[Premium Article] Mississippi State players Justin Griffith, Kyle York, Fred Reid, Mario Haggan and Korey Banks and assistant coach Carroll McCray talked about their 29-17 victory over Memphis."> [Premium Article] Mississippi State players Justin Griffith, Kyle York, Fred Reid, Mario Haggan and Korey Banks and assistant coach Carroll McCray talked about their 29-17 victory over Memphis.">

MSU-Memphis Postgame Press Conference

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/01players/football/2003/griffithj.jpg" align="left" width="120" height="159"> [Premium Article] Mississippi State players Justin Griffith, Kyle York, Fred Reid, Mario Haggan and Korey Banks and assistant coach Carroll McCray talked about their 29-17 victory over Memphis.

Running back Justin Griffith:

Was this what you had wanted all year?
"This is what we have been looking for all year. (Running back) coach (Glenn) Davis always tells the running backs that we have to win it on the ground if we are going to win the ballgame. We had success in the air, but we had it on the ground tonight."

You got hurt tonight, you came out then you came back in to help set the way for the touchdown.
"I have that don't quit motor in me. I'm having fun out there with the team, so I know if the team can give it their all, then I can to even with the ankle injuries. I just wanted to be out there with the fellows."

What was hurting you? "Both of my ankles were hurting tonight. I had both of them get nicked up tonight. I prayed about it, then went back out there."

Did you put yourself back in?
"Yeah, I had to go back in. I like having fun playing football. Football is fun to me. Our team is on the rise now. We just have to keep working and stay positive."

How nervous was (quarterback) Kyle York tonight?
"To me, Kyle looked real nervous, but after he got out there and threw a couple of swing passes to Ray Ray Bivines and the other wide receivers, he got kind of loose."

How well did the offensive line play tonight?
"The line play was awesome. Tonight they got a game ball because of their run blocking. They did well in pass protection to. Overall, the line did real well."

What was Memphis doing differently this year?
"They didn't do much different this year. They have a good defense. It is just hard to play Memphis at (their) home."

Talk about Jerious Norwood's big run.
"Norwood is a real good running back. We always talk about how long his legs are. When he gets out there and runs, it is unbelievable. He has a lot of speed."

You played a lot of tailback.
"I played a lot of 1-back. Whatever they want me to play, I'll play. I don't consider myself a tailback or a fullback. I'm a running back."

The team has now won two in a row and you have an open date to enjoy it and build on it. How much will that help this team?
"That helps us a lot. We have a lot of people injured. Now, we have the time to get everybody treated and get well."

The last time Kyle (York) played he threw 5 passes and threw 2 interceptions. How much did this game help him?
"The win helped Kyle a lot. He received a game ball tonight for the effort he put forth out there and for hanging in there. After the interception, he didn't hang his head. We are going to stay behind him. If he had to be the man the entire year, we would stay behind him."

Talk about the defense's play tonight. This is two dominating defensive games in a row.
"The defense started with Troy State. They look like the defense that was number one in the nation in 1999. We wish sometimes we could go out there and take some of the pressure off of them, especially when they get interceptions and cause fumbles. We need to score off their turnovers."

Do you think this team has finally turned the corner?
"I think this team is getting to that jelling point. We are getting to the point where we know we are a good team."

How easy will it be to go to practice knowing you have two wins in a row?
"I don't think it will be easy because Coach Sherrill will not make it easy on us. I think he will still have the inside drills with the one defense going against the one offense."

Coach Sherrill said before this winning streak that he was going back to being physical in practice. Has that been part of the difference in this team?
"I believe that is part of it. Practice makes perfect to me. When you get out there with the number one defense going against the number one offense it helps a lot."

Quarterback Kyle York:

When did you find out that you were going to start?
"I did not find out for sure until today, but I had a pretty good idea about it since Sunday."

Were you nervous?
"Going into the Oregon game, I was going crazy. But this game I knew there was a little pressure off me because I had already gotten my first start before. Fortunately, I've been through this before, so the team had more confidence in me and that helped me out a lot."

During the drive near the end of the first half, you completed a couple of short passes. Do you think that helped you get your confidence up?
"It really did. That last drive (11 plays, 54 yards, Field goal) was a really calming factor. It really gave me a better idea of what the defense was going to give us. It certainly helped to calm me down because I came out a little over aggressive. I came out wanting to do too much."

What was the turning point in this game?
"I don't know if there was a turning point. For me personally, it was that last drive of the first half because I finally got that rhythm that I was searching for. The offensive line was protecting well and the backs were running well and the coaches were calling plays that I was comfortable with and plays that were not taking too many risks. Honestly, I was taking too many risks early on and I think it showed. As we got into the game and got that last drive in the first half and kicked the field goal it kind of made me aware of what the defense was giving us and how we could exploit it."

How much did the Oregon game helped you tonight?
"It helped me out a great deal. I feel like playing in a hostile environment like Oregon even though we didn't win was a great experience for me. It taught me a lot about the speed of the game and about the intensity of the game."

The last time you played you threw 5 passes and 2 of them were picked off. How do you bounce back from a game like that?
"One of the things you have to understand is that, especially for young guys like myself, a lot of time things that happen are more a matter of circumstances than anything else. Unfortunately, our first three SEC games we didn't perform as well as we could. I got in at the end of those games and I didn't perform as well as I could. I don't feel like it is because I am not capable as a quarterback, but due more to the circumstances. Being able to prepare for a full week knowing that I am the starter helps a lot because it helps rally the team around me. Being able to run the offense the entire game instead of just the last two minutes is a great confidence boost."

Running back Fred Reid:

Talk a little about the offensive line. Do they finally appear to be played well together?
"Yeah, they are coming together real well. They have been working hard in practice. They came out and played real well tonight. With them doing so well, we are able to find the holes and run the ball real hard."

You now have a two game winning streak. After losing 4 of the first 5, how does winning the last 2 make you feel and how can you build on that feeling?
"It makes me feel real good. We have a bye week and we have to keep working and don't slack off. Everybody just needs to stay together."

Talk a little about the defense's play tonight.
"They stepped up big tonight. They got 2 touchdowns for us and that was really big."

Coach Sherrill made the practices more physical a couple of weeks ago. Has that helped this team perform better in games?
"That made a big difference, especially with the offensive linemen. They did real good against the first defense in practice. That helped out a lot."

Talk about the touchdown. Justin Griffith came back in and plowed the way for you.
"I felt like I had to get in there. I wasn't going to be denied."

Justin was hurt but came back out and played.
"He came out playing hurt. He wanted it from his heart. He was hurting real bad and he was tired, but he kept pushing. That is what we want in a teammate. He really wanted this win. You could see it in him."

Linebacker Mario Haggan:

Talk a little about the defense's play tonight.
"We are trying to get there. We don't want to put any pressure on ourselves. We just want to play hard and come out and give our offense a chance to move the ball."

Do you have any idea why Memphis kept throwing to the side of a senior cornerback (Korey Banks) over a true freshman cornerback (Kevin Dockery)?
"Kevin Dockery was playing well, so you have no choice to try one of them. They decided to go to their best receiver and Banks made them pay. Dockery, even though he is a freshman, he is playing like a veteran. Other teams are going to respect that he can play."

What parts of the defense do you think still needs improvement?
"We need to quick giving up short passes. We need to rush better and tackle better. We have a lot of things we need to improve on. We have a lot of things to improve on. We are not satisfied. Until we become dominant, we won't quit trying to improve."

Cornerback Korey Banks:

Talk about the touchdown against you at the end of the first half.
"He went deep. I should have made the interception but it slipped through my hands. My hands were wet from having fallen on the ground. That's still not an excuse. I should have had it. It slipped right through my hands. I had perfect coverage. It doesn't get any better than that. I just needed to make that play and didn't."

The next two times they came your way you got two picks.
"Well, I felt bad. Some games they might throw that touchdown and not come back."

What was going through your head after you got your last interception? You were pretty animated after you made it.
"The whole game their sidelines talked more than any team I have ever seen. All of them were messing with me. But I love that because that is the kind of game I like to play."

How important is it for you and Kevin Dockery to play that man coverage so that other guys can support against the run?
"It is real important. We have to understand as corners we are going to give up plays. We just have to keep playing four quarters. We don't get down when we give up a play. We just get mad and come back."

Why do you think they picked on you so much tonight?
"On film no one came toward me. They probably thought we need to try and exploit that. I liked it. I wish every team would do that because it would be better for me. It makes me feel like I'm in the game."

How good was their quarterback compared to other quarterbacks that you have seen?
"Their quarterback puts the ball on the money. They scream Eli (Manning) but he is probably right up there and may even be better than Eli because of the scheme they run. I like him. He is going to tear some records up."

Offensive line coach Carroll McCray:

Talk about how much the offensive line has improved from the beginning of the year to now?
"I think we have seen them get better in certain ways each week, but we haven't seen the results on the field. And that has been tough on all of us. Today, they got to see some positive results and I am happy for them. Now, I hope we have some things we can build on."

On your last offensive drive of the game (6 play, 31 yards) you had different guys in because of an injury.
"We had Kyle Watson at center, Will Rogers at right guard and had moved Donald Tucker to left tackle. I'm excited about the things they did when they came in."

You have now won two games and you have a week off. That has to be a big positive that you can build on the next two weeks.
"I'm excited to look at the film. We can throw away the bad and keep the good and build on that. We also have some time to heal up, hopefully, get them all back well. The timing is good. We will continue to have to work hard. But their attitude has been a working attitude all along. I think if they will continue to do that, then they will continue to get better."

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.

Gene's Page Top Stories