One-on-one With MSU OC Woody McCorvey

Mississippi State offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Woody McCorvey talks about his position players, the incoming freshmen quarterbacks and the offense in general, position by position.

Talk about the quarterbacks.
"I thought that Mike (Henig) had a good spring. He had his best spring since he's been here. Naturally, it should have been since this is his fourth year in the offense.

"The thing I liked the most about Mike was the progress he made in his leadership ability. When he steps in the huddle now, he commands the respect of his teammates. Even though he hasn't started a lot of games, he's been around here, starting a few games, and he knows all the guys. And he's been in the offense longer than any of them with the exception of Royce Blackledge.

"I like the way he throws the ball from the standpoint of where to go with the football. I'm not referring to his arm strength, because we know what type arm strength he has. In learning the offense and understanding the offense, he now knows where he should throw the football based on his reads and progressions.

"He also knows he has a good offensive line in front of him. And he's got some quality receivers outside and some tight ends to throw the ball to. Plus, he knows he has a good tailback behind him. I think that's why he feels confident about what he is doing.

"Another thing that is positive is he bought his own video system. So, he now has a chance to go to his room and study film.

"This should probably be his best season because everything is starting to fall in place for him."

He broke his collar bone twice last season. Is he 100% recovered?
"We have complete confidence that it is well. Dr. Linton (the MSU team doctor) feels that it is well, as does Paul Mock, our trainer."

Is there any way to help him from being injured?
"Although there may be some things we can do, he's got to be smarter himself. He needs to throw the ball away so that he can play the next series and the next ballgame. But I think he realizes that. Mike has always been an undersized guy. I know what he's going through because I was always smaller than everybody else. I wanted to make everybody think that I was just as tough as they were. I wanted people to know that I could take a hit and get up and come back. Sometimes that wasn't smart because you ended up hurt. Throwing it away is the smart thing for him and the team."

Who ended the spring backing Mike up?
"Josh Riddell is the backup coming out of spring ball. He came in and did some good things. The thing that he gives us is a guy who has played in some (college) games, even though they were junior college games. But if he has to go into a ballgame here, it will be a different type game. We don't know how he will react if he has to go into a ballgame at Auburn or against LSU. What we have to do is get him ready in practice and hope the game will take care of itself.

"Another thing he needs to do is get more acclimated to the offense. A lot of that will be up to him. And Mike can help him a lot over the course of the summer."

What about his mental and physical skills?
"He is a coach's son and has been around football for quite awhile. He doesn't have the arm strength that Mike has, but he has good ball placement. That's putting the ball where it needs to be. And he throws a catchable ball."

Didn't he play in a west coast offense in junior college? If so, did that give him a better understanding of the west coast offense that MSU uses?
"He did. It helped him some. But the biggest thing that helped him is he played two years of junior college ball. That put him ahead of the other guys that are already here."

Who ended up being the third QB coming out of the spring?
"Right now, Zack Harrington will be listed as the third guy going into fall practice. I feel confident enough in Zack that if he had to go into a ballgame as a backup, he would be able to handle it. During the practices leading up to the Ole Miss game, a lot of the offense was built around Zack and Omarr (Conner) just in case Omarr wasn't able to go. During that game he played some. We brought him in so that he could call the plays. Then, we put him at wide receiver and Anthony Dixon at quarterback."

What are your plans for your two freshman QB signees, Wes Carroll and Chris Relf?
"We are going to bring both of them in and try to accelerate where they are. Then, we will see which of the two handles the system best. Hopefully, one of those guys will be able to handle it. After two-a-days, the one who does the best will be the third guy. Then, we have the option of redshirting the other one."

Overall, what are your thoughts about the offense, starting with the offensive line?
"I like the offensive line that we have coming back. We have guys with experience.

"It was good that (offensive tackle) Mike Brown got to play the last six games last year. And we have Craig Jenkins on the other side. Both should be quality linemen. Then, we have J.D. Hamilton and Anthony Strauder and Michael Gates at guard. All those guys have enough ability to be good players.

"I'm really pleased with the way Strauder came along this spring. J.D. gives you the option to play him at guard, and, if something happens to one of the tackles, you can play him there. And Gates is another option inside.

"Royce Blackledge is back at center. And he should do an excellent job for us because he's been around here awhile and he knows the system. John Carpenter is his backup. He should emerge this year and be able to come in and help us.

"The main thing with them is to keep them healthy. If we can do that, then we should be alright."

Tight ends?
"At tight end, Eric Butler had some surgery on his toe. He has shown us that he can be a good tight end, but he just needs to be more consistent. He's had an up and down career since he's been here.

"Dezmond Sherrod is an excellent blocker and has improved his pass-catching ability. Jason Husband is another guy that does a decent job blocking and he can be a good receiver for us.

"Brandon Henderson, a young guy, is another tight end that has proven he can block and catch. We are really pleased with what he did this spring.

"Tight end and offensive line should be two quality positions for us."

What about your tailbacks?
"Anthony Dixon should emerge as one of the premier backs in this league. He should be primed to have an excellent year. He's not only a good runner, but he is also a good receiver who runs a good route.

"Behind him are Christian Ducre, who had a good spring, Arnil Stallworth, who played some for us last season, and Justin Williams, who really did a good job in the Alabama game."

"Brandon Hart had a good spring and is coming into his own. He showed flashes in the past, but he just wasn't consistent. Jeremy Jones, who was a tight end, was moved to fullback in the spring. He has the athletic ability, but just needs to learn the position."

Wide receivers?
"Tony Burks showed flashes last year. He showed last year that he can be a really good player. He just needs to gain confidence in what he's doing. And he needs to be an all around guy for us.

"Jamayel Smith should be a good player for us. Another one that doesn't get a lot of talk, but is always consistent is Lance Long. You can always count on him. Aubrey Bell is coming around. Brandon McRae is another one. We have five guys that we feel we can play. That's more than we've had since we've been here."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by email at

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