joe moorhead arkansas 19

Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead held LSU below its season average and hopes to do the same to Alabama this weekend. 

Mississippi State's Joe Moorhead joined the rest of the league's head coaches on the SEC Teleconference on Wednesday to discuss the Bulldogs' upcoming open date.

Here is a transcript of Moorhead's time on the call:

Opening statement:

Moorhead: “I’m excited about our team’s performance against Arkansas. I thought the kids played hard and competed well. I thought we executed cleanly in all three phases. I’m excited to head into the bye week and get some of our young guys a lot of developmental work and get on the road recruiting.”

Are you in favor of the four-team playoff?

Moorhead: “Yeah. I guess in my simplistic view of it is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I think our conference and our school are in belief that the SEC Championship Game is something that’s positive and the four-team playoff is something that is working well. That’s kind of my thought process on it.”

Erroll Thompson went down in the Arkansas game. How is he progressing?

Moorhead: “It was an upper body. It wasn’t something that was too serious. He practiced yesterday in a somewhat limited role but he did practice yesterday.”

What is Garrett Shrader’s health status this week and how will you handle the quarterback situation?

Moorhead: “He’s still working through it. Garrett practiced yesterday and did a nice job. We’re still kind of in bye week mode right now.

“We’ll practice today and the kids will still have classes. I imagine some of them will go home over the weekend and we’ll hit the road recruiting. I’ll give the staff off Saturday and Sunday we’ll get back and get into Alabama-mode so to speak, even though we’ve started our preliminary game plan on that already. On Monday I’ll probably have a little more insight relative to what we’re doing moving forward.”

How much do you think injuries hindered Tommy Stevens?

Moorhead: “I believe pretty significantly. I think it showed – not necessarily in his performance but I guess in a certain way it did. Garrett’s first start is the first week of practice that Tommy really looked 100 percent healthy. Obviously this week he had another great week of practice. We brought him in later in the week and said ‘listen, I know you’re finally healthy and to win this game we’re going to need you to use your arm as well as your feet’ It’s one thing for him to be healthy and comfortable running again and I thought he did a real nice job of running the ball.”

What are your early impressions of Alabama?

Moorhead: “Where do you start? Offensively, they have a big, strong, athletic and physical offensive line. I think between the two teams, you’re looking at the best two receiving corps in the country. They’re very experienced and productive at quarterback and have a stable of running backs and their tight ends are very effective. Obviously coach (Steve) Sarkisian has a lot of experience coordinating offenses at the collegiate and pro levels so I think they’re doing a nice job there.

“They’re a little bit young at some spots defensively but it certainly hasn’t hindered their performance. The (Raekwon) Davis kid is an All-American and future NFL player up front. The linebackers on the inside are playing well and the safeties and corners have incredible length and athletic ability. I think they’re a team that has very few weak spots.”

Will you watch the Alabama-LSU game on Saturday?

Moorhead: “The first thing I’m going to watch is Armstrong Middle School basketball. We’ve got a 9 (a.m.) and a 1 (p.m.) game for my youngest son. Then we’ll get back home and I’ll probably hang out and watch some of the games. So yes, I think the plan is to make sure we watch some of that one. I think it’s a 2:30 kick if I’m not mistaken.”

What is your perspective on the LSU-Alabama game?

Moorhead: “I think it’s going to be a marquee matchup. They’re one and two in the country with two great rosters performing at a high level. The game is in Tuscaloosa. There’s a lot on the line. I know both teams are going to play hard and know they’re both very, very well coached. Like most games, I’m sure coach (Ed Orgeron) and coach (Nick) Saban would agree that it’ll come down to explosive plays and turnover margin. That’s how most games play out.”

Your team created a lot of turnovers early in the season. Is there a drill that you do to create those turnovers?

Moorhead: “Very early in our individual portion of practice we work a ball security circuit on offense and defensively we call it hunt the ball where it’s a turnover circuit. We also have a tackling circuit and do a tempo drill. There is a drill at the initial phase of practice that we do on a weekly basis where we concentrate on getting turnovers.”

logan.lowery@journalinc.com

Twitter: @loganlowery

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