Outside The Helmet, November 16

Bully BarkLine, the radio show that is exclusively about Mississippi State athletics that airs every Tuesday night 7-8 at The Little Dooey in Starkville, has a feature called 'Outside The Helmet' which is produced each week by Bully BarkLine guest host Melissa Tomlinson. This past Monday, Melissa and I talked with football players Zach Smith, Blake McAdams and Christian Ducre.

Melissa: Michael Brown said when he lost a game it was hard to talk to him right after the game.
McAdams - "I'm like that too. It's such an emotional game sometimes it's hard to switch off. You have a wall built up, I guess."

Melissa: Christian, how do you unwind after playing wide open on the field?
Christian Ducre - "Oh, I'm not really emotional on the field or off the field. It's pretty easy for me because I'm the same all the time. It's fun, but I don't get hyper or anything like that."

Gene: How do you stay low key about it? Those guys are trying to hurt you, tackle you.
Ducre - "That's how I am all the time since high school and junior high. I just handle my business."

Gene: You guys were laughing awhile ago. Is he pulling our leg or is he really like that?
Zach Smith - "No, he's like that in practice, too. You can't get a word out of him."

Melissa: Zach, when did you start playing football?
Smith - "I started out in Pee Wee football ... all defense. But when we moved to Susan Moore (High School) they moved me to quarterback because I was one of the faster ones. Then, I developed some arm strength and started throwing the ball around. When I came here I was moved to safety."

Melissa: What do you prefer, offense or defense?
Smith - "I like defense."

Gene: When did you first start playing football, Christian?
Durce - "I didn't start until I was in the 7th grade. I always grew up playing baseball. I always wanted to play, but my Dad and Mom wouldn't let me play. Soon as I got to play, it was so much fun to hit everybody and tackle."

Gene: But you are the one getting hit now.
Ducre - "No, I deliver (laugh)."

Melissa: Is it a lonely job being a punter?
McAdams - "I don't really think so. You are the only one back there, but I've always done it since I was little and I never felt too lonely doing it. But I always played everything."

Melissa: Do you get nervous during a game?
McAdams - "Not really. The first game of the year I do, but not after that. The first part of the game I'm tense, but I wouldn't call it nervous."

Melissa: What are your thoughts about the seniors that have gone through the tough times?
Smith - "I have a lot of respect for the older guys just because you had 25 or 26 guys come in and there's only about 8 or 9 seniors left, now. Those are the guys who stuck with it when times weren't good. They turned it around and I'm coming in at the right time and reaping the benefits."

Gene: Zach, describe Blake as a football player.
Smith - "I would say uncommon. Usually, kickers and punters aren't that big, but he could easily step on the field on defense and play at safety or something like that."

Gene: Blake, describe Christian as a player.
McAdams - "He's a hard worker. He's really come on as a back and helped us tremendously. Today, you can't just have one back on a team. Every team, even in the NFL, have two backs that they depend on. In our case, we have two number 1s."

Gene: Christian, describe Zack as a player.
Ducre - "He's crazy. He will throw his body at anybody. When we first met, I had broke out on a run and he came fullspeed and just hit me. Just threw his body at me, trying to kill me."

Gene: Did you expect that from Zach?
Ducre - "I didn't think he was going to hit like that, but I knew he was going to hit because I saw the little (highlight) tape of his."

Gene: What does that do to a running back? Do you, all of a sudden, have a lot of admiration for a guy like that?
Ducre - "Yeah, you know you are going to have to bring your A game for him because he's always going to bring his A game. During camp, we hit each other in one day three times .... well, he probably got me once and I got him twice. But we came back every time."

Melissa: Does it sometimes get personal on the football field? During the Alabama game somebody was all in somebody's face.
Smith - "There was a play, in particular, where I was running down the field on the kickoff. And Cory Reamer, who I grew up around in Hoover, kind of caught me under the chin and we kind of exchange some words, but we made up after the game. When you know somebody growing up and then you are playing against them, that kind of adds a little fuel to the fire."

Gene: How did you become this guy who throws his body into people when you make a tackle. You aren't really a big guy?
Smith - "Right now, I weigh about 190 and Duce, 'what are you about 250?'."

Ducre - "No, man, no, I'm about 225, 230."

Smith "He looks about 250, but he runs like he is 280." (Everybody laughs)

Gene: So, where did you get that mentality from?
Smith - "I've always had that hitting mentality. When I first got here, in our first meeting, Titus Brown turned around and asked me if I was a kicker. I said, 'naw, I'm a safety.' He was like, 'alright, we will see.' That was the first time we had stood up and introduced ourselves to the team. He was friendly about it, but that kind of stuck in the back of my head. Now, he and I are real close."

Gene: What are your thoughts about Coach Croom
Smith - "He is a great guy, real good coach. He didn't have to come here .. he had a great job in the NFL. But he came here and has turned the program around.

"If there was one word to describe Coach Croom it would be consistent. Everyday you are going to get the same thing. He treats you the same no matter who you are."

Ducre - "I didn't even visit here when I committed, coming from Tulane. The only person I met was him and (former MSU assistant) Coach (Amos) Jones, but he's gone. Me and my parents met Coach Croom and they just really made my decision for me because they just liked how good of a person he is, how good of a man he is, how he cares about getting an education and being a good person. And I felt the same way as my parents. I still feel that way."

McAdams - "He's a great Christian human being. He probably knows more about every aspect of the game as anybody that I've been around, even the kicking game. A lot of coaches don't know anything about the kicking game, but he knows quite a bit."

Gene: Christian, I get the impression you are one of those kind of guys who can really get focused. When did you forget about Alabama and start thinking about Arkansas?
Ducre - "I quit thinking about Alabama after that first down that I got (in the last MSU offensive drive) because I knew the defense would handle their business."

Melissa: In one word describe this season so far.
McAdams - "Gratifying. After all the hard work we have put in the past three years ... our plans were the same all three years, but it seems like we finally got all the right people in the right positions as far as talent-wise and experience-wise. I think when I first got here we probably started 5 or 6 freshmen and you can't go out and win in the SEC starting 5 or 6 freshmen. This team has finally grown as a team and it's paying off."

Ducre - "It's fun to me. In high school I never won a state championship, but I was always on a winning team. So, it's the same as high school, it's a lot of fun."

Smith - "I would say change because it's not the way it was in the past. Things are starting to turn around, hopefully."

Melissa: What do you guys think about a woman coaching football in the SEC?
Ducre - "Nobody would take her serious. That's just how it is because she's never played football before."

McAdams - "If she is knowledgeable about the game and knows what she's doing I don't have a problem with it. But you don't picture a woman doing that."

Smith - "If my coach looked as good as you do, I would play for her." (Folks, I was there and I can tell you that Melissa's day was made with that comment.-Gene)

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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