"The biggest thing we need to improve on is learning how to practice every day. The kids are now understanding what kind of effort it takes on a daily basis to go out and play good on Saturday. They now know you have to practice hard thoughout the week. You have to set a high tempo during the week so that the games appear to slow down. You want practice to be at a frantic pace. That is something that we continue to try and improve on. I really think that they are really improving at it."
Linebacker Clarence McDougal mentioned to one of the veterans that he didn't realize how fast the game was going to be until he played against Oregon. You have a player, Otis Riddley, a redshirt freshman, who was in the same situation as Clarence, he had never played in a college game before. How did he handle the speed of the game?
"I'm sure each time you get out there the more you get used to it. There is no replacement for experience. The only way to get experience is to go out there and play. With each game that Otis gets under his belt and that Will (Rogers) gets under his belt as a starter, they will become more and more experienced. With experience comes a certain amount of confidence. That specialness that develops on an offensive line, you have to go through the battles and the games in order to have that. With each opportunity they get, the game will slow down a bit."
Coach Sherrill said some good things about Will Rogers' play in practice last week. Are you feeling more comfortable with him and Otis as your starters as you see them play more and more?
"Will's great effort in practice is how he has put himself in a position to be a starter. He has worked tremendously hard to earn it.
"Whomever we line up out there is going to have a chance to win for us. Right now, that is Otis and Will at the guard positions. I have complete confidence in both of those guys. I have been very proud of their effort. I have been very pleased with how well they have picked things up. Are we anywhere close to being where we are going to be? No, but the only way to get there is to go through certain steps."
Do you think Donovan Davis, now playing at guard in practice, will be able to help you during the Tulane game?
"It is still too early in the week to know for sure. The good thing about Donovan is he is at a stage where he can make some rapid progress. I'm hoping it's not a situation where he has peaked out. If he progresses (Tuesday), Wednesday and Thursday in practice, he will definitely have a chance to contribute on Saturday. However, how much he picks up over the next three or four days will determine how much playing time he receives."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.