Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talked to the media Tuesday afternoon about the Arkansas game."> Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talked to the media Tuesday afternoon about the Arkansas game.">

Jackie Sherrill Press Conference

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

Coach Sherrill's Opening Comments:

"This is the last game for our seniors on our field. There are a lot of good things that this group has given this football team. There are a lot of seniors, starting with Justin Griffith, that have been outstanding leaders on this team and not letting them go backwards. Right now, we are a lot better than three weeks ago. We've played very, very hard for 60 minutes but at the end of the game you have to make plays to win it and we haven't done that."

"We are playing a team (Arkansas) that jumped out early, but then didn't play well. The last four games they have played very well. Two weeks ago they went to South Carolina and shut South Carolina out, which is very, very hard to do. Defensively, they are probably playing the best in the league. They do a lot of things defensively. They line up, move around, stand up. They play an eight man front. They like to give you a lot of different looks in secondary coverages. They do that to try and give you a lot of problems, a lot of confusion. As long as they are able to do that, then they will stay in that kind of flow and do those different things. It is up to us offensively to try and control that and get them out of it.

"Offensively, you start with their quarterback. He does some things where you look and wonder how did he do it. He is really a terrific athlete with a lot of speed. He doesn't look as fast as he is, but he has a tremendous speed. Every week they have a running back that jumps out there. One week it may be Talley. Another week, someone else. They have four tailbacks and all four of them have had really good games this year. It looks like they play a player and if he isn't playing well, then they let somebody else take over."

"I don't know if Mario (Haggan) will be ready to play. I also don't know about Tommy Kelly. Everybody else should be back and have a chance to play."

Q&A with Coach Sherrill

What will you lose when Donald Lee is gone?
"You lose a very good player. When we recruited him, we were fortunate to know quite a bit about him because we had him in our camp. We could see his athleticism. The very first day he was here on campus it was kind of like having (former MSU TE) Reginald Kelly. We've been very fortunate, since I've been here, to have very good tight ends. All of our tight ends have had the opportunity to go on and play in the next league. Donald will also have that opportunity."

If Mario can't go who will start in his play?
"We'll go with (Marvin Byrdsong). His nickname is Baby Boy. That is what his mother calls him. That is what he wants to be called."

If you start Mario how may freshmen will you start on defense?
"Counting Gholar it will be five." (Because this is Gholar's first year to play college football coach Sherrill considers him a newcomer.-Gene)

How is Kevin Fant's shoulder?
"He practiced last night, although he didn't throw. He will throw tonight."

How did freshman defensive lineman Willie Evans perform against Tennessee and how has he improved as the season has progressed?
"He has improved every week. You would have like to have enough depth so that Willie wouldn't have to play almost every snap. He is not as big as he will be. When he came here he lost some weight to play fullback. When we moved him over it was really too late for him to gain the weight back. He is really playing 15 pounds to 20 pounds lighter than he could be playing. He will be 15 to 20 pounds heavier next year. He is a kid that will weigh 280 to 285 and just as quick and fast as he is now. He is probably about 265."

Yesterday, you mentioned that Brent Smith can do so many different things. What were you referring to?
"He can kick it with either foot. He can kick it right or kick it left. He also has the ability to place the ball at different places. He is very knowledgeable. When he goes out to warm up in the pregame warmup, he will tell me exactly how far he can kick if both ways. He is very honest with it. Just like last week, the wind didn't feel that strong on the ground but in the air it was strong. He came and told me that he can't kick it out going toward the scoreboard. That is why we kicked the sky kick.

"Not only is he a talented player but he is also a very talented student. It doesn't hurt to have players who are 4.0 students. They give you credibility on campus."

Do you anticipate playing Kyle York during the game?
"Yes, we are going to play Kyle. In the game of football you talk about doing certain things, then all of a sudden the ball doesn't bounce that way. John Madden was talking about having Kenny Stabler and Darryl Lamonica. He wanted to play Stabler but he couldn't ever tell him that he was going to play if this happened or in this quarter. You can't ever tell what is going to happen. We try to plan for them."

Is there any way to simulate playing against Jones?
"Yeah, we have a freshman that is pretty similar to him, Aries Nelson."

Have you seen improvement in Jones this year?
"Jones has thrown the ball very well this year. He is a good player. He is not an average player."

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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