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 against Kansas State.
Here is a transcript of Moorhead's time on the call:
Moorhead: “I’m excited about our win last week in our first home game against a quality instate opponent. It’s great to be 1-0 this week and 2-0 overall. It’s great to crack the Top 25 and excited to have a great Power-5 opponent like Kansas State coming in for Week 3. We’ll have to do a great job in our preparation to take the field with confidence to have an opportunity to win.”
A lot of people might be surprised to see Kylin Hill at the top of the SEC rushing stats because there are more heralded guys. What’s he doing to get off to such a great start?
Moorhead: “I don’t think it surprises anyone within the program or the state of Mississippi. Kylin was like a 750-yard guy last year and missed two-plus games with injury. He had a great offseason mentally and physically. He has all the physical tools.
“Historically, running backs in this system going back to Penn State and places I’ve been have had a lot of success. Hopefully Kylin can continue to do the things that he’s doing. I’m very proud of his start.”
Do you think Hill can maintain playing at this level?
Moorhead: “Absolutely. He combines small back characteristics in a big back body. He can get a play that’s blocked for one or two (yards) and get four or five because of his pad level and physicality. He’s a guy that when you get into open space he’s able to make people miss.
“In terms of his preparation with coach (Terry) Richardson, his physical talent and his durability will allow him to continue to play at a similar level the entire season.”
How instrumental was Van Malone in coaching your defense last year and how much can he help Kansas State?
Moorhead: “Van has been an excellent coach and coordinator. He was at SMU prior to coming to Mississippi State and is very intelligent. He understands the game and even from a quality control standpoint provided great information to our staff last season.
“Probably like any coach who’s spend a year in the building, he would understand some of the things we’re doing offensively. All of his time was spent on that side of the ball. He would have a rudimentary and fundamental understanding of what we’re doing offensively.”
How much will you ask Isaiah Zuber about Kansas State’s tendencies and schemes and how much can he help you in preparation for this game?
Moorhead: “I wouldn’t say that Isaiah has been hesitant to provide information but we really haven’t asked him outside of personnel. We have the film from last year and film from this year. There might be a question or two about a guy he’s gone against in practice and things along those lines but nothing relative to schemes.”
Does Zuber seem hyped up for this game going against his former team?
Moorhead: “I think internally he probably is. Isaiah is a very even-keeled kid. He keeps his emotions in check. He doesn’t get too high or too low. I think that emotional that you’ll see will pop off on game day.”
What is the confidence level that Tommy Stevens will see action on Saturday?
Moorhead: “I think it’s kind of like where we were with Darryl (Williams) last week. It’s more of a day-by-day thing. He did a few things yesterday and continued to work with our training staff. We’re hoping to progress him a little bit each day here.
“They have treatments throughout the day and a team meeting coming up at 2:45. Then we’ll get him on the field and see how he’s feeling. Hopefully it’s a little bit better everyday and we can continue progressing him in a positive manner towards game day.”
Is there still a competition for the No. 2 quarterback between Garrett Shrader and Keytaon Thompson or has Shrader settled into that role?
Moorhead: “At this point, Garrett, K.T. and (Jalen) Mayden took reps yesterday at practice. Obviously we’d like to keep our cards a little bit close to the vest sometimes. But I’ll say this, all three of those guys are capable of running with the one’s and have that ability. We’ll go through the practice week and see who ends up No. 1 healthy and No. 2 being the best prepared to compete with Kansas State and come out with a win.”
Did Chauncey Rivers tell you to call Zuber once he entered the transfer portal?
Moorhead: “Obviously (Zuber) was teammates with Montez (Sweat) and Chauncey coming out of high school. There really wasn’t much selling that he needed to do. We played against him last year and saw the film and saw his abilities as a receiver and a returner.
“Once he jumped in there and became available, he’s a guy that we reached out to and wanted to know if he’d be interested in joining our program.”
What has Zuber brought to the offense?
Moorhead: “Maturity, production and experience. I think he’s a guy that has positional flexibility where sometimes a guy – based on his skill set – is best suited to play one of the three positions, Z, H or X. He’s a guy at Kansas State and here that combines intelligence and skill. He can really jump in and be at any of the three positions.”
What changes do you see from Kansas State from last year to this year?
Moorhead: “Nicholls State was 9-4 last year if I’m not mistaken and did a real nice job at the FCS level. Having spent four year in the MAC, you know what kind of program Bowling Green has been historically. I know coach (Scot) Loeffler has had a lot of success in the NFL.
“But I think you see a similar philosophy under coach (Bill) Snyder – tough, disciplined, blue-collar and doesn’t beat themselves. You can also see coach (Chris) Klieman’s fingerprints on the team. He’s a guy that’s won 23-straight games as a head coach, has seven national championships at North Dakota State and five as a head coach.
“Obviously being at Fordham all those years and competing in the playoffs against North Dakota State, there’s a familiarity with what he did there. In some ways it’s unprecedented. You don’t see that level of success over an extended period of time like he had there. People get caught up in FBS but some of the best coaches I’ve seen are at that level and coach (Klieman) is one of them.”
How much do you think the heat and humidity will affect Kansas State?
Moorhead: “I went on the Weather Channel this morning and at 7 a.m. it was 75 (degrees) in Manhattan, Kansas and 70 here. Their high for today is going to be 92 and it dips down the next two days. Coach and his staff will have them ready to play and I think they’ll be very well conditioned.
“As I learned very quickly, Mississippi heat and humidity is a little bit different than other places so I can’t speak to their level of preparedness. But I know last week and this week our training staff, strength and conditioning staff and nutrition staff did a great job in terms of hydration and practice plan. We’re excited about how we’re getting our guys ready.”