Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill talked to the media about the upcoming Memphis game."> Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill talked to the media about the upcoming Memphis game.">

Memphis Football Game Press Conference

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/coaches/football/sherrill.jpg" align="left" width="121" height="160"> Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill talked to the media about the upcoming Memphis game.

Opening comments

"After grading the film, the players who played well, defensively, were Kamau Jackson, Darren Williams, Ronald Fields, Korey Banks, Mario Haggan and T. J. Mawhinney. Offensively, Fred Reid played very well. He broke 6 tackles. Justin (Griffith) broke 11 tackles. Kevin (Fant) played well after the first part of the game. Darius Tubbs is really playing well his senior year."

"Players who will not be able to play this week are Justin Jenkins and Scott Goldberg. Nick Turner had an MRI yesterday. It was negative, but he still hasn't practiced. We'll have to wait and see if Turner will be well enough to play. Kevin (Fant) will do some practicing today. He will throw the football today."

"Memphis is a much improved team, offensively. I guess every game they are re-writing their record book. Their quarterback has tremendous arm strength and very good touch. Their receivers are big and strong and do a great job of catching the deep ball. Defensively, they are very similar to last year. They are very fast and very quick. They have changed their defensive schemes. Instead of playing three-deep, they are playing two-deep. They do a lot of zone blitz. You have to be really prepared and understand it. Their kicking game has probably been a deficit for them. They have had some problems protecting the punter. They lost the Louisville game because of the kicking game. They would have won that game if their kicking game had been better."

Q & A with Jackie Sherrill

Is it a lot to ask true freshman left tackle Richard Burch to protect Kevin Fant's backside?
"But he has done it. Last week, when Kevin got sacked, it wasn't Richard but the backside, the right tackle.

"One thing I wrote on the board for the offensive coaches was that we have to protect Kevin."

What is his biggest problem playing on the offensive line as a freshman?
"It is not the physical part, because he is a good enough athlete to handle that. The biggest problem is seeing something for the first time. He is going to be challenged this due because of the speed of their defensive ends. They are fast. They also bring the SAM linebacker and drop the defensive end. Sometimes they will bring the SAM linebacker and defensive end and drop the defensive tackle. He'll have to make a decision very, very quickly."

Will Darren Williams start at free safety again?
"Yes, he will. I don't know of anybody else in the league who is starting two freshmen in the secondary. I don't know of anybody in the league who is starting a freshman offensive tackle either. Also, having Michael Gholar out there is almost like having another freshman out there. Michael makes enough plays to overcome some of the plays he doesn't make. One of these times when he is coming on a blitz and he hits that quarterback just right, it is going to be pretty tough on that quarterback. He is one guy I would want to make sure I knew where he was at all times, because he can cover a lot of ground in a very short period of time."

Since their kicking game is having problems right now, will you do some things to try and take advantage of it?
"We will put pressure on them. They will know that. Last year's game was anybody's game until we blocked the punt. A block punt or a punt return is so devastating that it is hard to overcome either one of them. I lost a national championship because we overcoached the kicking game. We protected really well but we didn't cover very well. Sometimes, when you are concerned about protecting the punter, you are not going to get off and cover very well."

Talk about Kevin Dockery's play during the Troy State game which was his first start.
"Kevin played well. He is going to get better and better."

Will this game be a little more difficult for Dockery since they like to go deep?
"He is a good athlete. That will help him. He can jump (38.5" vertical leap). It doesn't mean if they have 2 or 3 inches on you that you can't outjump them. The key is to have the right position. If you have the right position, then your ability takes over."

Do you expect to start the same 11 on offense and the same 11 on defense?
"I think defensively we will. Offensively, we will have to wait and see how practice goes this week, meaning we may have some that have bumps and bruises. I'm anticipating that we will. If (kicker) Brent Smith's back is still flaring up, then John Michael (Marlin) will kick."

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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