Jackie Sherrill's October 1st Press Conference


Posted Oct 2, 2002


Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talked to the media Tuesday about the upcoming Mississippi State-South Carolina football game in Columbia, South Carolina.

Opening comments by Coach Sherrill.

"The players who will probably not play this week. We have one player who will be out the rest of the year, Chris McNeil. A young man who had a very similar injury to the one that David Heard had. What happens is kind of like you roll your big toe under and it kind of flattens or separates your arch. You have to pin it and have no weight-bearing."

"We have a couple of other players who are banged up. I don't know if (Rico) Bennett will be ready to play this week. Mario Haggan will play. He will miss some practice this week. We hope we can get Nick Turner on the practice field today or tomorrow. He has a ankle (injury)."

"We've had two physical games and this will be the third one in a row. You have to cross your fingers and hope you don't lose anybody."

"Chris (McNeil) was able to play both guard (positions) and center, so it gave us the (opportunity) to rest the center and guards. Early in the game, we lost Chris and (Donald) Tucker, therefore, we had some freshmen in - (Richard) Burch played the whole game. Also, we couldn't rest our center or guard. That is something that we really need to look at. (David) Stewart doesn't need any rest. He can play the whole game. One (player) that played very hard and very well was (Blake) Jones, but we need to rest him some. But it looks like he is not going to have that luxury for a while."

"With South Carolina you have to circle (the names) of two players. Offensively, they are going to put the ball in Corey Jenkins' hands. Last week, playing Vanderbilt, he had the ball in his hands 40 of the 70 snaps, either running or throwing it. They will call his number. You are going to have to make sure you tackle him. They will allow him to do things on his own. They will run a lot of draws, run the option and also sprint him out. Defensively, probably the best defensive lineman in the league right now is Langston Moore. He is a dominating player. Georgia didn't block him. Other people haven't blocked him. He has really played well. One of their safeties, Rashad Faison, is also a very good player."

"Defensively, they are a copy of our defense. In the 2000 season they changed their offense to Clemson's offense and their defense to our (type) defense. They are doing a lot with it. They are doing a lot of two-deep looks out of it. Offensively, they still do the shotgun and they are still three-wide (at times)."


Questions for Coach Sherrill.

Is there anything you can do to curb the penalties?
"If you look at penalties we have 37 (total penalties for the year). There are a lot of people in the league with 30, 34 and 35, but the penalties at the wrong time are the ones that really hurt you. We had three penalties in the kicking game. The one penalty running into the punter, should not have been there. The other penalty of offsides on the field goal should not have been there because of the snapper moving the ball. So you have to take those away. The penalty right before the half where we punt, that is one that should not have been. That is one of those silly penalties. Offensively, we had the offsides by Justing Jenkins. We should have not had that. Defensively, we had one. Out of the eight penalties, three of them should not have been called. Out of the five others, two of them were offsides and one was a silly penalty." (MSU is last in total yards penalized per game, 77.2. Kentucky is next with 74.6 with Tennessee next at 71.8.-Gene)

Can you work on penalties in practice?
"We have an official at practice, but we aren't getting a lot of penalties. You aren't going to get a game with zero penalties. If you do, then the official is looking the other way."

Talk about the punting of Jared Cook.
"He punted well except for two. The first one he kicked 40 (yards), but that was after the bounce. If we had covered it right, then he would have not fielded it. After the first two, Jared punted well. (Kicker Brent) Smith kicked well. The footing on the field was not very good for a kicker or punter. Even though the grass was dry the surface wasn't. The problem that LSU has is when the water table rises, the water is not going anywhere because they are near sea level. The water just sets there. The field was very, very soft and slippery."

Talk about Kevin Fant's performance Saturday night.
"He did not play well based on what he can do. He was probably over anxious and was probably pressing at times. The first pass the ball was high. A couple of others he overthrew. He needs to relax and play better. There is no reason Kevin shouldn't be a 60% completion guy. The last part of last year, his completion was 64.9%. The best thing he does is get us in the right checks.

"In practice last week we threw the ball well. On Monday, we probably had our best day ever throwing the ball."

South Carolina has a lot of players out or questionable. Will that change your gameplan?
"We will still have the same package, but what you are going to have to stop is the quarterback. They are going to put the ball in Corey (Jenkins) hands. You will have to stop their quarterback."

With Chris McNeil out, who will you play at right guard?
"We will play Donald (Tucker) at left tackle and right guard. Richard Burch will play a lot. But that was our plans all along, to play him and eventually start him anyway. Now, we have to do that quicker. Also, Brad Weathers will have to play more, although (Johnny) Wadley has come along. We will also get some help with Michael Allen getting healthy and playing. We will also have Will Rogers. He played Saturday. We were going to try and redshirt Manuel Dickson at center, but we may not be able to now."

Talk a little about (true freshman offensive tackle) Richard Burch.
"Like all freshmen, there are going to be a lot of (new) things thrown at you every (game). You can prepare him and practice him, but it is not the same as the snaps on gameday. It is different look."

Where have the major improvements been in the three games against major competition?
"There has been a lot of improvement other than playing a whole game. We haven't played a full 60 minutes yet. We have played 2 and 3 quarters at a time, but haven't played 60 minutes. Consistency has also not been good."

What do you tell the players about their play?
"They are a lot more resilient and intelligent than they are given credit for. They don't have to read the newspapers to know how they played. They don't have to watch film to know how they played. When a kid comes off the field, he knows how he played. They know if they didn't make the play, they know if they were either out of position or if they missed a tackle or missed a block."


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


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