Post-Game Press Conference Transcript

Mississippi State head football coach Sylvester Croom talks about his team's 45-0 loss to No. 2 ranked LSU.

Opening Statement:

"I congratulated (LSU head coach) Les Miles and his football team. And wished them the best of luck the rest of the season. They definitely are a good football team.

"In addition, after the game, I talked to our team and told them the way I feel about them hasn't changed at all. I think we will definitely be a good football team before this year is over with.

"I was particularly proud of our defense and the way they played in the first half. They showed a lot of heart, character and fought extremely well. We had several guys we didn't know a lot about - Jimmie Holmes (5 tackles, 1 sack, 1.2 TFL) and Tim Bailey (3 tackles, 1 TFL) - who I think played pretty well. I saw them making a lot of plays and doing some things I didn't anticipate.

"We went into the game feeling like if we wanted to win it we had to take some chances, not be conservative, push the ball up the field because they are an outstanding defense. They give you a lot of problems with a multitude of blitzes. If we had not had the penalties and turnovers we were going to take some more chances because we felt like we had to do that to win the football game. We felt like we were prepared for everything that they have done and they showed up in one that we hadn't seen. And it gave us some problems. I thought the protection was pretty good in the first half, but we just missed some opportunities throwing and catching which kept our defense with their backs to the wall.

"Our coverage units and kicking was much improved. But our kicking was inconsistent. The kicking off was about what I expected it would be - it was pretty good. Our (kickoff) coverage was better. Of course we didn't get too many opportunities to do that. Blake (McAdams) was a little inconsistent with his punting, but I thought our guys covered very well. That's a pleasing thing.

"The bottom line is I thought we could be in the football game and possibly get it to late in the second half, but with seven turnovers you don't have a chance against anybody, really. But, especially, against a good football team like that. We are disappointed, our players are disappointed especially to see it end up with a final score like that. But a lot of that happened due to turning the football over. We turned it over and gave them extremely good field position.

"We are going to give the players the weekend off to get a little rest. Then we will come back Monday and start getting ready for Tulane."


What are your thoughts about your quarterback's play.
"I think that is pretty obvious. It wasn't a very good game for Mike. We will look at the film and see what we have to correct with him. He is the first to admit that he wasn't playing well. There's not a whole lot else to say. He didn't play well and we all know that."

Do you think he was trying too hard to make plays?
"That's possible. We tried to get him settled down and go back to our base passes. But he had been practicing extremely well. We have been moving the ball against our defense, doing a lot of the same things the LSU defense was doing. We executed very well in practice. We just didn't get it done tonight. The ball was sailing high and when you are playing man coverage like they were a lot of time, they have a free safety sitting back there which made the (interceptions) very easy."

How about talking about how the offense can maintain a high level when they turn the ball over so much.
"You can't. There's no way because you lose field position, you lose offensive opportunities. The big thing is we never could give our defense some rest. We never got into a position of any degree of consistency. We went for it on 4th and 3. We had a play called that we felt would be a great call when they lined up in their defense. Then we get a (bad) quarterback-center exchange. We worked on a wet ball drill because we knew it would probably be wet. There's no excuse for that, but it happened. That was a really big play in the game because we felt like at that point if we got that first down we had the chance to move it down and have a chance to score. That would have really given our team a lift because our defense was playing well, really playing well at that time."

How crucial was the last second touchdown by LSU at the end of the first half?
"You hated that they got it. But we turned the football over when we had it down there in decent position. And they brought it back out and was able to move the ball down the field. Anytime you (allow your opponent to) score late in the half that's tough."

You mentioned that you weren't going to be conservative on offense in this game. Is that the reason you went for it on 4th down?
"Yeah, all of that was planned. I had made up my mind if we were across the fifty-yard line, but not in field goal range and it was less than 5 yards on fourth down we were going for it. There were not going to be any holes barred in this football game. We were going to try everything possible to win this football game. We just didn't execute."

What are your thoughts about the offensive line as far as their pass-blocking during the game?
"From what I could tell, the offensive line did well. The only time I felt they hurt us was when we missed assignments. Physically, I thought we held up very well for the most part, particularly in the first half. I thought we had good protection, particularly when you have guys like (Tyson) Jackson and (Glenn) Dorsey out there. And they threw a lot of blitzes at us early, but our guys picked them up just like we worked on. We just didn't throw and catch early on like I thought we would."

Are you worried about the mindset of your team after a loss like this?
"Standing on the sideline I was concerned about our team early on because they had played so hard. I felt bad for them. They had really played hard the first half. Then, to end up with a score like that that doesn't indicate how hard they had played. That was my big worry. But when we got in the dressing room and I talked to them .... everything I felt about our team going in hasn't changed. I believe in them. Titus (Brown) got up at the end and told them that 'we are going to be a good football team. Nobody is going to point fingers. We are going to take some rest and come back and work Monday.' He has been one of the big leaders on the team since the season started. Just his attitude alone reflects how those guys feel in the dressing room. They are hurting right now, there is no question about that. They thought they could win this football game. And that was a good (LSU) football team out there. But they fought them tooth and nail the first half. (As an example, Derek) Pegues ended up with total body cramps at one point.

"But I have no doubts that after getting some rest they will come back with a lot of enthusiasm. I told them before the game if we had won this game we would take 24 hours to celebrate and put it behind us. But we lost it, so we'll take 24 hours to mourn and put it behind us and move on to the next one."

What was the one defensive scheme that gave your offense problems?
"(They) had an all-out blitz where they brought everybody, I mean everybody. When they bring nine it is pretty tough to pick up when you are trying to get everybody out. He did it late in the ballgame when he knew we had to throw the football."

What are your thoughts about their quarterback, Matt Flynn?
"I thought he did a good job. He did the things they wanted him to do. And he ran the ball a little bit better than I thought he would. And I thought that we got tremendous pressure on him, but early on he slipped us a couple of times. And we didn't get good hits on him when we tackled him, we were grabbing. But I thought our guys adjusted later on and were able to get him down pretty effectively."

Have you ever been involved in a game where your team had six interceptions?
"We had a game like this when I was coaching at Alabama. We had five interceptions in one ballgame and didn't have another one the rest of the year. And I sure hope I get that kind of break again."


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


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