Thursday Bulldog Football Notebook

Mississippi State football players D.J. Looney, a sophomore center, Louis Watson, a redshirt freshman cornerback, and Nick Bell, a redshirt freshman defensive end explain the ramifications of the LSU heart-breaking loss and what they see in store for them this weekend against a tough Georgia Tech team.

PAINFUL LOSS THAT IS TOUGH TO LET GO: Mississippi State was just a matter of inches from defeating the No. 7 ranked LSU Tigers last Saturday. If you have checked my forums you see how painful it was for the fans. But that pain can't come close to what the Mississippi State players felt.

"It's a bitter pain that is in your heart, in your stomach," said sophomore center D.J. Looney. "We are physically sick. A lot of guys can't sleep. A lot of guys were throwing up. It hurts that bad. It hurts so freaking bad."

But the players aren't blaming one player or one play for the outcome. As D.J. said, it's a team game, hence a team loss.

"No one wants to fail and it's not one person's fault," said D.J. "It's everybody's fault. It's a team game. It's the players fault, the coaches fault, the staff's fault, the scout team's fault. We just didn't do enough from top to bottom to win the game."

As for learning from the loss, maybe you do, maybe you don't. Put D.J. in the maybe you don't category.

"You don't really learn anything, but the taste in your mouth, you never want to feel like that again," said D.J. "So, you work harder in practice, in the off-season. You do everything in your power to make sure it doesn't happen again whether it's me as a second-team center where I go out and work hard against the defense."

D.J. does know one thing that will ease the pain - defeating Georgia Tech this Saturday.

"The only thing that can make you feel better is to go out and beat Georgia Tech. Then, we won't be thinking about it."

PREPARING FOR GEORGIA TECH: Georgia Tech runs an offense that Mississippi State is not familiar with because no one in the SEC runs it. State played Georgia Tech last year and lost in a big way, 38-7. Georgia Tech rushed for 438 yards, the most by any team last season. In fact, the second most was by Ole Miss' 220. To keep that from happening again this year, the Mississippi State defensive linemen and linebackers are going to have to a much better job with their specific assignments.

"It's all about playing your gap, playing your key," said redshirt freshman defensive end Nick Bell. "You do that no matter what. You just keep doing what your job is."

And the Mississippi State coaches have done something very unique in practice to help them achieve that goal. At times, the scout team doesn't use a ball, which forces the players to focus on their assignment instead of watching the ball.

"The coaches really want you to focus on your assignment," said Nick. "They don't want you to be looking at the ball, they just want you to focus on your man and be discipline. That's what it's all about, being discipline."

Nick explained what his specific assignment will be against Georgia Tech.

"I'm either going to take the dive, take the running back or the quarterback," said Nick. "That depends on which side the strength call is. If the call is to my side, then I'm going to take the quarterback. Even if he pitches off, I have the quarterback no matter what. When you see him pitch you want to go make the tackle but you can't because he might fake the pitch and he would be running up the field for 80 yards and that would be on you."

The defensive backs also have their assignments that they have to follow to a tee.

"I will mainly have to focus on the receivers," said redshirt freshman cornerback Louis Watson. "We read the receiver first and get our keys off of him. Whatever he does we react to it. For us, it's more like let the people upfront play the run and we play the pass. We can't be looking in there for the run and they throw one over our head."

BEST FANS IN THE COUNTRY: Through the first two home games of the season, Mississippi State is averaging 53,922 fans per game, which is 97.89% of Davis Wade Stadium's capacity. And the fans have brought and rung their cowbells to both games. And the players have definitely noticed the electric atmosphere at DWS this season.

"We have great fans, the best fans in the country," said D.J. Looney. "And we could hear those cowbells. It's unbelievable. We have the greatest fans in the world. I want them to keep coming out and even more come out."

And, according to D.J., the MSU fans was the team's twelfth man during the LSU game.

"It was a big-time atmosphere, a big-time game with two great teams," said D.J. "The fans kept it exciting the whole ballgame. They never quit."

STATE ALSO HAS THE BEST VIDEO REPLAY BOARD IN THE NATION AS WELL: Mississippi State's new video replay board is the second biggest in the nation and the largest in the Southeastern Conference. It obviously enhances the game day for the fans, the Mississippi State players have enjoyed it just as much.

"There's not another one like it in the conference," said D.J. "It's beautiful. And everybody wants a stadium that is closed in. And it kind of gives you the horseshoe effect. And it packs in the noise. It definitely has enhanced the gameday experience as players. It's a big deal to us."

And while it's used by the fans as a source of entertainment during the game, the players and coaches use it for a different purpose.

"We use it a lot," said D.J. "After a play, if you want to see what happened, how they were lined up, if a play broke down, you can look up and watch the (instant replay). It's also good for the coaches. The offensive line coach can watch one side of the line during the play, then he can look up at the (video replay board) and watch the other side and see exactly what happened. It's an unbelievable tool, especially being as big as it is. It's so much bigger than the other one but the other one was also good to use."


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 swindoll@genespage.com.


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