The following are quotes from a few players and OC Dan Werner after the 20-17 Rebel win in the Egg Bowl yesterday.
MLB Patrick Willis: (On the game) Mississippi State got the best of us in the first half, but we were determined not to let that continue in the second half. We stopped their running attack in the second half and really had control of the game until they made a late comeback. We got a win we all wanted and needed badly. I know I did not want to end my Ole Miss career with a loss to MSU. I'll remember this one forever. (On his 13-tackle effort) It could have been better, but I give State credit. Their running game in the first half was clicking and we couldn't get a handle on it, but after we settled down in the second half, we did a nice job. (On playing DE on third-down situations) Coach O is always looking for a little edge. He thought Rory (Johnson) and I could get some edge pressure from DE. I worked on some pass rush techniques today with Coach O before the game and used one of them on the sack I got. That was a clean shot on Omar Conner and felt good. (On ending his career at Ole Miss) Ole Miss has been great to me. I grew up here. I will never forget it and will always be a Rebel. I wish we had won more games the last three years for the fans, but we gave it all we had and that's all you can do. I will miss it here, but it's my time to move on. I'm sure I will be coming back as much as I can.
DT Peria Jerry: (On his block that sprung Marshay Green for the game-winning punt return for a TD) I saw Marshay coming around the end where I was and I just picked someone out to hit. He was the first guy I saw. I was supposed to be holding up a player, but he got by me, so I jogged down the sideline, saw Marshay coming my way and zeroed in on a tackler. It was a good lick. (On the win) It was for the seniors. Everyone played hard all year for them, but we came up short most of the time. This is a good way for them to go out and I am happy for them. This is a great win for us because it is a lesson in learning how to win. We should have won a couple of more, but we didn't. This time we did and it was important because of that and because who we beat, our in-state rivals. We can build on this. (On his health) I'll be alright, but I'm just glad I'll have an opportunity to get healthy now. I never could get healthy this year playing on my foot, but I will get the chance now and I am excited about that. Next year, hopefully I will stay healthy and show everyone the real Peria Jerry.
LG Andrew Wicker: (On playing his last game) Well, it really hasn't hit me, but I know this - I'm 4-1 against State during my career and that feels good. And it feels doubly good that we got the last one of my career and the careers of the seniors on this team. They say this is the one you remember - your last game. I'm glad I have a win to remember. (On the running game) We couldn't get anything going because they stuck a lot of people in the box, which we expected, but we were able to get some timely passes on them and do enough to win the game. (On getting kicked out of the game) That was a selfish, stupid act on my part. Luckily, the defense held and they missed a field goal. We are happy. I could not believe I did that. Josh Shene came to me and told me it would be OK. Last week, when he missed a field goal, I consoled him, and I guess he thought I needed someone to say everything would be alright. I appreciated that. I screwed up, but my teammates stuck with me. (On BenJarvus Green-Ellis finishing at 999 yards on the year) Man, that's sad. That's the first I heard of that. That's tough. That was our goal as an OL and we missed it by a yard. I hate that for BenJarvus because he worked so hard and deserved that. (On the year) A lot of positives have come from this year. Patrick Willis and I talked a long time after the Wake Forest game and it kind of dawned on us how young and inexperienced the team was. We vowed then to do everything we could to lead them by example and help them develop for the future to the best of our ability. I think we did that. I think these young players are going to be special and I wish I was going to be here with them. (On the FG wide left to end the game) I know I will remember it forever.
OC Dan Werner: (On the MSU defense) They did a nice job. In the first half, we had four drives. The first one for a TD. The second one had a penalty that I didn't like the call, but it nailed us down deep in our territory. Then we had a nice drive that resulted in a field goal. Then we went three-and-out. In the second half, we just couldn't seem to get any momentum going. They loaded up the box and we took our shots deep that would have softened them up some, but we didn't connect. (On BJGE coming up a yard short of 1,000) That makes me sick. I wish I had known and I would have tried harder for him to get it, but I thought he had it. He has worked too hard and been too important to us for that to happen to him. My stomach is in knots over that. We will review the films of the year and see if those numbers are right. Surely there's a yard or two somewhere that was missed. The kid deserves it. I don't know what we would have done without him. (On the QB switch) We worked it all during the week - using both quarterbacks. We needed a spark on offense, like last week, and thought Seth might give us one, but we didn't get it. (On Brent's future) This was a tough year for him because we asked a lot of him coming in here so late, but now he's got a year under his belt and with a great offseason he can, and should, improve a lot. We didn't get what we wanted out of the QB slot, but we may have asked too much of that position, all things considered. Brent was overloaded. And it wasn't just him. We had young receivers who sometimes ran wrong routes or the protection would sometimes break down. There are a lot of things that went wrong - not just QB. We ran the ball decent this year. Now if we can develop a passing game and start using our play action package, we will have something. He's got to do a lot of studying on his own and a lot of drills on his own in the offseason. (On Greg Hardy's TD reception) That was a nice addition to the offense. A 6-5 guy with soft hands who can go get the ball is something we have missed. We could have easily scored three times on throws to him and did get one. (On the Ole Miss-MSU rivalry) I knew it was special, but I didn't know it was this special. When I ran out on the field after the game and saw all the emotion and guys hoisting the Golden Egg, it hit me pretty hard. It sent chills down my spine. I now understand the importance.
WR Marshay Green: (On his punt return) The last two games I have finally gotten adjusted to the speed of the game and SEC football. Mississippi State didn't kick me the ball much, but I knew if they did I had a chance to take it all the way. We were in punt safe on the one I returned. I caught it, went right, then cut left and there was a wall set up for me. I made the kicker miss and I was gone. I also got a great block from Peria. I didn't see it, but I sure heard it. He mauled that tackler. Mauled him. I'm pretty excited about scoring the game-winner. I was nervous at first because this was a big game for us, but by the time the TD return came around, I was feeling good about having a chance to change the outcome of the game with a good return. It worked beautifully thanks to my teammates making great blocks.
TE Lawrence Lilly: (On the outcome) Man, with all the tough times we had this year - coming so close and not winning - this one feels really good. To be able to say we won in my last game is special. I don't know if this is my last football game or not and I am soaking in this feeling. I know I will remember this feeling for a long time. In my career, we were 4-1 against State, so we can always take that throughout our lives. When I was walking down the tunnel after the game, I was really thinking about how much I can enjoy this in the end.
LB Rory Johnson: (On verbal exchanges with MSU and RB Anthony Dixon) It wasn't anything to it. We did a little jawing in the papers this week, but we know each other and when the game started, there was nothing to say. Just play. We knew if we stopped the run, we would win. We didn't stop him in the first half, but then we played harder and got tuned in on him in the second half. We knew what they were going to run, but we didn't do a good job in the first half. We buckled down in the second half and got the job done. (On playing some DE) I like it a lot because I can use my speed to rush and get around the corner.
DE/WR Greg Hardy: (On playing WR) I loved it. I've been asking the coaches to put me there some and today they did. The fade was there on the first one and I just outjumped the defender for the ball. I can use my height and jumping ability against DBs. I'm glad my number was called. I think that touchdown set the tone for the game. I hope the coaches will play me there more next year. I like dfensive end, but I can help the team at WR too, I believe. (On State's last drive) I was nervous. It caught us by surprise because they hadn't been throwing the ball much and then they went right down the field when we thought we had the game in hand. I think we let our guard down a little and they made it a game. (On Green's punt return) He's fast and he's quick, but what makes Marshay dangerous is that he is bold. He's fearless. If he sees an opening, he's going to go for it. He does not like to fair catch the ball. (On the year) We never got discouraged, too much, when we lost all those close games. We all know we are a young team. It's no surprise to me that we kept coming back stronger and stronger until we finally won one of these close ones. We expected to win one if we kept knocking on the door.
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