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 game at Tennessee.
Here is a transcript of Moorhead's time on the call:
Moorhead: “We’re coming off a very productive bye week from a program development, recruiting and game-planning standpoint. We’ve had a couple of days of practice and are excited to get back on the field against a very good Tennessee (team) in a very challenging road environment.”
You talked about potentially playing both quarterbacks on Saturday. How have they looked at practice and is that still the plan?
Moorhead: “I thought for the first day of practice in full pads they both had a solid day. They threw the ball really well. As we mentioned on Monday, they are both nicked up with lower body things and are healing up so they can be just as much of a factor in the run game as they are in the pass game.
“We’re excited to get back on the field today and work a bunch of situational stuff, third down and red zone.”
Is there a strategy to determine which players will be withheld from week-to-week and when do you tell those players?
Moorhead: “A lot of that stuff was handled at the beginning of the season. Those kids are made well aware in advance.”
Have the suspensions been a big distraction for the team?
Moorhead: “I think it’s very challenging in terms of game-planning, depth and practice reps. It hasn’t been a distraction to the team, no sir.”
What are the main differences in your quarterbacks Tommy Stevens and Garrett Shrader?
Moorhead: “Experience. They’re both guys that have strong arms and can throw the ball very well and can both beat you with their feet. Tommy - obviously being a fifth-year guy - and Garrett being a true freshman, I’d say the biggest thing is game experience and football maturity.”
How can you use motion in the run game like you did against Auburn last year make things difficult for defenses?
Moorhead: “Looking back to that game two years ago with their very physical and athletic defensive front and linebackers who ran very well, we didn’t want to allow them to get their cleats in the ground and didn’t want them to play downhill. So we wanted to create misdirection and a little bit of indecision on their end on some of the power sucker game.
“We tried motions and implement some of that this past (game) obviously with less success. But when you have a defensive line and a front seven as talented as Auburn, it’s difficult to just line up and run the ball downhill at them with a consistent degree of success. You have to do some things to make them play more horizontally.”
What are the advantages of an offense introducing motion into its run game?
Moorhead: “I’d say blocking angles.”
What makes Kylin Hill such a good running back?
Moorhead: “Kylin has matured a lot in the last year, both physically and mentally. His approach to the offseason with the strength and conditioning getting ready for a season where he knew he was going to have a ton of carries was impressive. Also with coach (Terry) Richardson, whose played and coached at both the collegiate and NFL levels, I think that’s been a good pairing with those guys and a good mentorship.
“But Kylin’s a guy that has small back skill in a big back body. He’s a guy that can run tough between the tackles and get you four or five (yards) when it’s maybe meant for two or three. He’s a guy that when he gets on the perimeter can run by you or make people miss. I think that’s what makes him unique and why he’s having a good year.”
You led the league in defense last year but lost three first round draft picks. Do you feel good about the way your defense has responded having to replace so many good players?
Moorhead: “Three first round draft picks, all four starters on the defensive line and then the three primary backups to the nose guard and defensive tackle – that was a ton of experience and a ton of starters particularly up front in a line of scrimmage league. We knew there was going to be some inexperience. We knew we were going to have to get the young guys grown up quickly.
“But I think outside of the Auburn game, where none of us would say it was indicative of our style of play or how we want our team to perform, I think you’re seeing the older guys perform at a very consistent level. The Erroll Thompson’s and Cam Dantzler’s, guys who have played a lot of football. You’re seeing the younger guys improve and mature on a weekly basis, most notably Fabien Lovett and Jaden Crumedy – the two interior defensive linemen.”
What do you think of the job Bob Shoop has done as your defensive coordinator?
Moorhead: “Bob is a guy I’ve known for a long time. He grew up in the town right next to me and has consistently had successful and productive defensive units at just about every place that he’s been in college football. The Tennessee years were a bit of an anomaly. He bounced back strong last year.
“He’s a guy that does an excellent job of putting the kids in position to be successful and calls a good, strong and aggressive game. He’s surrounded by a bunch of quality assistants. I think Bob is one of the top defensive coordinators in the country.”