Changes on defense? They're likely, but Sherrill remains mum

BY GREGG ELLIS
Daily Journal

After giving up 556 yards of total offense and 42 points to Oregon last Saturday in the season opener, Mississippi State will make a few personnel changes for its next game against Tulane.

However, 13th-year coach Jackie Sherrill declined to say where those changes will be made or the players that will be affected.

“I don't want to talk about them, because Tulane will have a better understanding of the schemes we're trying to do,” said Sherrill, whose team is off this week before facing the Green Wave Sept. 13 at the Superdome.

The secondary obviously didn't have one of its better outings against the Ducks. Lost containment and blown assignments led to four touchdowns through the air, including an 86-yard bomb on third-and-23. But, Sherrill noted the defensive backs can't take sole responsibility for those scores.

“On the two long touchdown passes (covering 55 and 86 yards, respectively), we flushed (Kellen Clemens, quarterback) on the front side,” Sherrill said. “If we had pressured and contained him on the back side, he would not have been able to throw those touchdowns. People up front have to carry out their responsibility.”

The 13th-year coach went on to say the linebacking corps joined the secondary as units that didn't play all that well.

However, Sherrill was quick to compliment the play of the defensive line.

“Up front, the guys played well,” he said. “That's what got my attention. They were flying to the ball and making some good hits.”

Tackles Tommy Kelly and Ronald Fields were credited with seven stops each, while ends Willie Evans and Jason Clark posted six and five, respectively.

Two-point conversion?

Down 42-21 midway through the fourth quarter, Mississippi State quarterback Kevin Fant connected with Tee Milons on a 14-yard scoring strike. Instead of sending out Brent Smith to attempt the point-after, Sherrill went for two. It failed.

But why go for two when you're only two touchdowns behind?

“That's what the chart said,” Sherrill said.

Interesting.