't."


Was your game plan altered due to leaving Kevin (Fant) at home?
"It wasn't. We still had the same game plan but Kyle (York) is not Kevin (Fant) as is very evident. But Kyle did a good job. Kyle did what he could to help us win, but we didn't do a very good job up front offensively in the running game. Of course, they hasn't been anyone who could run the football on Oregon. Stanford beat them (last year) because they threw the football and they beat them in the kicking game."

Talk a little about Fife.
"He is a really good player. Mike (Bellotti) got lucky keeping that kid happy while not playing him. It is very difficult keeping a kid with that talent around while not playing him."

What were you not doing on defense that you felt you needed to do to stop them?
"They threw the three post patterns for touchdowns. We didn't do a very good job of covering them. And in the first drive we had the three penalties. One was a 15-yarder. That was big. They also had 4 third downs and 1 forth down. They made 4 of the 5. If you can't stop people on third down, you are not going to win."

Michael Gholar blocked one field goal.
"We are going to block a lot of field goals if we can get a push. They are going to have to kick it very high."

Was it the offensive line or the running backs that caused you to not be able to run the ball?
"It was Oregon's defense. No one has been able to run the ball on Oregon for two years. They played some pretty good teams. Colorado couldn't run against them in the bowl game."

You mentioned the Pac-10 is very lax. Exactly what rules are they lax on?
"In the kicking game they are lax. They are illegal on their alignment on field goals and extra points. They are very lax on holding on punt returns. We should have done the same thing as they did."

What pleased you the most about Kyle York's play?
"He was very poised. He threw the ball well, but we dropped a bunch of balls."

How pleased were you with your defense after the first quarter? (Oregon has 133 yards in first quarter and 234 in the last three quarters.-Gene)
"They played hard. I thought we played the run very well, but didn't play the pass well. The one thing we did not do defensively was put pressure on the quarterback. But that is Oregon's offense. They are going to play max protect. They are going to protect their quarterback and let their receivers work."


MSU Defensive Coordinator Joe Lee Dunn:

What positives did you see in your defense?
"I thought we did pretty well defensing their running back. He wasn't as impressive as their quarterback. Their quarterback was very impressive today. He was really good and sure of himself and did a lot of good things with the football. It was just one of those days where it wasn't meant to be. That seventeen play drive kind of set the tone. And we got about three or four penalties during that drive. I think we will learn from this experience and be pretty good before it is over with."

Do you think it would have been better to have started off playing a team that couldn't do so many things with the football?
"No, I think it was better for us to play someone as good as these guys are. I think we will learn from this experience. Like I said last year, if we had been able to play BYU the second ballgame we would have learned more about our team. You have to play good folks to find out what you can and cannot do."

You wanted to put pressure on Fife.
"I don't think we pressured him at all. That was one of the keys to the game. We rarely got to him. And when we did get to him, he kind of juked us."

Talk about the effort of your players.
"I think they played hard. They never gave up. (Oregon) probably took over inside our 50 yard line 10 times (Actual number was 6. 17 of their points were scored during those 6 drives. MSU did not have a single drive start in Oregon territory.-Gene). It is difficult to play on a short field so much."

How good do you think Oregon is?
"I think they are real good. I've thought that since I started watching them in February or March. Their offense is super excellent. They will not miss a beat with him in there because he does really good things. He has a great nature about him and he doesn't seem to let anything bother him. I don't think they will have to worry about another quarterback for a couple of years. But he gets to come to our place next year. We look forward to that."

You get to see film of him for next year's game.
"Yeah, but he can really throw that ball. He could zip it. You could tell down on the field that the velocity of his passes was awesome."

Why was it so difficult for your guys to put pressure on him?
"They throw a lot of quick stuff and they also block a lot of folks. They have a good system. What people don't realize is since Bellotti has been here, they have scored over 30 points 75 times. It doesn't matter who is running their system, they are going to pile up the points."

Talk about Richard Ball and Korey Banks' play.
"He played really good. He made some good tackles and good breakups. Korey Banks played really great to start with. He was really good, too."

You played Ball at DOG safety. Do you think you have found a position for him?
"Yeah, I think so. I think he knows that is the position for him."


Quarterback Kyle York:

When did you know you were going to start this game?
"I found out I was going to start when we got on the phone Thursday."

Several people told me you appeared to be very calm. Were you calm?
"I was kind of like a duck on water. I wanted to remain calm on the outside for the team's attitude. I think I did that. On the inside, I was very anxious. By the time the game started, I has gone through so many anxious moments I almost immediately got into a comfort zone. When I started the game, I felt like the Lord was watching over me and I was confident enough to go out and do some good things."

There has been a lot of talk about the noise level in Autzen Stadium. To me it never appeared to be a factor in the game. Was it a factor?
"It wasn't a factor. I think the team handled it well. We didn't get any onside penalties. We also didn't make a whole lot of mechanical mistakes. I fumbled two snaps but I don't attribute that to the crowd noise. It was just a mistake on my part."

Do you think you progressed as the game went on?
"I felt more comfortable at the end of each half. At the end of the first half, we had that really good drive. I felt really comfortable throwing the ball. The third quarter and about half the fourth quarter I got out of my comfort zone and I struggled and didn't really throw the ball that well."

Why do you think you didn't feel comfortable?
"I don't really know. Oregon's defense dropped into a lot of coverage. It wasn't that I didn't understand it, but subconsciously put more pressure on myself to make plays when I should have been working on the concept of what we are trying to do in our offense."

It appeared you never really got a lot of pressure from Oregon.
"The offensive line played really well. Like I said earlier, Oregon got into a coverage defense for the majority of the game. Because of that, they didn't blitz as much as we expected. That took a little pressure off our offensive line."

Our running game was almost non-existent. Was it because they were beating our line or because they had so many guys on the line of scrimmage?
"Oregon's main focus is to defense the run. We saw from watching film they stack guys in the box to stop the run. They challenge their opponents to throw the ball. They put their corners out their on an island."

How did this game help you?
"There were position things that I can take from this. I got thrown in the fire in this game, but it helped me grow up fast. These last three days have my maturity and growth in leadership. I also now think I have a better feel for a live action game and a big crowd. I wasn't overwhelmed at all."


Cornerback Korey Banks:

Is it good for this team to have a week off after this game so they can correct all that didn't work?
"No, I feel sick. I don't want to take a week off. I am tired of losing. That is like 3-9 now. I am 3 and 9 in my college career. That hurts."

Did Oregon surprise you at all with what they did?
"If you know football, you can stay with them. We just made a couple of big mistakes when you look back at the game. There were three or four plays where, if we don't make mistakes, it would have been a closer game."


Center Blake Jones:

It looked like they just lined up and tried to stop the run.
"They did what we expected them to do. As for as our pass protection, I thought was really good the entire game. We just couldn't get the run going. We will be ok."

Were there just more bodies than you had blockers? "Yeah, they had eight in the box a lot of times. Sometimes, they bought their safeties down and played two linebackers in between the safeties. Sometimes, we didn't get enough movement or we missed one of the four they brought up. It is probably not as bad as it looked. It was probably just a lot of people doing the right thing and a little bit of a mess up."

It looked like you had some success when you started attacking the corners with the tailbacks.
"Yeah, their outside linebackers were playing inside quite a bit. That was helping them on the run. When we could get them on the corner, it seemed to work good. We just couldn't keep it going."

There was a lot of talk about the crowd noise and atmosphere here, but that didn't really didn't seem to bother you guys.
"It was a great atmosphere for football, but it's not a Florida, LSU or South Carolina. It was a good crowd, but it didn't compare to some of the things we have seen in the past."


Center/Guard Chris McNeil:

Talk about your performance during your first game.
"Overall, at the center position, I did ok. When I first got out there, I was very nervous. But that is just natural. I made all of my assignments. At left guard, it was just this week that I started working there. I am going to have to work more on my techniques. Overall, I thought my play was pretty good."

The offense played a lot of freshmen about a great team. You have to feel really good about that.
"Oh yeah, it is good for the young guys like me to get their first game under their belt. I won't be as nervous coming in the next game. I will now know what to expect about the speed of the game. In practice, everything is fast, but when you come out here, it is like an entirely new game."


Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti:

"That is our goal and our motto every game, to run the ball and to stop the run, and I think we did that. Our line of scrimmage, both offensive line and defensive line did an excellent job today."

"I did not expect it to be an easy game. I think that's a good football team with good athleticism that we played very well. We executed well and probably took them out of some things they wanted to do. I'm sure if they had their quarterback, that would have made a huge difference."


Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.


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