"In the Arkansas game we ended up getting kind of beat up. It was a very, very physical game on both sides (of the ball). We have a lot of players, because it is a short week, that will be difficult to get back. Very questionable is Josh (Morgan) who has a forearm fracture. We want to get Ray Ray (Bivines) and Michael Gholar healthy. Mario (Haggan) should be able to play. Carl Hutchins had an MCL (injury) and will be slowed this week, but should be able to play this week. We are trying to get Justin (Jenkins) back. He has a quad condition. Tommy Kelly and Terrell Grindle are still questionable. Darius Tubbs has an ankle sprain, but hopefully he will be back. Kevin Fant hyper-extended his knee. Rico Bennett is also hurt."
Q&A with Jackie Sherrill:
Who did you anticipate starting at quarterback Thursday?
"We may not have a choice because it will depend on who is healthy. We will work with (the quarterbacks) this week to see who is healthy."
Even if Kevin can't start do you think he can play if something were to happen to Kyle (York)?
"I think he can. What keeps you from moving around is not the knee itself but the swelling."
Can you comment on Michael Gholar and Ray Ray Bivines' injuries.
"Ray Ray has a groin pull and he has had it (for a while). He has been playing (with it) but he has been probably about 85%. Michael has a bruised knee and he also has a lower back strain."
What is Terrell Grindle's injury?
"He had a finger (injury) that he got hurt again. He also has an ankle sprain."
How questionable is he?
"He is very questionable."
In rivalry games have you noticed that kids are often times more willing to play injured than during a regular game?
"They get ready to play. They will find a way to get well and play."
Is it a mind over matter thing or more treatment time or both?
"Sometimes you can play but if you are injured to the point where you can't play, then you can't. But if it is something where you can play with pain, then they block it out mentally."
How careful do you and the trainers have to be with a kid who really wants to play in this game?
"The trainers don't really have any say-so in who plays. It is strictly the doctors and they are not going to put anybody out there at risk."
You've had a lot of success in this rivalry, a 7 and 4 record. What do you attribute the success to besides good athletes?
"I can't answer that other than whoever played that game that day usually makes the difference in the game."
Last year Ole Miss had a lot on the line and you guys played (well against them) particularly Kevin Fant.
"Kevin played really well last year. We had some other kids defensively who also played well.
This is a different Ole Miss team than in the past, isn't it?
"We are playing a young man (Eli Manning) who has a lot of weapons. He is not your average player. Manning will be playing for years to come on Sunday (in the NFL). I would try to get the ball in his hands and let him win the game as much as I could. One thing that you see in Mississippi that you didn't see two or three years ago is the speed. Mississippi has tons of speed. Their receivers and running backs have tremendous speed. That showed up against LSU. They also have a lot of speed up front defensively. They aren't overly huge, but they have a lot of quickness and speed. Their linebackers and secondary have speed."
With the struggles your team has had, how much of a difference will winning this game make in the overall scheme of things?
"The biggest thing is something happening good for them. Just like last week, we had the tipped ball finally bounce our way instead of bouncing someone else's way. We just need some good things to happen for a change. We have a very young football team and it looks like we will be playing more younger players this week."
Is there a certain player or a group of players on the Ole Miss defense that you are looking at as far as players who can make plays for Ole Miss?
"They all can. They are playing a lot of guys in the defensive line. The linebackers have a lot of speed. (Eddie) Strong is an excellent football player but he has been for a long time. (Matt) Grier is an outstanding player in the secondary."
Are you at a point where you can give us an update on Dontae Walker's status?
"I've talked to him and we are going to meet today sometime before practice. Then we will go from there."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org