Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talked to the media Tuesday about the upcoming Mississippi State-Auburn game to be played in Starkville."> Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talked to the media Tuesday about the upcoming Mississippi State-Auburn game to be played in Starkville.">

Jackie Sherrill Talks About the Auburn-MSU Game

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

Opening comments by Coach Sherrill.

"We are asking our people to wear Maroon Thursday night. I guess the best thing to call it is Maroon Out, where everybody will show up and wear Maroon out to the game."

"We played Saturday night. On Sunday, when we came back to meet and get ready for Auburn, we went out and practiced as hard as you would normally do on a Monday."

"I think, without a doubt, when you look at Auburn, you have to start with their kicking game. They have done a tremendous job of keeping field position by Duval being able to swap ends of the field. Few kickoffs are returned because he has the ability to kick it out. Last year, he won the game against us in the last few seconds with a field goal kicked into the wind."

"They have settled on their quarterback. There is no question that Daniel Cobb has given them some solid play. They are not asking their quarterback to be the person that beats you. They are leaving that up to the running backs. Carnell Williams is one that is doing a great job running the football. He is a guy that at any time can go 60 to 70 yards (for a touchdown), so you have to be able to tackle him."

"Their receivers, for the most part, are young."

"They have been very, very productive in their punt return game." [They are averaging 12.8 yards per punt return.-Gene]

"Defensively, they are very typical up front where they have good size and speed. But they have exceptional speed at linebacker, because they have taken some receivers and put them at linebacker. Karlos Dansby was a receiver who they put at linebacker."

"Secondary-wise, they will play a combination of zone and man, but basically zone."

"The game will be very interesting because the new commissioner and Bobby Gaston will be here. It is going to be interesting to see how they interpret the new (cowbell penalty) rule. We will find out very quickly in the game what the referees will or will not do. If it makes it past the first couple of series, then he won't throw a flag. You are asking an official to do things that aren't in his job description. There is no way, if you are doing your job on the field, you can be listening (to what is happening) off the field. You can't do both jobs. I've giving the referee a pair of earplugs before the game and telling him to concentrate on the field and not in the stands. (Laugh)"

"When you are at home you can dress out 80, but on the road you can only dress 70. That cuts out some young kids who might be involved on your special teams. That is why it is important to have a lot of home games."

Questions for Coach Sherrill.

Why do you guys normally match up so well with Auburn?
"We have had some pretty good players. Out of the 11 years I have been here, we have won 6 and they have won 5."

How would you compare Carnell Williams to Onterrio Smith?
"Carnell is more elusive and probably has the same speed. Carnell is very hard to get your hands on. If you get your hands on him, it is hard to keep him. And he is not a small back. He is 205 pounds, so he is a guy who has some strength, but he also has more east-west elusiveness than Onterrio."

Have you been surprised with Lennie Day's play this year?
"No, Lennie was a very talented young man coming out of high school. He played linebacker-tight end in high school. He was a young man who, when he first got here, we thought would be a linebacker, but he got bigger and bigger. So, we put him (on the line). He has been playing well.

"(Noseguard) Ronald Fields has played very well, too. We are going to have to play very well. We played four down line, two down linemen and two outside defensive ends."

How important is Justin Griffith to your offense?
"A great deal. Justin has gotten better. As a matter of fact, he is doing some things this year that he didn't do his first three years because he is a lot more physical. He has good hands and is a very good leader on this football team."

How important is this game?
"Every game is important in the West. You never know if the game is going to be the one that wins of loses (the Western Division)."

Talk about Chris McNeil's performance.
"He played a lot of plays. He played both guards and center. He is really a good, good football player. There is no question that we have some true freshmen and (redshirt) freshmen who should made the (Freshman) All-SEC and All-American teams. We have two (freshmen) linemen, Chris and Richard Burch, who should be All-SEC and one of them should be an All-American."

What is the status of offensive linemen Donald Tucker and Michael Allen?
"Both will play. Questionables that we have are (Michael) Gholar and Rico Bennett. Both of those guys ave very questionable as to whether they will play. The other one that is very questionable is Brett Morgan. Gholar has a hamstring injury. Bennett has a turf toe and Brett has a concussion."

Talk a little about walkon kicker Brent Smith.
"He is a very talented young man. He and John Michael (Marlin) have great competition every day in practice. He has the ability to kick the ball out on kickoffs. He also has the ability to do different things with the football on kickoffs. You can tell he has played a lot of soccer growing up. He is a very good athlete."

Has John Michael Marlin lost his confidence?
"No, he hit the grown with his toe (on the extra point attempt). It was technique and timing moreso than anything else. He kicked better than he has ever kicked (Monday) in practice. He is a much better kicker today than he was last year. We are fortunate to have two kickers who are ok. That is probably what is going to make both of them better."

When will (junior college transfer cornerback) Odell Bradley play in a game?
"Hopefully, he is healthy and ready to play this week. He is back on the practice field."

Where did you improve in this past week's game?
"I thought we improved a lot in our kicking game. I thought the offensive linemen really improved. We didn't give up but one sack, but that was actually the quarterback's sack. He should have gotten rid of the ball. We had a lot of young players play. Kevin (Fant) started out 0 for 5, but ended up 15 of 21."

Talk about some of the guys that really stood out after watching the film.
"(True freshman offensive tackle) Richard Burch played very well. The same thing can be said about Chris (McNeil). I thought the two young running backs (Norwood and Turner) played well as did the two young receivers (Milons and Wright)."

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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