Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talked to the media Tuesday about the upcoming Troy State vs. Mississippi State game and many other things related to the MSU football program."> Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talked to the media Tuesday about the upcoming Troy State vs. Mississippi State game and many other things related to the MSU football program.">

Jackie Sherrill's October 8th Press Conference

<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 Troy State vs. Mississippi State game and many other things related to the MSU football program.

Opening comments by Coach Sherrill.

"We let the players off on Sunday and we, as a staff, met Saturday night until about 2 o'clock Sunday morning and came back and met with them (Monday). We did not look at the film individually. We moved on to Troy State."

"When you look at Troy State, the first thing you see is that they have a lot of players, defensively. They have eight seniors back. Five of the eight are five-year guys. Offensively, they have good players. (Head coach) Larry's (Blakeney) done a good job taking players that would not qualify at other places and bring them in. He's also done a good job with transfers helping them become successful there."

"Troy State led Nebraska at one time in that game before Nebraska turned it around. They played very well against Missouri. We don't expect the game to be any different than last year. There is no question that our players will not overlook this game."

"There are some players we are trying to get back. (Nick) Turner is about 50% right now, and Jerious (Norwood) is probably about 70%. Gabe Wallace will not play because of a sprained MCL. Justin Jenkins will also miss the game."

"On Saturday, we were moving towards having our (offensive) linemen in order, with five guys ready, but then (Brad) Weathers went out. Hopefully, we'll be able to start those same five this week and keep them the rest of the season."

"(True freshman offensive lineman) Richard Burch gets better each week. I haven't been around too many offensive linemen that have been able to jump out there and play (as a freshman)."

"(Center) Blake Jones did some things very, very well keeping their noseguard out of the game."

"All the young guys played well. They made a lot of plays, a lot of big plays. It doesn't mean that they played every play well or didn't make mistake, but they gave a lot of effort. That is something that you have to live with when you play young guys."

"We were moving in the right direction, but then we lost the guys (Nick Turner) that was probably going to jump out there and do it. He was on the verge of going out there and making some big plays on both punts and kickoffs."

"Last spring (Michael Gholar) came to the office and asked if he could come out for the spring. We told him he'd have to get Coach Stansbury's permission. That was the last I saw of him. One of the major reasons that they won the SEC Tournament and went as far as they did in the NCAA was because of Gholar's play. He really is a gifted athlete. If we would've had him for four years, he would have been All-Conference and All-American by now."

Questions for Coach Sherrill.

Do you feel you have thrown the ball downfield enough through the first five games?
"No, we haven't."

Why not?
"We just haven't, but we need to make sure that we do."

Do you feel you have some receivers that can get deep and can make plays?
"We have a quarterback that can throw. We have some running backs that can run. Now, we just have to make sure that we have our hats on the right people. That is one thing about having young people. It is hard to do that when you are young."

The first five games hasn't been up to Mississippi State standards as far as running the ball. What reasons are there for people to believe that it is going to improve the next seven games?
"That is something that we have to emphasize. It will start today. Our practice today (Tuesday) will be a very physical practice. Going back, it didn't make any difference if people put 8 or 9 people in the box, we were still able to run the football."

You mentioned Richard Burch during your opening statements. Have you ever started a true freshman offensive lineman during your coaching career?
"Yes, Bill Fralic started the very first play (of his freshman year)."

So Richard is only the second offensive lineman to start for you as a true freshman?
"Yes. It is hard for a freshman to start. He is talented. He is further along and is very intelligence and picks things up very quickly. He may get beat one time but his memory bank is pretty strong. He won't make that mistake a second time."

And Richard is not the only freshman you have started this year. You have also started Chris McNeil. Even though he isn't a true freshman, but a redshirt freshman, he is a freshman nevertheless.
"Both of those guys are All-American (type) freshman, All-American (type) players. If Chris had not gotten hurt, he would have been an All-American freshman offensive lineman. We have some other talented, young guys who will be here for a while. We just have to understand that they are young and will make mistakes."

You are playing a lot of freshmen, close to 20 in fact. Have you ever played this many freshmen during other years of your coaching career?
"Not lately, but I have."

What were the results that your teams had after those freshmen became veterans?
"A very good example was Pittsburgh in 1973 when we played a lot of freshmen. In 1976, they won the National Championship. The same thing could be said about Texas A&M when we played a lot of freshmen in 1983 and 1984 and won the conference in 1985, '86 and '87. Alabama played a lot of freshmen one year and then a few years later they won the National Championship."

Is Mississippi State having any problem getting recruits to unofficially visit due to the record this year?
"No, you are going to have kids come to Mississippi State regardless. You are going to have kids go to other places regardless. One good thing is kids will say I want to go to Mississippi State because I can play (as a freshman). When they see freshmen playing, that is a big, big deal. They know they can come here and play as a freshman and make a contribution. That is a big deal."

You talked about the importance of recruits been able to play as freshmen. How important do you think that is to a player when your team is not winning?
"If you have never won that is one thing but they know we have won and will win. It's just like Georgia. Georgia had some down years, but all of a sudden they built it back up because kids thought they could go to Georgia and play and win. And they have."

What do you recommend that fans do if they are sitting up in the stands and don't like what they see?
"The best thing to do to help this football team is to be very positive and very excited. During the season is not the time to show their displeasure. They can say all that they want to after the season or on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. On Saturday, when they are in the stands, they need to be supportive."

You have mentioned that you are going to make changes. Are you only going to change personnel or are you also going to change some other things?
"You have to have change. You can change the way you practice, the way you travel. That was the first thing that I did yesterday. I said the first thing that we were going to do was change the way we practice. We have and are doing things differently."

Are you going to be more physical in practice?
"Very much so. We have gotten away from going against each other during practice. We will now do that again. We will go one against one."

Were you less physical in practice last season as well?
"We had gotten away from certain things such as going against each other full speed. We did that because we only have 85 players. You are rolling the dice when you do that, but we know we have to do it."

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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