From The Locker Room

The 2004 saeason was a disappointment to each and every player, but there was no way they were going to make it worse by losing to their biggest rival and let this year's seniors have to live with that the rest of the days.

The following are player quotes after the 20-3 victory over Mississippi State in the annual Egg Bowl clash yesterday.

FB Lorenzo Townsend: (On the season and the win) Coach (David) Cutcliffe always talks about leaving a place better than you found it. It has been a very frustrating year for us individually and as a team, but what better way to end it than to take out some of that frustration on Mississippi State? It was a great win for us as seniors. We will still have a bitter taste about the season, but a sweet taste about the last time we suited up for Ole Miss. . . We knew the more physical team was going to win the game and we were the more physical team. We could tell we were wearing them down - they started dropping their heads and having little arguments between themselves. We had them right where we wanted them and we just kept pounding away. We went into the game with a more open gameplan, but once we saw our OL was going to handle them up front, we honed down and went right at them. . . (On the 98-yard drive for a 17-3 lead) It was the nail in the nail in the coffin. We haven't been able to sustain much offensively this year - our consistency was poor. But today, and particularly in that drive, we came together as one unit. We really put it together on that drive and don't think we threw the ball but once, and that was to me on a short swing pass. (On advising the younger players) It's all about discipline. We had way too many penalties this year and repeatedly shot ourselves in the foot. Everything we did this year is correctable, we just took too long to correct it. Most teams in this league are fairly even talent-wise. It's the teams who play with discipline and as a unit and with focus who win. We had that last year, but lost our edge early this year and never got it completely back. I know it was frustrating for our coaches because it was frustrating for us, but we never could seem to get it completely right this year until today. We had moments, but moments don't win games.

TE Lawrence Lilly: (On his TD catch) We've been practicing that short pass all week, expecting man coverage in hat situation. That was great scouting by our coaches. When I got man coverage, I knew I could shield the defender from the ball and get some separation with my bigger body. Robert (Lane) threw a perfect ball and it was six. The ball came loose when I crossed the line, but I caught it. It's in the books. (On the win) This victory feels good because these seniors deserve it. As underclassmen we are very happy to send the seniors off with a victory because they helped build everything you see here. They helped win a lot of games at this school and they didn't need to go out with a loss in their final outing. . . This has been an up-and-down season for us. If you play competitive sports long enough, you realize things like this happen, but you can't quit or hang your head. We went into every game thinking we were going to win. We will go into every game next year thinking we are going to win. We will be full steam ahead toward that goal after the Christmas break. (On the tight end being more involved in the passing game) We are offensive players who want the ball in our hands, but it didn't work that way much this year. We were in the gameplan, but things didn't unfold too much for us in the passing game. Again, if you play long enough, you will encounter times like this and you just have to roll with them.

DT Michael Bozeman: (On the game and the DL effort) We knew going in that the MSU line wasn't the best we have seen. We just took advantage of their weaknesses and played hard for our seniors. That's what it was all about today. We didn't have a good season, but we still have our pride and wanted our senior leaders to go out with a win over Mississippi State. We didn't leave much doubt out there today.

QB Robert Lane: (On the keys to the win) I think we just had fun. At times this year we were playing under a little bit of pressure. Today we just went out and had fun. We played like the game is supposed to be played. We were able to run the football on them effectively and that was that. In this league, once you establish your running game, you are hard to deal with. (On next year and the QB situation) There are three good QBs on this team with Ethan (Flatt), Micheal (Spurlock) and me. We'll have a tough spring of competition and see where that leads us. It will be up to the coaches, but whatever is best for the team is what all three of us are pulling for. (On the speculation of new coaches) That has not affected our preparation at all. We block things out we have no control over. Our only focus has been to try to win. We expect our coaches to be back next year. To me, you can't blame one thing that's happened this year on the coaches - it's been a lack of execution by us. Our plans have been solid and we've been put in position to make plays. It's our jobs to make them. (On his 97 yards rushing) Things just opened up and I took off. I was looking to move the chains. If I have to lower my shoulder to do that, that's what I do. I got a good feel for the game and got in a rhythm. It felt good. We felt we could pound it on them a little bit and it's a good thing we could because it was tough throwing the ball today - windy, rainy and cold. We owe the running game to the OL. They were dominant today. They were fired up the whole day, especially in the 98-yard drive. (On his game and the future) I have to improve my passing game and the timing with the receivers. That's something you establish in the spring and summer. I also have to improve my knowledge of the game and react quicker in my reads. I feel I'm holding the ball too long when I make my reads. I'm going to do whatever it takes to win. If it's run the ball, I'll run it. If it's pass the ball, I'll pass it.

DE Brandon Jenkins: (On the defensive game versus MSU) We finally came together as a defense. It was a good day for the seniors. This was a team win for us today. I told (DE) Cory Robinson, who is a senior, that I was going to play this one for him. I told him he was going to get all I had today and that I would not let up until we got the win. (On his QB sack) We had a good call on that play. We knew MSU liked to roll (Omar) Conner to the right. I read him rolling and tracked him down. I had him in my grasp and wasn't about to let go until he was on the ground. (On stopping Jerious Norwood) We know how good he is. Our goal was to never let him get started and to keep him from getting in a rhythm. We never let him get out of the blocks. He was a sprinter stuck in the blocks today. Once you let a back like him get going, it's going to be a long day. We found that out last week with (Allie) Broussard at LSU. Stop them early and take their stinger away. That's what we did with Norwood. (On his first year playing) What I learned the most was that you have to keep your confidence level high. I let mine get low in the early part of the season. As the season wore on, I started learning more techniques and how to apply them in games. I got my confidence back and started playing OK. I still have a long way to go, but I think next year will be a good year for me.

OG Marcus Johnson: (On his future in the NFL) I don't really want to get my hopes up right now. I will hope for the best but expect the worst, so to speak. All the projections about me are just that - projections. They don't mean much until draft day. (On the team's focus) We were tired of what has been happening this year. I really think this was the first time we have played as 80 people with one goal this year. I don't know why it took us this long, but I am glad it came together today. We dominated on offense, defense and special teams. I know the talent level on this team and I'm sad we didn't go out with a winning season. We have no excuses, but for me today erases some of that. I will take this game with me for the rest of my life. (On his last game as a Rebel) We had our Bible study last night and it hit me how much I am going to miss all these guys. I shed some tears last night - it hit me hard. I'm going to miss going to war with these guys. I'm sure these guys who are coming back are going to take care of their business and get it done. They are too good not to. Ole Miss has meant a lot to me, but the guys on this team are my brothers.

DT McKinley Boykin: (On stopping Norwood) He's a good back, but when we execute, we can stop anyone. For just about the first time this year, we executed what the coaches gave us. We were single-minded today - attack and overpower. We wanted to make the game physical. We made up our minds and got it done. We did a good job of containing their QB too. He's pretty slippery, but when we caved in their OL, it was over for him too. (On the offseason) We are going to have to buckle down. Last year, I think we slipped up on some people at times. This year, we were targeted and didn't handle it very well. Our focus will be on handling things better. (On him being a senior leader next year) Michael Bozeman and I will be the seniors at DT. The coaches are already getting us prepared to be leaders. We intend to do our best.

FS Eric Oliver: (On the coaching staff) I hope they are all here next year. I love them all as people and as coaches. They are good for Ole Miss and good for the players. They teach us things we can take with us for the rest of our lives and be successful. (On the game) This was the best we played all year. We gave up two big plays - on run by Fred Reid and a long completion - but Travis (Johnson) forced a fumble at the end of the long completion so that washed out. If we had made a play on that long run, which we should have, we would have had a shutout. (On his last game) I saw a lot of love for us (seniors) today and we love them (underclassmen). I appreciate everything they have done for us. We didn't have a good year this year, but this program has come a long way since I have been here. I think the future is bright for this program. The coaches have some gaps to fill in recruiting, but they have a chance to be awesome next year. All they have to do is keep on working.

LB Patrick Willis: (On his play) We blitzed a lot today and worked hard on getting to the quarterback and containing their running backs. Once we got their running backs bottled up, we went after the quarterback. The offense gave us a lead, so we felt MSU would have to go to the passing game. By then, it was basically over. We had them figured out and scouted well. (On the game) We wanted to win this one for the seniors and to get a good taste in our mouths to help motivate us during the offseason. We needed a boost and we got one today. Basically, we played with good fundamentals. We tackled well, we executed our fits well and we pursued the ball all day. Everyone did their part today and there were very few breakdowns. We gave up one long run and one long pass and that was it. (On the season) It was frustrating, but at least we ended it well. We played as hard as we could at Baton Rouge and today and that's what we'll take with us. In the middle of the year, we lost our confidence a little and that's all it takes in this league. You can't be a little off and expect to win against the people we face week in and week out. While the season was a disappointment, one thing that sticks with me is that we never threw in the towel as a team. We got down on ourselves at times, especially at Arkansas, but we didn't quit. That says something for the makeup of this program.

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