[Premium Article] The Mississippi State players talk about the 42-14 loss to Auburn."> [Premium Article] The Mississippi State players talk about the 42-14 loss to Auburn.">

MSU Players Talk about the MSU-Auburn Game

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/01players/football/2003/mawhinneytj.jpg" align="left" width="120" height="158"> [Premium Article] The Mississippi State players talk about the 42-14 loss to Auburn.

Linebacker T. J. Mawhinny.

Do you feel like you played well against the run tonight?
"We did at time, but then we gave up a long run. We had them two or three times 3rd and 15 and they got a touchdown and another touchdown on a 3rd and 10 to put it up 14-7."

You had them 3rd down and deep in their territory and Cobb does a bootleg and really sales that play and the tight end slips loose for a 30 yard gainer?
"Yeah, that was a good play. They caught us off guard. We weren't locked up with their tight end. They made plays when they needed to and we didn't. That is the bottom line."

What do you do to correct the mistakes?
"It is all mental. It is ignorant plays. I had a play where I jumped offsides when it was 3rd and 15 and I made it 3rd and 10. We had another one where it was 3rd and 7 and we jump offsides to make it 3rd and short.

"We aren't going to give up. We have a long season left."

Talk about your upcoming game against LSU.
"LSU is good. They have the same type team Auburn has. They run the football and they have a running back who may be the best in the SEC. We know what they are going to do. We have to stop the run. You can't beat any team in the SEC if you don't stop the run. We have a couple of tough weeks ahead of us."


Defensive end Jason Clark.

Talk about the mistakes this team has made so far.
"All through the season we have made mistakes. Mental mistakes will hurt you real bad. I tried to tell the guys don't get your heads down."

Talk about your play tonight. I remember one play in particular where you tackled Carnell Williams behind the line of scrimmage.
"Coach Dunn basically told me all week long that I would do a lot of blitzing and that he had a perfect plan for us. He called a spike where I went straight through. They tried to cut me but he didn't reach me in time. I saw him hand the ball off and my eyes got big when I saw number 24 (Carnell Williams). I knew I had to wrap him up."

Talk about Williams. Also compare him to Oregon's Onterrio Smith?
"He is a quick and elusive back. (Comparing him to Smith) I say they are two different runners. Onterrio is quick, fast and a strong runner. (Williams) is more like a little worm. He is so slippery, he slips right out of your hands. He slipped right out of my hands a couple of times tonight. But they are both good backs."

Auburn got most of their rushing yards and touchdowns after you were tired. [Auburn had 75 rushing yards in the first half and 132 in the second half. Of the 132, 129 were in the 4th quarter. Three of their six touchdowns were in the 4th quarter.-Gene]
"Yeah, when the turnovers happen deep into our zone, we just have to get better when a sudden change occurs. We know our offense will make mistakes. All offenses make some mistakes. We just have to come out and press on."

After Auburn went up 21-7, what did they try to do offensively?
"They came back and tried to run the ball on us. They had gotten up by two touchdowns with passing. Mainly, they were going to try and come back and run with their main guy, Carnell (Williams)."

How frustrating is it to see your team make big plays only to see a turnover negate them?
"It gets pretty frustrating. As an example, when Kahlil (Nash) made that touchdown only to see them call it back, it was very frustrating. We could have gone up and the ballgame could have been totally different. We just have to keep our self-control. I learned that and the young guys have to learn it."

Do you have to forget about the mental mistakes and build on the positive things that you did tonight?
"Exactly. You aren't going to make every play. You just have to line up and keep going at it."

How comfortable did you feel at defensive end tonight? This seemed to be your best game so far.
"I felt comfortable out there. Coach Dun made the move in the spring. I like it out there. With the blitzes, he felt with TJ, Mario and me, we could blitz and hopefully get free."

Do you feel like this was the best the defense has played this year, at least up until the 4th quarter when you seem to get tired?
"I think we were up and down. I think we played extremely well against a good back. I think, once we get everybody on the same page, it is going to be great."

Talk about having two extra days to prepare for LSU.
"We are going to go at it tomorrow. We don't need any off days. We can't let one game be our downfall. We have 9 more games left. We look forward to going toe to toe with LSU. Auburn is in the past now."


Running back Jerious Norwood.

Talk about the offense.
"Most people think our offense is not that good and the defense is the better part of the team. The offensive side of the team will get better and make big plays."

They have lined you up at slotback a lot. Do you enjoy playing receiver?
"Yes sir. I feel like if a guy tries to cover me one on one, I have a chance to beat him."

Go through the pass play where you ran for 31 yards.
"That was a little option. When they called the play I knew it was me. I said ok. I had been waiting to get into the game all night long. When I got in the game I did the best I could and get what I could get out of it."

Was it frustrating to get close to the goal line and not score?
"I wasn't frustrated, but I did want to score that touchdown."

Did MSU fans get a glimpse of the Jerious Norwood that so many raved about when you were in high school?
"Yeah, I felt it was a pretty good run. I should have scored, but I don't know what happened (laugh)."


Wide receiver Ray Ray Bivines.

A lot of you young guys are getting a chance to play. Talk about what you expect from this offense, not just now, but in the future.
"In the future I think we are going to do pretty good. The young guys are stepping on the field and not redshirting."

It seemed like every part of the team made mistakes. What is your idea as to why you guys made so many mistakes in the third game of the season?
"I think it is partly due to not executing well all the time. It just didn't go our way tonight."

What was the mood of the team in the locker room after the game?
"Everybody is trying to hang in there. We took it hard, but they are keeping their heads up."


Fullback Darnell Jones.

Were the mistakes part of the reason you lost the game?
"That's all it was, our mistakes. Six turnovers goes a long way. We couldn't have beaten Jacksonville State with six turnovers. Without those mistakes, it's a whole different ballgame."

Are they correctable mistakes?
"Yeah, they are correctable. When you play hard, you can always correct your mistakes."

Are you surprised with the final score?
"I didn't think they could put up that many points. But it seemed like near the end we kind of started giving up a little bit and our heads went down a little bit. They didn't let up and we gave up a little."

How hard will it be to get your heads back up?
"It won't be hard. Everybody has a good attitude. We all see the progression we are making on the field. Besides the turnovers, everybody knows we were having a good game."

Talk about the running game. You still seem to not be able to really get it going?
"Basically, I think our front five is still fairly young. They don't have that much playing experience. Plus, as Fant continues to play well, that will help as well."

What positives did you see in this game?
"The young guys. You saw when they put the young guys in the game, they made plays. We know we have depth. If someone had gone down tonight, someone else could have stepped up and played.

"We also moved the ball well on them all game long. The turnovers stopped us. We just have to limit our own mistakes."

What will you guys do as players to try and eliminate the mistakes?
"We will have to learn from this game and then put it behind us. We have to look forward and not behind us."


Quarterback Kevin Fant.

How bad did the turnovers hurt you?
"You can say turnovers kill you. When you play a good football team like Auburn, you can't turn the ball over, especially when you give them good field position. They are going to capitalize on it."

You went into the halftime 21-7 instead of 14-7. What did you talk about in the locker room?
"We knew we were still in the game and knew we had to come out strong. Everybody worked hard, but mental mistakes got us. You can't do that against a good football team."

What happened when you fumbled as you were running down the field? Were you trying to do a little too much?
"I guess. I didn't secure the ball well enough and the guy came up from behind me and got the ball out (of my hands). He did a good job, but it was my fault for not securing the ball." [Fant fumbled at the Auburn 39-yard line after running for 7 yards on first and 10.-Gene]

There were a lot of mistakes tonight. Are you kind of shocked the team is still making these kinds of mistakes?
"It was a tough game. It is hard to go out there and play physical. It gets to you."

Coach Sherrill said on third and 2 Jerious (Norwood) ran a wrong route. Were the players executing well enough to run the offense?
"I wouldn't say overall it was us making mistakes. I think we were getting whipped. When we got the ball and didn't make our mistakes, we moved the football on them. But when we got across the field like we did, the fumble hurt us and the punt killed us. Mistakes like that you can't do that against Auburn." [On three of MSU's turnovers, they had driven the ball 30 yards on 5 plays, 41 yards on 6 plays and 30 yards on 2 plays.-Gene]

What are some of the positives that you take from this game?
"We moved the ball. It's not like we got dominated. We moved the ball but a lot of times we killed ourselves. We've just got to take our mistakes away and then we can compete."

What was Auburn's defense doing to try and take your game away?
"They weren't doing anything that we hadn't seen. They just whipped us up front. They never did come out with anything new. They just played physical, especially the front four. They played tough."

Even though you made turnovers, you made plays and guys broke runs and broke tackles. What does that say about the rest of the season?
"It is positive. You take away our mistakes and we can move the football against any team."

Does it surprise you that you don't have a run game? Are you going to get better during the season?
"I think so. We are going to get better throughout the season. You have to. We are just going to take this next week and work on things like going back to the basics."

You said you were whipped up front. Is that why you couldn't run the ball?
"I think their front line and linebackers played hard. Coming into this game we knew the battle would be up front. I think we can be more dominate than we are as a team, offensively anyway. We have to work together and take out the mistakes."

You have an offensive line that has a lot of young guys who haven't played much together. Is that a lot of the problem?
"I wouldn't say that. We just have to get back to physical football. That is what Mississippi State is. We just have to get nasty."


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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