Coaches caution Relf: Forget about last year

STARKVILLE – It’s time to put last season behind.
That goes for Mississippi State, and in particular for Chris Relf. That’s what the coaches have been stressing as the 2011 season opener at Memphis fast approaches.
“When you talk about last year, that was last year’s team,” offensive coordinator Les Koenning said at Monday’s press conference. “This year’s team has to understand that they’re responsible for what they do, and not rest on the laurels of last year.”
MSU, ranked No. 20 this preseason, went 9-4 and won the Gator Bowl in 2010. Relf, the senior quarterback, played a huge role in that success. He passed for 1,789 yards and 13 touchdowns and added 713 yards and five TDs on the ground.
With LSU’s Jordan Jefferson being suspended for his team’s opener, Relf will be the only returning starter for an SEC Western Division team on the field this weekend.
He’s already received a good bit of offseason hype, and now’s time to make good on it.
“It’s the same thing I tell Chris: What you did last year is what you did last year,” Koenning said. “This year is what they’ll evaluate you on this year.”
Relf finished the 2010 season strong and will try to pick up where he left off against a Memphis team that went 1-11 last season. It’s a Thursday night game at the Liberty Bowl and will give Relf the chance to make a strong early impression.
Stepping into a class of elite quarterback is not on his mind. Coach Dan Mullen said Relf is too honed in on daily improvement to consider such abstracts.
“One of the things Chris understands is how he got to where he is now is he took those steps to continually improve,” Mullen said. “He bought into the program and what we asked him to do. He’s seen incredible improvement over the last two years. He still understands that from where he wants to got, he still got a ways to go.”
brad.locke@journalinc.com

Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal