Several Mississippi State players talked about their season-opener loss to Oregon.

Pictured: Kevin Fant
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MSU Players Talked About Their Loss to Oregon

MSU Players Talked About Their Loss to Oregon

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/01players/football/2003/fantk-action.jpg" align="left" width="120" height="164"> Several Mississippi State players talked about their season-opener loss to Oregon.<P> <h6>Pictured: Kevin Fant</h6>

Quarterback Kevin Fant

Can you explain why it took the offense so long to get started?
"Anytime you turn the ball over early, that gives the other team a lot of confidence. They scored early, then we give it right back to them. That didn't help things out. They just got the momentum. It just took us some time to get it back."

For the first game, you have to feel good about some things you guys got done?
"The offensive line, being young, held up against a strong front. We had a few breakdowns toward the end of the game."

Do you just forget the score when it goes to 28-0 and just think to yourselves that it's really 0-0?
"We try to think of it as play by play, just like in practice. When you call a play, you just concentrate on that play."

Do you see the positives after this loss to Oregon?
"Although you have your positive points, nothing is positive about losing. We will look at the film tomorrow and we'll see the good things that we did and that will help us out. Then, we'll concentrate that we are good at and get better at. Things that we are slack in, we'll keep working hard on them."

You seem to get emotional after the game. Did this game mean a lot to you?
"There is not certain game. I just like to win. This team doesn't like to lose. We are just trying to get back to going. Losing is terrible. What more can you say?"

Talk about the job your receivers did tonight.
"They made some great plays. Justin Jenkins catching that fade was a great play. McKinley Scott making the catch in the endzone and getting his feet down was a great play. He is a great talent. Since fall practice started, they are improving each day. They are helping to get all the young guys really to play."

How much of your offensive package did you show tonight? I know you didn't show all of your running game because you fell behind so far, but you showed a lot of your passing game.
"We showed a lot, but we stuck to the things that worked. We had some bright points in our running game. If we can get that going and not get so far behind, Nick Turner and the other backs will show a lot of things."

On the deep route to Nick Turner did you just not get enough air under the ball?
"I had a little pressure from the right side and I didn't set my feet and kind of threw off my back foot. I wish I could take it back because Nick had him beat and that was against number 16, their best defensive back. He played great and made a play. I just wish I could have put 5 more feet on it."

You had to pass on the run a lot tonight.
"That's part of football. This game is a physical sport. The guys they had up front, you aren't going to win every battle."

Your offense scored 34 points during the final three quarters after not scoring no points in the first half. Did it take that long to get used to Coach Watts offense or was it something that they were doing that you adjusted?
"My personal opinion is we just started off a little slow. That turnover really hurt. Anytime a good team like Oregon gets the momentum going at the start of the game, you are going to have to battle back. We fought hard. You have to give it to the young guys. They fought hard."

What was the turning point that got the offense going?
"You have to have a guy make a great play to get you going. Justin (Jenkins) took the ball from a guy. Things like that get you going. When you get that enthusiasm going, it is hard for the other team to get it back if you are a good football team."

How do you think you did individually? If you graded yourself, what grade would you give yourself?
"Not good enough. I don't grade myself. I just like to win."

How do you think the offensive line did tonight?
"I think they fought hard. During the second quarter, I had plenty of time. We had some breakdowns around the fourth quarter. Heck, they aren't perfect. I missed passes; they missed blocks."

It looks like this offense has a chance to be a powerful offense. You scored 34 points in three quarters against a good Oregon defense.
"Coach Watts' offense is great. I wish I had another year to play under it. We haven't even begun to throw everything that we have. Coach Watts has an answer to everything. He has been coaching right at 40 years. He is a really smart guy and is laid back. I love being in this offense."


Running Back Nick Turner

How frustrating was it to look up at the scoreboard and see how far you got behind in the first quarter?
"It was kind of hard but we played through it. Everybody still had a feeling that we could win. And we produced by making some big plays."

Was there no doubt in your mind that you could come back and compete?
"We had no doubt. During practice, we play until the end. And we played to the last in this game."

Do you wish that you didn't have an off-week this weekend?
"Yes, but we need to get our legs back and get our minds back. It will be a good week for learning and getting our minds back."

What do you think the status of the running game is?
"We looked real good. Me and J-Rock (Jerious Norwood) made the right moves. The line made the correct blocks. We looked good, but we practice like that."

Are there some things that we didn't see from the running game tonight because you got so far behind in the first quarter?
"You didn't see all the running game. We have some more schemes and strategies that we can use."

When did you feel that you were back in the game?
"The time I scored. You saw everybody with a smile on their face and the crowd was back in it. We just knew that we were back."


Wide Receiver Justin Jenkins

How do you think the receivers did this game?
"I think we did a great job. We have been a great job all of two-a-days and the spring. We made some plays tonight that are good enough to win."

How do you think the offensive line did?
"I think they did a real good job. They gave Kevin a lot of time even though they gave up a few sacks. They could have laid down due to having a lot of people hurt but they picked it up. They earned a lot of respect from the Oregon defensive line. I can tell you that."

How good do you think this offense can be once you get more expierence and get the two starting guards back?
"I think the offense can be real good. We scored 34 points. You have to have some confidence. We are going into Tulane thinking that we can score points and we are."


Defensive End Jason Clark

You guys just didn't seem to be able to tackle some guys at times.
"Yeah, that is something that Coach Cooper is going to work on. We had a lot of young guys out there that were excited to be in their first game."

You got it back to 28-21, then they bring it back down and the fullback floats free for a touchdown.
"It was a missed assignment. This team gave us so many formations. They will probably be the hardest team that we will face as far as motion. But it was a good experience for guys."

What did you think about this MSU offense?
"I saw a lot of people stay hard into it. I saw a lot of people play with heart. They had some people hurt but I saw some tremendous things from this offense. They keep that up, we are going to get the things corrected on our end."

You guys didn't give up when you got behind big. Is that something you can take as a positive going into these next two weeks?
"Oh yeah, that is something that we can consider positive. Last year, we got behind big against Oregon last year and you could tell some guys lowered their head and didn't believe in themselves anymore. It was different this year. They got up big, but who would have thought that we would come back and be just a touchdown from tying the game up?"

What is your opinion of their offensive line?
"They were big and well-coached. But as far as strength, we were stronger. But they used great technique. When I say technique, what I mean is they knew how to hold you without getting called for holding."


Defensive Tackle Tommy Kelly

Was there anything their offensive line was doing against your defensive line?
"They have some tight splits. They were shoelace splits. They didn't have a gap between them."

Did it take some time to adjust to that?
"No, they kind of hit us outside. People have to come up and make some plays. Coach had us prepared for everything, but people have to pull the trigger at the right time."

Do you think it will be tough to go in Sunday and look at this film and see all the things that happened?
"It should be tough. You make good plays and bad plays. You should be able to accept it and put it behind you and not make the same mistake again."

Do you think a week off will be good for this team?
"I would like to play next week. I don't want a week off."

Do you think the way you came back after getting down 28-0 is a positive that you can build on?
"Yeah, in the past, a lot of people would have quit and tucked their head and ran. We have a lot of young players and they kept scratching. I told them I liked that.

"The problem we have is not somebody not hustling, but is youthful mistakes. Young corners and safeties are going to make mistakes. You learn from your mistakes."

I talked to Oregon's coach earlier. He said the difference in this State team and last year's State team is this one seems to have heart. Did you see that as well?
"Yeah. We got it to 28-21. I was thinking that this game is going to be on the ESPN Classic. We come back and win this thing we are going to be tv, Sports Center, everything. I'm mad we lost but I think we are going to be alright."


Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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