Talk about LSU's defensive front and how you guys match up with them.
"I think LSU, as far as their defensive scheme is, is similar to Auburn. They are a little bigger and a little slower than Auburn. They are more readers, hole-pluggers. But they are probably about the same as all the other fronts you face; big and strong."
Are they more like Oregon than they are Auburn?
"I think so, especially their interior and the style they play. They aren't real penetrators like Auburn was. These guys try to stay on their block until they get the hole stopped up, then they try to make a play."
Is there a revenge factor involved in this game because of last year's game?
"LSU came up here last year and put a bunch of points on us and we are surely looking to return the favor at their stadium."
During the Auburn game, the offensive line allowed 5 sacks. What was the difference in that game compared to the first two games when the pass-protection was good?
"Auburn definitely had more speed than we had seen before. I think their speed was part of it, but we also broke down with some assignments. I think, as the year goes on, we won't give up those."
Is it because you guys are still young and inexperienced?
"There is no doubt that we need to get tons of experience. None of us have had much playing time. I think everyday we are learning to play better."
Do you think the offensive line was overmatched at times or was it just inexperience?
"If you watch film you will see that we didn't get run over. I think we had some assignment breakdowns. We didn't walk up to a player and think that we can't compete with them. I don't think that is true at all."
Even though there were some breakdowns in the game, did you see improvement in the Auburn game compared to the other two games?
"Yeah, I sure did, especially as far as running the ball. (Auburn) had one of the best defenses in the SEC and we ran the ball pretty good against them in the first three quarters. I thought we moved the ball against some guys who will be playing on Sundays."
Defensive Lineman Ronald Fields
Compare LSU's running game to what you faced last week against Cadillac Williams.
"I think that Cadillac is a little better than Toefield. Cadillac likes to cut it back and do little cuts. Toefield is basically a power back. He will try to run over you."
What are the keys to stopping LSU's run game?
"Beat the offensive linemen and stay in our gaps."
Were you pleased with the way you guys stopped Cadillac last week?
"I was pleased with the first half and part of the third quarter, then we gave up in the 4th quarter. But we have to learn how to play all four quarters. Going into the 4th quarter, they had 72 rushing yards. They got almost all of their rushing yards in the 4th quarter."
Were you guys tired in the 4th quarter? Was that part of the reason you gave up?
"No, I was prepared for it. I wasn't really tired."
Did LSU recruit you out of high school?
"Yeah, they recruited me. They also recruited me in prep school."
Why did you choose MSU over LSU?
"I liked Mississippi State's defense more. I had a chance to play for Joe Lee Dunn."
The defensive sacks are really down this year. Are you disappointed in that aspect of the defensive play this year?
"I'm disappointed in the sacks, but we are improving each game. But we should have more sacks than we have."
Where have you seen the most improvement in the defense since the Oregon game?
"Stopping the run and being more physical. During the Oregon game, we didn't go three and out much. Against Auburn, we did that a lot more."
Linebacker T.J. Mawhinny
Coach Sherrill said the defensive schemes haven't been as aggressive lately. What do you guys plan on doing differently to change that?
"We have been pretty aggressive at times. I think we have been worried about the big play, but I think you will see a a little different styled defense against LSU. Mauck is a pretty good quarterback, but we watched some film on him against Virginia Tech and he gets kind of rattled. You rattle him and he will throw some bad balls. I think our goal this week will be to put some pressure on him."
After looking at game film, what are some differences in this LSU team compared to last year's team?
"Rohaim Davey and Josh Reed. That was their offense last year. They got them out of all kinds of third and longs. I think Josh Reed had like 1,800 yards receiving last year. When you lose players like those two, those are big losses. The also lost a pretty good tight end.
"They have some good backs in Toefield and Davis. They also have a good freshman running back in Joseph Addai and a good fullback."
Are you guys trying to develop a different mindset to help build up some confidence?
"I think the biggest boost is we get to play in the day. When you go in there playing at night, you are already down by 7 points with their crowd in it. Being from Louisiana, I know they get wild at night. Hopefully, that hurricane will settle them down a little bit."
You guys did a good job against the Auburn running game. Talk about your defense's improvement.
"The only thing we did bad last week were the turnovers. We were in the game until the 4th quarter. We were on the field a little bit in the first half, but that is not the offense's fault, that was our fault. Like coach said, we could have stopped them three and out. We aren't that far from being a really good ballclub. We just have to stop making stupid mistakes."
How do you stop making stupid mistakes?
"We have to get more focused. You have to have 11 people on the same page. We just have to all play together."
Center Blake Jones
A few people on my message board want to see Jerious Norwood replace Dontae Walker at tailback. Talk about how difficult it is for a true freshman to play in the SEC.
"You gain a lot with playing experience. You know a lot more about the game the more you play. A fourth year senior has been in the same system for four years. They know it better and they know what the coaches are looking for in the offense and know how it is supposed to run."
On the offensive line, there are two juniors, two sophomores and one redshirt freshman starting. Neither you or Donald Tucker, the two juniors, started more than half the games last season, so there is a lot of inexperience on the line. Because of that, do you see this offensive line getting better and better as the season progresses?
"Everybody will improve as we play together. Anytime we can get out there and play together, there is no way we will get worse playing together. We will only get better."
As a veteran, what do you tell the young guys after they have a bad game?
"You learn from what you did wrong, but there is no point in dwelling on it. There is absolutely nothing that we can do about what we did against Auburn. If you know your mistakes and try to get better, that is all you can ask of them. You just tell them we have another game this week and do better in it."
What do you think about LSU's defense compared to Oregon and Auburn?
"They probably twist and blitz more than the other teams that we have played."
What is the mood of the offensive line after the first three games of the season? Do you still feel good about yourselves?
"We still feel good about ourselves. But by no means are we satisfied. We always want to do more and do better. We can be pleased with what we have done, but definitely not satisfied."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.