One on One With Head Coach Sylvester Croom

Gene's Page talked one on one with Mississippi State head football coach Sylvester Croom.

Can you tell the media and fans everything you think about your team?
"No, I can't say everything. I know fans want me to explain about players, but I can never put our players in a negative light. Sometimes, the effort may be good, but they may not be performing as we need them to perform. And it could be for a number of different reasons.

"While I'm never going to put our players in a negative light, at the same time when I'm asked what is going on, I try to be as open as I can. But I've learned two things - I'm not going to put our players in a negative light and I try not to make comments that would sound as if I'm making excuses."

Do you think anything is broken?
"No, I don't think anything is broken at all. We developed ourselves into a good football team last year. What we did as coaches was we did what we had to do to give our players a chance to win.

"This year, from a schemes standpoint, we went into the season with the idea that we really wanted to open up the offense. I went to visit Michigan and we had some coaches go to Oklahoma. And we took some things from both of those programs that we felt like would really, really help us. And they have helped us. Patterns are open. From a schemes standpoint I wouldn't do anything different."

And you now have the leading receiver in the SEC in Brandon McRae.
"And believe me we have missed a lot of chances in the passing game. From a schemes standpoint, it is better than it has ever been since we have been here. We added some concepts and deleted some others. That's why it's so frustrating. We know what we are doing is right, but we are not getting the point results and the win results that I feel like we should be getting."

Do you think maybe the players simply can't execute what you are trying to do on offense?
"No, because what we are now doing is simpler, but now I hate to even say they aren't executing because people interpret that as if I'm blaming the players.

"This is what we have done. When you put in plays you put them in during the spring. And you work them every single day. You come back to camp and you do the same plays over and over and over again. Because of that, there are no excuses for not doing things right. That's why I'm not going to say they are not executing again. I'm just going to answer the question by simply saying blame me."

Your offense hasn't been in the upper half of offenses, nationally, since you have been here. Do you think there is something that you really need to look at during the offseason and then possibly make some major adjustments?
"I've looked at everything already. That's what people don't understand. I get questions about us running the West Coast Offense all the time. But we haven't run the West Coast Offense since the first year we were here. When was the last time you heard me say we are running the West Coast Offense? You haven't."

That's true. But what are you running now?
"We are running what our players can run. We still have a couple of the West Coast Offense concepts - one or two of the concepts. But a lot of stuff we got from Michigan is the same stuff that West Virginia runs. Those things give us a chance to spread people out and run, basically, a spread concept at times."

How much of the spread do you run?
"We run parts of it, but we can't totally go to it because we still have to run Anthony Dixon. And he's not a spread running back."

Are Robert Elliott and Wade Bonner spread offense type running backs?
"Yes. Why I did it is because of them. When they are on the field, they can't do everything that AD can do. And we are not good enough throwing the ball in our base set to continue to do some of the things that I want to do. So, we've had to change some things."

Do you think you have all the parts that you need to be a really good offense or do you think that you are still in the process of developing that?
"We are still in the process of developing that."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by email at

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