Well last year, we made our team one of those teams in the SEC. Our condition and mindset that (MSU head) Coach (Sylvester) Croom instilled in us was to never let up and make the next play your best play. I know I can speak for the rest of the guys on the team when I say that we weren't scared to play anyone that season. The way we practiced and played against each other every day was sometimes tougher than the actual games. In fact, sometimes the game was the easy part - it was just more people watching it. So, Auburn was just another game on the schedule like any other year, but last year we not only knew we could but we knew we would beat them.
I really wish everyone could have the experience of hearing Coach Croom talk everyday during practice - before and after a game. He gives us so much motivation that you feel like you can do anything. Through that whole week last year he knew that the Auburn game would be a changing point not only in our season but in the whole program. And he believed it, so I believed it, too.
That week of practice was probably one of the most important ones of my time as a player. I remember talking with (tight ends) Coach (Reed) Stringer, and he was so amped up because he believed and he knew the importance of the game. It is so exciting to be in a meeting with Coach Stringer and the rest of the tight ends because coach is so animated. He made it comfortable for everyone and tried not to put any stress on us. As a senior group, he believed in us so much that if we did something wrong it felt like we were letting him down. He was a very good friend and a coach. And he believed that we were going to beat everybody and that the tight ends were going to do their job plus more.
I was excited about playing that game and nothing was going to stop me, not even tearing a tendon in my finger. I remember when I had all that tape around my fingers and Coach Croom saw it that Monday and he was his doing his usually joking and said how I hurt my finger and I was going to have to miss the best game of the year. Everyone was laughing, but when no one was around he got serious and told me that, "I better not let that finger bother me because you are going to have to play." I told him not to worry because if you throw it to me I will catch it. Laughingly, he said, "Yeah, we probably need to tape up all your fingers so you can catch better."
I tore my middle finger tendon during the Tulane game and for Auburn game I had to get a mini cast on it. So, I had the middle and index fingers packed with tape for the game. It was hard to catch and to block, but I didn't care because I knew that I had two other players that were ready to get some more playing time. We were so competitive in playing that we challenged each other after the game to see whose game percentage was the highest, meaning who played the best.
Throughout my years I witnessed how our team got better and better. I know it didn't show up on the record board, but I know we did.
Last season I noticed one thing that everyone really started doing. Instead of playing the "Name" of a team, we just played the game. And one major thing that helped us was that we all watched film. Not saying that we didn't do it in the past because we did, it was just that it was stressed more last year. This helped out a lot because you knew how good of a person you were going up against. And when we found out that those players were no better than the players on our team, that's when we stop playing the "Name."
During the game we just felt victory. I still see images in my head from that game. I can still see Titus not wanting to go out of the game knowing even though he was dead tired. I can still see everyone's reaction after Derek (Pegues) intercepted the ball and ran it in for a touchdown. I can still see and feel that last play when Jamar Chaney knocked the ball out to secure our victory. I know it was an away game, but I can still see our fans going crazy after that victory like that was our stadium and we owned the whole state of Alabama. The feeling was just so great that we didn't want to ever stop feeling like that. We wanted to win every game!
So on that day we made up our minds that no one was going to take our joy from us. We were going to a bowl game that year. It didn't matter which one it was, we just knew that beating Auburn gave us a full head of steam on the road to a Bowl Game.
Jason Husband, a former Mississippi State football player, is a Mississippi State football columnist for GenesPage.com.