Tuesday Afternoon Football Press Conference

[Premium Article] MSU linebacker Mario Haggan talks about Tennessee, MSU's season so far and Marvin Byrdsong, his possible replacement for next season.

Mario Haggan:

What are your thoughts about Tennessee?
"Tennessee has a great number of running backs in Cedric Houston and Troy Fleming and Jabari Davis. Those guys have really run well for Tennessee this year. Their quarterback (Casey Clausen) is supposedly hurt this weekend, but hopefully he can play so Tennessee will be at their best. If not, they have another quarterback, James Banks, who is very athletic. He is very young, so hopefully we can get to him and cause him to make some mistakes early and help our defense get going."

Last week, Mississippi State played really well, especially the defense. How much does that help the team's morale for the upcoming game and the rest of the season?
"I think anytime you can finish the game on a better note than when you started, it always helps your team. It would have been much better if we could have won some of the games we played well in, but unfortunately the ball hasn't bounced our way. We are still fighting for momentum and for those breaks to come our way. Hopefully, they will come Saturday."

This is your senior season and you are the leader on defense. Who do you see stepping up to take your place as a leader next season?
"There are several different guys who can probably step up and take the leadership role. Darren Williams, maybe Jason Clark or T. J. Mawhinny can carry the load. But no one man has stood out right now. Hopefully, these guys will step up and take it upon themselves to do it."

More than likely Marvin Byrdsong will take your spot in the lineup next season. Watching him in practice, what are some things you have seen in him that makes you believe he will be a great player during his career?
"I think that Marvin has a great motor and is an explosive guy to the ball. Right now he probably isn't playing much because he is not adjusted to the game. He is still playing on the run. But this kid has a great attitude about playing. He is a great athlete and a big guy. Once he matures and goes through the weight program and understands what this game is all about, he is going to be the next All-American linebacker. He is going to be one of the better ones to play here and he could possibly be playing on Sunday later."

So, you feel your position is in good hands after you leave here?
"I think it will be in very good hands. We have guys like Marvin and Brandon Downing and other guys who can fill my shoes."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher and owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial site for Mississippi State sports since October, 1996. He can be reached by email at swindoll@genespage.com

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