MSU defeats Jacksonville State 51-13

Mississippi State players talk about their 51-13 victory over Jacksonville State.

Quarterback Kevin Fant:

Give your thoughts about what it was like to be back out on the field after the past two weeks.
"My adrenalin was flowing too much. I was so pumped up I had to calm myself down. The guys were trying to get me to calm down. It was so exciting to be back on the field with all the rest of the guys."

Do you think that had anything to do with your first couple of passes?
"I was overthrowing a little bit. It might have been (a factor)."

How do you think you preformed during the game?
"Ok. I don't really care. We won the game. It was a great home opener for us and gets us ready for our SEC opener with Auburn."

Were they tougher than expected?
"I thought that they played extremely hard, especially the guys up front. They were giving everything they had. We did good up front with our offensive linemen, but you have to give credit to Jacksonville State; they played extremely hard."

Linebacker T. J. Mawhinny:

It didn't seem the defense played as well as you hoped in the first half and then you shut them down in the second half. What were they doing in the first half?
"They were hitting us with that mid-line option. We were putting a lot of people on the line of scrimmage, but they were keying on that one middle linebacker. Sometimes I was in there and sometimes Mario (Haggan) was in there. They ran it well. They were trapping us well. They were hitting the angles right. But it was inexcusable that we gave up those 13 points the way we did. Even though we started on a short field, that is still not an excuse."

Were they tougher than you thought they would be?
"They came out playing. We knew they had good players. They had players that made you look bad. I thought that tailback was a hoss. He ran the ball good tonight. I don't why they changed their quarterback, fumble maybe. I think their backfield is damn good."

The Richard Ball touchdown from his fumble recovery was big.
"It was. It got us going a little bit. We were a little tired. It seemed like we were on the field forever. When they told us we were on the field just half the time, it didn't feel like it."

It's got to make the defense feel good seeing all the great, young offensive players, like Norwood, Turner and Wight.
"They are good true freshmen. I saw Jerious truck some linebacker late in the game. Nick had a helluva run. We played a lot of people tonight. We rotated a lot of people on defense. I think Darren (Williams) played a lot. (Michael) Gholar played. We got a lot of people some reps, which we needed. As soon as we hit SEC, we are going to have to play like that."

Did you see improvement on this team since the Oregon game?
"We didn't do a good job playing against the run, but the offense scored a lot of points, which kept us off the field a lot. When you put up 51 points, no matter who it is against, that is a lot of points. We feed off what the offense does. When they play well, we start playing better."

Does it concern you that both Oregon and Jacksonville State could run against your team?
"It isn't our personnel. We are killing ourselves over-running things."

Cornerback Slovakia Griffith:

How did it feel starting your first game?
"It felt good. I had been preparing. I wasn't really nervous. I was just ready to play."

Was it you that got beat on the touchdown pass?
"Yes sir."

What happened?
"We had a little miscue between me and Josh (Morgan) because they switched the play where the left DOG blitzed. It is usually the right DOG who blitzes. I was supposed to have the tight end, but I bumped over to take the running back. It was a mental mistake."

DOG Safety Richard Ball:

What did Coach Sherrill say to you when you received the penalty for celebrating?
"He told me to use your head. If it is a close game, you can't do stuff like that. I told him I understand and that it won't happen again."

When did you celebrate it, after you made the touchdown?
"No, when I was running in. I didn't think it was celebrating. I just looked back to see where everybody was. I just turned around and trotted into the endzone a little bit."

What did you do different in the second half. They only got 2 first downs in the second half, after getting 13 in the first.
"When we went in, Coach told us to play like these guys can play with us. We got out there and did what the coaches asked us to do. It all came together and we went out there and played like we could."

Talk about their running back.
"He ran hard every time. He never let up no matter what down it was or what the score was."

As a player, do you like this quick around for the Thursday night game?
"It is good for us in the fact that not too many of us are banged up. Auburn played a game where there were a lot of them who have nicks and bruises, so when we come back Thursday, I feel we will be healthier than them."

Did you watch the Vanderbilt-Auburn game today? If so, what were your impressions?
"Yes sir. All we really looked at was how Auburn's running back was running. He runs hard, just like number 4 (Rondy Rogers). We somewhat have an idea of what he does after looking at number 4."

This was your second game to play DOG safety. Do you feel you improved?
"Yeah, I think I improved a lot because in the Oregon game it was a learning experience. This game, I knew how to come up and stop the run and knew how to make them turn inside. But I'm not where I need to me."

Walk us through your fumble recovery for a touchdown.
"What Coach said the last play, he was watching the in-line and for me to not to over pursue. The last time I over pursed it, they cut it back. He told me to stay home; something good might happen. And it did. When Mario hit him, I was going to help him, but I saw his arm go up and the ball pop out. I just picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown. When I saw the flag, I was dreading going over to the sideline."

Did JSU come your way very much during the game?
"I think they came my way two times. They ran a post and I think a guy ran a little curl route. Korey (Banks) gets frustrated a lot because he wants to make a play. He is a competitor and I like that. I like playing the right side with him because we have good chemistry."

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 You can contact him by emailing

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