Coach Jackie Sherrill talks to the media about his team's 35-17 loss to Tennessee in Starkville Saturday afternoon."> Coach Jackie Sherrill talks to the media about his team's 35-17 loss to Tennessee in Starkville Saturday afternoon.">

Sherrill Talks About the 35-17 Loss to Tenn.

<img src="" align="left" width="121" height="160"> Coach Jackie Sherrill talks to the media about his team's 35-17 loss to Tennessee in Starkville Saturday afternoon.

Opening Comments:

"We knew coming into the game we would have to stop their running game. And we knew they would go two tight ends or tight end and wing."

"We came back and made it 21-17 with the field goal, then we gave them the two big plays. That was the tight end delay and the screen. The screen was their big one."

"A lot of players played very hard. That is very encouraging. We had some young guys that made some plays. I was very pleased to see Justin (Griffith) play as well as he did. If we had about 20 of (him) we would have a chance to win every game, but we only have one."

"I thought our players were ready to play and I thought we played well as far as the emotional side (of the game). But we gave up those three big plays (the sack of Fant and the two pass plays) at the end when we had a chance to turn it around."

"Injury wise, we had some players including Tommy Kelly and Mario (Haggan) that had an ankle (injury). Then, we had Darnell (Jones) who got hit in the ribs. We are going to have to monitor that because he had some blood in there."

Q&A with Coach Sherrill:

How is Kevin Fant's status?
"Kevin should be ok. He just got beat up. We didn't protect him a couple of times. That is something that we need to do."

What happened on that play where he got sacked and they got the touchdown off of it?
"We had the fullback in the flat. The safety came up and covered the fullback so we had to curl behind it. He was waiting for the curl and probably easy protection but they got in between our guard, center and tackle on the backside. I would have to see it (on film), but we shouldn't have allowed him to get hit on the backside."

Did Kevin come out of the game because of his injury?
"We put Kyle (York) in because Kevin got hurt, then we just left him in the game."

Could Kevin have come back in?
"Yes, but we didn't do that. We wanted to make sure we kept him well."

How would you evaluate how Kyle played?
"He did some things good and he also didn't do some things very well. Until we get to watch it on film (we won't know for sure)."

Did (the officials) tell you what the personal foul was when you got the sack on their quarterback on third down?
"Yeah, they were going down the field and they were going after each other. When you are the last one, you are going to get the flag. Should it have happened? No. But there are a lot of times when you only see one part and don't see the whole thing. But that was a big one because the momentum was getting ready to change. It was 21-17 and you come right back and stop them." [I was actually watching the two players involved in the call. What I saw was Banks push the wide receiver after the play was over. The official immediately called a penalty.-Gene]

They showed Banks on tv....
"You guys....and I'm going to say this one more time, we got a penalty. These guys are not pros, so it doesn't make any difference who got it. It was a penalty. I don't think you can help yourself or anybody if you are going...we got a penalty. Mississippi State got a penalty."

Why did you have so much trouble stopping the running game when you knew that was what they were going to do?
"Well, they are pretty good, now. After the adjustments we did (stop them). I got reprimanded so I can't say what I really want to say." [Earlier in the season, coach Sherrill got reprimanded by the SEC for commenting on the officials.-Gene]

On those two pass plays, were those good reads by the quarterback or.....
"We didn't cover the tight end. We turned the tight end loose. That could have been an interception going the other way and the same thing on the screen."

It looked like Gholar on the blitz....
"It wasn't Gholar."

What happened on the sideline with Josh (Morgan) and the Tennessee player over by the hedges?
"I don't know if everybody could see that, but (Josh) got ran out of bounds. When they said this, they couldn't get the numbers (of the players). At that time they felt it was both groups jawing at each other. If they would have stopped it and got the numbers first, then we probably would have benefited, but that didn't happen, so both groups got involved. Because they didn't have numbers, they made the decision to penalize both teams."

Will Kevin (Fant) start Saturday?

Do you think Tennessee was the best of the three teams you had left on the schedule?
"We haven't played the other two. I would say right now, according to everybody, Arkansas is, defensively, playing the best."

How is your team dealing with the weight of the losses?
"They have come back. You have to give credit to a lot of these kids because of their character, including 31 (Justin Griffith) and 98 (Mario Haggan) and some others who will keep this team going forward.

"We have 37 freshmen and 5 that have started defensively at different times. We are starting 2 guys (Johnny Wadley and Carl Hutchins) on the offensive line that at the start of the season we had not planned on playing a whole lot, but they are starters right now."

We didn't see a whole lot of Dontae (Walker) today. Is he healthy or was it just the situations in the game?
"He is healthy, but it is just the game. At the times he was in there, he played well."

[There were no more questions following the Walker question.-Gene]

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

Gene's Page Top Stories