A Q&A with Robert Elliott

Freshman running back Robert Elliott rates his play in the Georgia Tech game, learning to make his reads, learning to block, etc.

How do you think you did in the first game where you got to run quite a bit?
"I feel like I did ok, but I felt like it was just an average game. But it was really my first game and I was just getting my feet wet. But I built a lot of confidence up from the game."

You did a little dance after scoring your touchdown against Georgia Tech. I don't see Robert Elliott being the type of player that does dances after scoring because you are kind of a low-key type person.
"Yeah, I'm a laid back, shy guy, but on the football field it's a whole different atmosphere. On the football field, Coach Croom always tells us to find someone that is doing things good and strive to be like them. When he had told us that, I thought about some people that I would like to be like. I looked up Deshawn Jackson and Percy Harvin, guys like that. I got that celebration from Deshawn Jackson."

Why do you think the offense isn't producing like the coaches and players hoped it would?
"The reason why the offense hasn't been clicking is because we have been having a lot of missed assignments. I probably had the most missed assignments out of everything. I had three missed assignments Saturday."

Why do you think you had the missed the assignments?
"It's the speed of the game. You get out there and you get into the game and don't see some things that are happening. Then, you remember them when they tell you you had a missed assignment. But the gamespeed is so much faster, you don't even see some things that are happening."

Did you have your missed assignments early or late in the game?
"Late in the game."

Really, I would have expected you to say early, not late. Why late?
"Late in the game you get tired and your brain starts dying on you."

Why do you think you got tired - maybe due to the adrenalin flowing so high due to it being the first game where you played a lot?
"Yes sir, that's all it was, the adrenalin."

I believe the reason you haven't been playing much is your blocking. Am I correct in saying that?
"Yes sir."

On a scale of 1 to 10 what would you rate your blocking?
"I would probably be a 6.5 right now."

That's not too bad. What has caused you to become a better blocker?
"What I have realized is blocking is about who wants it the most, who is going to get after it the most. And another reason I couldn't block well was because I wasn't strong enough. Now, every time I lift I am doing things that will help me on my pass protection, things like squats, bench presses, punches. And I was using the wrong technique in blocking."

Where do you rate yourself as a runner?
"I would probably be at a 7."

That's barely better than your blocking. I would have expected higher.
"I said a seven because sometimes I don't make the right reads. Because of that, I give myself a seven right now."

Why is it so difficult to make the correct read?
"You probably have a split second to make your reads. And with your reads you are looking at the first down lineman. If he bumps over to your hole you have to cut it back behind him. If he slashes down your hole will be right there. And you only have a split second to make that decision. If you look the wrong way or look down at the ball to see if you have it you have completely missed your read. And that is a busted play."

So you can't even make sure you have the ball placed correctly?
"You have to trust the quarterback to put the ball in your pocket because you are doing your reads."

Do you always have a primary hole you are looking to run through. And if that clogs up are you supposed to know where the secondary hole is?
"Really, on all our running plays you don't really have a designed hole to go to. You just have a certain person you watch - the first down lineman - and wherever he goes you pretty much have to go the opposite way."

What do you mean by the first down lineman?
"What I mean by that is the first defensive lineman that is called to the play side. For instance, if we are going to the four hole side the first defensive lineman on that side is the one we read and who we make our cuts off of."

Coming in last year as a true freshman did you have any concept about making that kind of read?
"Oh yes sir, being a runner you know where your holes are. It's basically just running away from different people. But in high school you just ran. Now you have to make reads."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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