"That's THE key. You have to have everything else. You have to have an offensive line, a defensive line ... you have to have all the other ingredients to have a chance to win. So, let's say you have everything else, the best you are going to be is a .500 team. The quarterback is the one that pushes you over .500. That's the guy who makes the difference. He is the one that helps you beat the teams that are as good as you are or are better than you are. The quarterback is the difference. That's why it's such a fight all the time to get the good quarterbacks.
"It's no accident that the best two teams in pro football are the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts. There's no question about that. If Brett Favre's not at Green Bay, they don't win a game this season because they have no running game. You look in the NFL, the best quarterbacks in that league are winning. The team that doesn't have the quarterback, they may have everything else but they are not winning. That's just the way it is."
How much has having your quarterbacks injured hurt the success of your program?
"It is very rare that you will have success if your quarterback situation is not stable. Now, for two years we've had to battle injuries at that position. Last year, we didn't have a lot of the other things to go with it. This year, we have a lot of those other things. And Wes (Carroll) has done a very commendable job. But there are subtle things that, at this point in our evolution, we should be able to do if Mike Henig had not gotten hurt and been our quarterback. Because of the experience and the things that we have gone through with him, we should be reaping the benefits of that at this point, but we aren't because he's not there. It's no fault of his, but he's not there."
As for quarterbacks, do they have to be great quarterbacks or can their strengths successfully fit the type offense they are in?
"They have to be effective quarterbacks. The better the talent is, the more you can do. The ability to throw the ball across the field in tight coverage and get it in there ... that's talent. Anybody can draw up that play, but when it's against one of the best corners in the conference in tight man-to-man coverage and you have a great receiver running the route, you still have to stick it somewhere where the defensive back can't get it - that's the difference the great ones do. And that's what (Kentucky starting quarterback Andre) Woodson does.
But even as talented as he is, he couldn't do those type things early in his career. Kentucky's coaches were patient with him although maybe the fans weren't.
"He didn't do it early on. You take the quarterback at Auburn the year they went undefeated. The year before that they wanted to run the guy out of town. Then, the next year they should have won the national championship. Now, he's having a great year in the pros. But as a junior, the Auburn fans wanted him out."
Do you feel like you currently have the type quarterbacks on campus that can make this program more than a .500 program?
"I feel like our future is very bright with the quarterbacks that we have on our roster at this point and I know our future is bright with the one that we are going to be adding in the future."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.