"The workouts have been pretty intense because we are working harder than we ever have been. (Head strength) Coach (Matt) Balis is a great strength coach, probably the best in the country. And I'm glad that he chose to come to Mississippi State and help us out. We are learning a lot under him in the weight room and out of the weight room. That will help us a lot when training camp comes."
What were your first impressions when you first met Coach Balis?
"The first time I saw and heard Coach Balis I pretty much knew that he was the real deal."
You said he's probably the best strength coach in the country. What separates him from the rest?
"He pretty much just knows what to do in all situations. Even when someone might get hurt he would know what to do. We know we can always expect him to know what is best for us as far as strength and conditioning."
I understand what you are saying. But when he first told you at 5 am in the morning that all of you were going to run the stadium steps twice, did you still believe he knew what he was talking about? (laugh)
"(Laugh). I don't think anybody would expect anything after hearing that but we did a pretty good job, especially the offensive linemen."
Was it every man for himself or did you guys help each other when it got really tough?
"Believe me, those steps weren't easy but everybody made it.
It basically started out as every man for himself, but after we got going that was when we became a team and we tried to finish as a unit and make sure everybody finished."
Was there any time during the stadium run when you didn't believe you would make it?
"Basically, I never had that thought because I knew that Coach Balis put me and all my teammates in a position so that we could complete any task that he puts in front of us. He knows what we can become and he's going to make sure we reach that goal."
When you touched that last step, what were your thoughts?
"I was thinking, Thank God. I know that most people will think that's an impossible feat and some of us probably thought the same thing but we conquered it. Now, we know there is nothing that we are incapable of and noting is going to stop us."
How will workouts like that help you during the season?
"One thing that we have improved on the most is our mental aspect of the game because we have been working on that ever since they got here. And that will help us out a lot on the field. Of course it is a physical game but is it also important to be mentally capable."
Do you believe your offense will be better? If so, why?
"I KNOW the offense is going to be better. Why I say that is because we are a different team this team. I think all of our positions are going to be good this year because all of us have been working pretty hard. And I know our offensive line has stepped up. Our quarterbacks have been great leaders so far. Our running backs are very good. Our wide receivers are phenomenal. (Wide receiver) Brandon McRae has been working hard to get to the top of his game after suffering an injury in the last game of last year. And I think we are going to be deep at every position.
"And we have out goals set, which is the first thing you need. We are going to work harder than any other team in the country. And we are going to go out on the field and try our best to win and put the points on the board."
Have any of the freshmen really stood out in the workouts?
"All the freshmen might have come in not knowing what to expect, but I think they have all dealt with things pretty well. I think they have completed everything (in the workouts).
"Sam Watts has been here a while and he has done well so far. Tyler Russell has also done well. Chad Bumphis is pretty good; he's a hotrod. He can run and get the ball anywhere you throw it. He's been working pretty hard this month. And he's been completing all of his times, so we know we can count on him."
What have you seen from Tyler that you like?
"I've gotten to know him a good bit and he's a pretty good guy. I think he is going to shake out to be a pretty good quarterback. I see him as fearless and a leader."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.