Orange Bowl Q&A with Jay Hughes

Jay HughesMississippi State senior safety Jay Hughes fielded questions from the media on Monday in advance of the Bulldogs appearance in the Orange Bowl.

The following is a transcript of what Hughes had to say…

Q. Jay, senior season, I’m going to ask you probably the most important question anybody has had to ask you. In all your years at Mississippi State, who’s been the guy on the team that’s easiest to intercept in practice?

JAY HUGHES: Tyler Russell.

Q. Why is that?

JAY HUGHES: I mean, he’s just — in practice you can get — I guess you can get bored with repetition. Playing my position, it’s kind of easy to read the quarterback’s eyes and see the ball.

Q. You talked about your position and watching the quarterback. Let’s talk a little bit about Georgia Tech, getting ready to play them in the Orange Bowl. What’s that offense like? It’s interesting in that they run the ball so much but on your end of things, when they do pass you’ve got to be prepared because they’re pretty efficient.

JAY HUGHES: Yeah, they can lure you to sleep by the run game. You’re so worried about playing your assignments, it’s all assignment football, so it’s really all about how disciplined you are on the back end. It’s a difficult offense to stop, so we’re definitely going to have to come ready to tackle.

Q. How has the bowl week been? Are you having fun?

JAY HUGHES: Yeah, we’re having fun. The weather has been great, good, hot and moist, so

I think humid is the word you’re looking for.

JAY HUGHES: Yeah, I like moist.

Q. I’m not such a fan, but I’m not here to judge you and tell you what to do.

JAY HUGHES: Appreciate it, man. We’ve had a lot of fun. We’ve had a whole lot of fun. On the good side of things and on the bad side, we’ve just got to stay focused on the task at hand because we’re here to win a game. That’s one thing I think is the most important thing. That’s the ultimate fun.

Q. You’re a Mississippi kid, right, born and raised?


Q. What’s been the most interesting thing you’ve seen since you’ve been here? I’m guessing this is your first time to South Florida?

JAY HUGHES: Yeah. The most interesting thing, it’s so diverse. There’s so many different languages and so many different people, and in Mississippi we don’t see that every day. It’s been a good atmosphere, man. The Orange Bowl, everything has been cool.

Q. What was the highlight, the neatest place you’ve been?

JAY HUGHES: Man, there was some places, man, we went walking on the strip. I guess it was Ocean Drive.

Q. Walking on the strip in South Beach?

JAY HUGHES: Yeah, walking down the strip, man. That’s the most interesting thing I’ve seen, man, and the night life down there is amazing.

Q. Any good clubs, any good parties?

JAY HUGHES: Man, we passed by some clubs. We didn’t go in, but we wanted to.

Q. Part of what I’m writing about, too, is just the maturation of this program, the growth. You were here from the ground up, part of Coach (Dan) Mullen’s first class. How did he convince you to come here?

JAY HUGHES: Well, his most interesting recruiting pitch to me was he just told me, okay, you’re from Mississippi, you’ve got a great chance to represent your state. I really took pride in that, and I just — every day I’d just go out, we’ve got this thing called grounded from my state, so we do everything for the state. We feel like we’re the best team in our state.

Q. Were you a Bulldogs fan growing up?

JAY HUGHES: I wouldn’t say I was a bulldog fan because my dad (Tony Hughes) is on staff and he’s actually my position coach. I wouldn’t say I was a bulldog fan because he’s coached at many places so it depends on where he coached at.

Q. As a kid where did he coach?

JAY HUGHES: Well, he coached at Louisiana Tech, he coached at our arch rival school, the school up north, he coached at Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech.

Q. So you rooted where your dad went?

JAY HUGHES: Pretty much, so I really don’t have a home.

Q. But you guys have made this thing pretty special.


Q. I was reading you guys’ clippings for this week. People talk about Stark Vegas and how the whole definition of that has changed. Do you remember what it was like when you went there and people said Stark Vegas? Did it have a negative connotation?

JAY HUGHES: Yeah, I mean, it didn’t have a negative connotation, but it kind of didn’t — I mean, it was just Stark Vegas, but now it’s like Vegas baby, Vegas baby, yes. It kind of changed, and this season really helped the community and the state out as far as recognition.

Q. You guys have it on your uniforms, right?

JAY HUGHES: Yeah, well, it’s on tee shirts.

Q. You guys don’t have it on your cleats and stuff like that?

JAY HUGHES: Only the cool guys like those guys down there (Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson) get those cleats. I don’t get those cleats.

Q. Dak and Josh get those?


Q. Talk a little bit about Georgia Tech.

JAY HUGHES: It’s all assignment football, man. It’s all assignment football. You know, you’ve got to really be disciplined and you’ve got to play with good eyes. I mean, it’s really all going to boil down to who’s going to make the first mistake, who’s going to make plays, who’s going to carry out their assignments well.

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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