[Premium Article] Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talked to the media Tuesday about the upcoming Mississippi State-Jacksonville State game to be played in Starkville."> [Premium Article] Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talked to the media Tuesday about the upcoming Mississippi State-Jacksonville State game to be played in Starkville.">

Jackie Sherrill Talks About the JSU-MSU Game

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/coaches/football/sherrill.jpg" align="left" width="121" height="160"> [Premium Article] Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talked to the media Tuesday about the upcoming Mississippi State-Jacksonville State game to be played in Starkville.

Opening comments by Coach Sherrill.

"Everybody that has been injured is back. Hopefully, the next two days of contact we won't lose anybody."

"We had a very good week last week. We were very physical on Tuesday and Wednesday, moreso than we normally are. We backed off on Thursday because you can't do three days in a row and expect not to get anybody hurt. We were very fortunate to not lose anybody."

"This is a very unique week because you have another game (Auburn) in five days after you play this one, so you have to consider both games at one time."

"We are still very pleased with the young guys who have played. They have made plays and we will continue to work them in and play them more and more. Hopefully, we get them in the right situations where they can make plays. We will make a decision after the Auburn which guys will redshirt and which guys we will not redshirt."

Questions for Coach Sherrill.

Will Demetric Wright be a medical redshirt this year?
"He wants to be healthy. He is back on the practice field. We will see how he does. Right now, we are not going to play him. We don't have to make a decision about him until after the Auburn game."

Will Slovakia Griffith play in Demetric's place?
"He, Odell Bradley and Kevin Dockery."

Talk a little about having Kevin Fant for this game.
"Kevin is the quarterback. He is the leader. And there is a difference in catching a football from Kevin and catching a football from Kyle (York). If you ask which one throws a more catchable ball, at this time Kevin does."

Talk about Jacksonville State.
"They have two excellent running backs. They have a quarterback that has really been good. They have two good receivers. Their fullback has been a big plus in their offense. Defensively, they have a linebacker and two guys in the secondary and three defensive linemen that they feel have played really well. I believe they have five pre-season All-Conference players. Their punter was a freshman All-Conference last season. He is a really good punter. He averaged 45 yards per punt. Their kicker has done a very good job. He is second-team, pre-season All-Conference."

How is Kevin Fant's attitude since he has gotten back on the field after missing the Oregon game?
"He is fine. When he came in for the meeting, I asked him what marsh mellow break has he been on. The players laughed and he laughed."

Was there any sense that he wants to reassert himself leadership-wise?
"Well....you guys want to read a lot more into it than is there. It is not any different than driving down the highway and drive over the speed limit, pay your ticket and go on. That is what he has done. He took his lumps and will now go on. He is not crying about it. It is behind him. He will move on.

"The thing that separates Kevin is he is not going to say that it is somebody else's fault. Most people who do something almost always want to blame someone else."

Your team hasn't been inundated with great news over the last few weeks. Do you feel this team is a little down and needs a little bit of good news?
"The team will receive their boost on the field. Not taking anything away from you guys in the media, but there is a lot of people who don't read your stories. There are a lot of people who don't watch tv. I went an entire year without reading a newspaper."

What year was that (laugh)? (Jim Mashek, Sun-Herald)
"You keep writing, it may be this year, at least reading your newspaper. You guys have a job to do. We understand that. The older you are, the more you understand that. But you also have to understand that you are dealing with 18 and 19-year old kids. When you write or say something that is not correct or it is your opinion and you write it as fact, then you are damaging the young man. And you are also damaging your relationship with that young man. Don't think you can go up there and ask that young man a question after you write a story like that, because he has rights also. He has the right to talk to you or not talk to you. Kevin (Fant) is not here because we demanded that he come see you guys. Kevin is here because he wants to get it over with and go about his business. If I was Kevin, I would say to hell with you guys and say go see Coach Sherrill (laugh)."

Now that you have seen Kyle York perform for a complete game, has your opinion of him changed as far as playing him the rest of the season?
"We were going to play him in the first game no matter what. Now, we know what he can do and that helped us. That is one thing that is not an unknown now. We don't have any qualms about playing him now.

"I have always had the philosophy, 'when you play the best, that is when I want to see how you play'. There is a lot of things you can do when you aren't playing the best. When you are playing the best, that means you have to be at your best."

Talk a little about Blake Jones.
"Blake has done a great job. He always gets you in the right call, always helps the linemen. Blake understands what his pluses and minuses are, but he is a very good, intelligent player. You know that you will always be on the right people when he is in there, because he will not make a mistake."

There is a buzz among the fans about the new guys on your team. Do you as a coach feel that same kind of excitement?
"Quiet frankly, yes. That is why we are playing them. We are playing guys who can help this team. There is no question that it will help our special teams. I keep going back in the teams that I have coached or coached against and there may be a freshman who may not have played anywhere but on special teams, but his team won a championship because he made plays."

Can you prepare for this game with an eye toward the Auburn game?
"We did that last week. We worked with our players Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with our players and gave them off Friday and Saturday, but our staff worked Friday and Saturday. Once we came back this week, it was all Jacksonville State. If it's not, then you are in trouble."

The offensive line didn't really open up many holes to run through against Oregon. Why do you think that was the case?
"They had nine people on the line of scrimmage. No one else has run the ball on them. The team that beat them was Stanford and they did it because they threw the football."

Were you pleased with your offensive line as far as when they went one on one against the defensive line?
"They did some good things, especially in short yardage and goal line. They knocked them off the ball."

What is the situation with Chris McNeil? I have seen him practice at center and guard.
"We want him to play. We are trying to get him on the field and let him play."


Jacksonville State is a I-AA school, the first one MSU has played in four years. Is it difficult for the team to get up for a team like this?
"Every game is important. I see it as just another step in helping us get to the SEC Championship.We are going to get better every game and this is just another step."

So, you haven't seen any players in practice who may seem to be overlooking this team?
"No, everybody is focused. Last year, we had some problems, so no one is going to look past Jacksonville State."

Have you seen film of Jacksonville State? If so, talk about them.
"On offense, they run the option a lot. I think we just need to play fast, play hard and get to the ball as fast as possible."

What players stood out on the film when you watched Jacksonville State?
"Number 4 (running back Rondy Roger) and their quarterback (Reggie Stancil) are pretty good players. Their quarterback is about 240."

Is their quarterback hard to tackle because he is quick or because he is so big?
"He is not only big but quick for his size."

You are from Alabama, is it special to you to be playing back to back games against Alabama teams? (Jacksonville State and Auburn are the two Alabama teams.)
"It is always special to play Alabama teams and to kind of get revenge."

Talk about your first game where you had quite a few tackles? Are you getting in the mix like you want to.
"Yeah, I am playing more and more. I am going to play better every game. I watched the film and saw the things that I did wrong. The next game, I will be ready."

What things do you feel you did wrong?
"Just looking at the fundamentals, I made some little mistakes."


Did the loss to Oregon hurt or help this team?
"The loss didn't really hurt us. It just told us where we are. If we take it Saturday to Saturday, everything will work out."

With Kyle York playing in his first game, did you guys try and do a little more than you normally would if Kevin Fant had been in?
"We all told ourselves to help him out..bad ball, good ball...let's make it for him. That could have put more pressure on us."

Are you guys kind of looking at this game as the start of the season again?
"Yeah, we want to have a big offensive game this week, because we want to try and really get going next week. We want to have a big offensive outing and take it into next week. Then, hopefully, we will be clicking in all gears."

Are you a little more conscious of the NCAA rules since you have seen what Kevin had to go through with the one-game suspension?
"Yeah, you never know what might be wrong sometimes, so now I just try to stay away...stay inside away from everybody. I pretty much keep to myself now and stay at home every day and watch tv. I can't get into any trouble doing that."


You and Jason were pretty much starting at defensive end for the first time in the Oregon game. After seeing the film against Oregon, did you see some things you should have done that you didn't do?
"Yeah, we made mental mistakes. We were trying to do too much instead of doing our jobs. We hesitated a lot. Instead of firing off the ball, we were sitting back and trying to read plays. We had the linebacker instincts instead of the defensive end instincts, like trying to get to the quarterback."

If you had already played a game as defensive ends, would you have known more what to do to put more pressure on their quarterback?
"Oh yeah, we would have done a lot of things differently, split second things we could have done to get to the quarterback a lot quicker. It was our first time and first game. We will build on that. The next game we have no excuses."

What will it be like to play the first home game this weekend?
"Once you get off that bus and make that Bulldog Walk, man, your adrenalin gets pumping. I'm getting excited right now thinking about it."

Now that you've seen Kyle York play a full game, how much confidence do you have in him?
"We know we can win with him, him or Fant, we can win with them."

So, even though MSU lost, seeing how well York played was a plus for this team. You now know you have a very good backup quarterback.
"We have a nice backup quarterback."

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 swindoll@genespage.com.

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