Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talked about the upcoming Mississippi State at LSU football game."> Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talked about the upcoming Mississippi State at LSU football game.">

Jackie Sherrill Talks About the MSU at LSU 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 about the upcoming Mississippi State at LSU football game.

Opening comments by Coach Sherrill.

"Dontae Walker has not been on the practice field. He has a knee (injury) and shoulder (injury). Derrick Crockett has a quad (injury). It is very doubtful that Crockett will be ready to play. We won't know about Dontae until later in the week. We still have some other bumps and bruises, but they will be ready to play."

"The last time we were (in Baton Rouge) I thought it was the loudest stadium in the league. Hopefully, playing in the morning we will catch them where they won't have a full house."

[Since 1990, LSU is 37-22 at night and 5-11 during the day when playing in Tiger Stadium.-Gene]

"Their team is very similar to last year's team. The scheme is basically the same. Offensively, they lost a great player in their quarterback. They still have their same running backs and same offensive linemen. Defensively, they still have linebackers that can run. Their return game is excellent. They had a touchdown called back against Virginia Tech. They have also had other long runs in their return game. Domanick Davis gets up field very quickly."

[Davis has had two punt returns called back this year, an 81-yarder against Virginia Tech and an 82-yarder called back against The Citadel. Through three games, Davis is averaging 167.7 all-purpose yards per game, tops in the SEC and 12th in the nation.-Gene]

"They have had some problems in their kicking game. They have two punters (Donnie Jones and John Corbello). Against Virginia Tech, they had a punt blocked in the endzone."

"They will put speed on the field. They have a receiver that is very similar to Josh Reed, although Reed was a great, great receiver. They still have Jerel Myers and Michael Clayton. Clayton is probably their leading receiver. They put him in different places, but they put him where he can create some mis-matches."

[Clayton has caught 17 passes for 195 yards and 2 touchdowns. Myers has caught 2 for 29 yards.-Gene]

"We will leave (for Baton Rouge) Friday night."

Questions for Coach Sherrill.

Are you guys watching the weather for the upcoming game?
"We don't have any control over that. The only thing that would keep you from playing is if you have the tornadoes that spun off of (the hurricane) or if you have lightning. Wind and rain won't keep you from playing."

How is Norwood's ankle?
"Good. He practiced (Monday). We had a very good practice yesterday."

When did Norwood hurt his ankle during the Auburn game?
"I don't know. You (normally) wouldn't know until after a game."

Any thoughts about who will start at tailback if Dontae can't?
"We will start Fred (Reid)."

How did Jason Clark play during the Auburn game?
"He played very well. Jason is probably the most consistent player up front. Jason has really done a great job not only on the field but off the field. He has really turned into a very good team player. He is good for the whole football team."

Any reason why LSU has been one team that is difficult for MSU to beat the past few years?
"LSU has been a good football team. I think LSU has been tough on a lot of people."

How does their running game compare to Auburn's?
"They are very similar to Auburn. They will play some tight ends and move them. They will try to leverage you. They will also put 2 or 3 wide outs in, along with their tight ends."

Talk about T.J. Mawhinny's play this year.
"T.J. has played well. One thing about him is he can tackle and he gets to the football. We are fortunate to have two linebackers that are very solid players."

How close is your team to being where you thought it would be at this time?
"You knew it was going to be a hard battle at Oregon. You should beat Jacksonville State. The Auburn game was (determined) by who did the things up front. There are a lot of things I am very pleased with about this football team. Are we where we will be when the end of the year gets here? No, because we have a lot of young players that will make plays that will make a difference in a ball game. You just have to make sure they are in there at the right time. Everybody wants a (great young) player to play, but if you go back to the ones who stood out the most in this league, Hershel Walker or Bo Jackson, and see what was asked of them, you would see that they were taking a sweep right or left or run off tackle. They didn't ask them to understand all the pass protections. You try to put a player in to be successful. That is the same thing with (true freshman offensive tackle) Richard Burch, we are trying to put him in there so that he can be successful rather than seeing him take a step forward and two steps backward."

Do you think the defensive line played better during the Auburn game?
"They played a lot better. We played probably two and a half quarters like we can play. We didn't play (well) in the 4th quarter. But for two and a half quarters, we played good enough to win, but it takes four quarters to win, not two and a half."

With so many turnovers during the Auburn game, do you feel like you just had a run of bad luck?
"No, Kevin (Fant) should have put the ball away and the other one we shouldn't have given up the sack. Both of those should not have happened. The only one that (might have been luck) was the one (on the punt) where the ball might have bounced forward instead of backward. But you still should have gotten away from it."

Talk about the fans at LSU.
"Their fans do a great job of helping them play at home. They really reward good play, probably moreso than any stadium in this league."

What do you make of the fans getting excited and hollering to put the freshman in the game?
"That's why they are fans. There is nothing wrong with that at all."

I'm asking about Nick Turner and Jerious Norwood. How far into their freshman year do you feel they need to be before you you can put them out on the field more?
"We are putting them out there more every game. You devise ways to put them out there in more positions."

Dontae came in weighing more than he has the last couple of years, has that been a factor in his play at all?
"No. He is better in a lot of ways than he was. He is a better inside runner, a tougher runner. He is probably a better blocker."

The pass rush on the defensive side of the ball hasn't been as successful as last year. Is there any specific reason?
"We haven't always been able to get the guys free and the guy who has gotten free sometimes hasn't come on. And we haven't gotten the pressure from the outside like we normally have gotten. Our inside people have basically been the same, but our linebackers, inside and outside, and our DOG safeties haven't been the same."

Yeah, I noticed Mario Haggan had a lot of sacks last year after he was moved back to linebacker, but he hasn't gotten any sacks this season. Is it because he hasn't been blitzing this year?
"He is blitzing, but when they block him, someone else should be open."

Was the Auburn game the toughest game for the offensive line because of the speed of Auburn?
"Well, not really. Donald Tucker didn't play his best game."

Was that partly due to his injury?
"Probably, whether it was physical or mental, it was still there."

I noticed the punt coverage team did better during the Auburn game than they had done the previous two games.
"They did much better. That is something that we have improved in. We have also improved in the return game. The kicking game is probably where we have improved the most from last year."

I noticed that (punter) Jared Cook's net punting has increased each game this season.
"You want the net to increase. That is important. You would like to have about a 1 yard difference between your gross and net."

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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