Q: Jelani, any further into detail?
WM: "He is going to see a specialist on Friday and they will remove the pin from his thumb. If he were to play it will be in a cast and that goes back to pain level and comfort level of playing with the cast. There will be some sort of covering if he is able to play. We won't know until the guy looks at it, so I don't want to say he is ready to go right now."
Q. How much has Jelani been able to do since the injury?
WM: "The first week he was pretty limited This last week he's been running and lifting as much as he can with the cast with the strength coach and strength staff."
Q. How much will the cast affect him if he can come back?
WM: "I don't even know what kind of cast it will be, how big or small. I just know he is seeing a specialist on Friday. I asked Anthony pass this morning at the staff meeting about playing against LSU. He said, ‘Coach we'll see… if everything goes as we feel like is planned, there is a possibility of that. He will probably be in a cast." I am a little bit in the dark until he meets with the specialist on Friday."
Q. What is the difference between your team this year and last year?
WM: "Experience, maturity, depth on both lines of scrimmage… I think we are a stronger football team, a more physical bunch. We have been able to practice a little more physical because of our depth. We are also a stronger football team from the weight room. A lot of our guys last year, I think we inherited a very young and talented team, but most of those guys were playing for the first time for a full year in the SEC. Over 70% of our roster was freshmen and sophomores last year."
Q. What is your take on the development of Jeff Driskel?
WM: "I expected it. Jeff is a competitive guy and very talented. He is also a cerebral guy and will work at it and study the film. He takes coaching very well and understands what he has to do week in and week out. I felt comfortable about that position all along, I never once blinked about the quarterback position. The only thing both guys were missing was experience and reps and that is what we needed to get."
Q. Issues with Andre Debose on punts, is it strictly about fielding the ball?
WM: "He has to field the ball a little better on punts, but he is doing fine. Right now, if we were to play tomorrow he would be back there catching punts. We have to block better for him. We have to give him an opportunity. We had a guy cut loose there when we had a chance for a return and had some things set up. The kickoff returns are the same thing, we have to do a better job of blocking.
"The other day he got his eyes on coverage instead of securing the ball first. A couple of times we let the ball hit, it wasn't always him, but we are losing precious yards there."
Q. Do you think an NFL style injury report would work at this level, and is that something you would favor?
WM: "I wouldn't be for that. In a lot of situations, you don't know as a coach. We are sitting there at a Monday press conference and they are asking if they will be available on Saturday. In a lot of situations I don't know. That isn't going to work on our level."
Q. On the defensive line, are you playing your main guys less this year, and what has been the result of that?
WM: "Yes. They are they have taken (fewer) snaps. As a result they have played better as the game has worn on. We have had three games going into the second half where we needed to play well and we have played well. The endurance of those guys has been good because the other guys are playing more. We have more confidence in the other guys as well. Those guys being able to play later in games has helped us."
Q. Do you quantify how much less snaps the main guys take this year from last year?
WM: "I would say anywhere from 12 to 20 snaps. I would say we took about 71 snaps in the Tennessee game. I think Sharrif Floyd ended up playing about 48-50 snaps whereas a year ago he would have played 65. "When you are talking about another 15-18 snaps to a 300+ pounder, it takes it's wear and tear on them and when you are talking about a double team, that combination would be another 700 pounds on 2-3 more power plays, it makes a huge difference."
Q. Scrimmage for younger guys?
WM: "We did yesterday. We got about 20 snaps, we got some three on three and one on one with the receivers and DB's which we do every Monday during game week. It was productive and very simple. We wanted to see the guys take on blocks and block and get their hands inside and have good hand placement and pad level. We wanted to see some of the young defensive guys tackle.
"I think Alex McCalister is a guy that has done some things. He has to continue to get stronger. He's been a basketball guy his whole life. Quinteze Williams did some nice things. Jessamen Dunker did some good things. Kent Taylor continues to improve his physicality and play. Raph Andrades did some nice things. Skyler Mornhinweg had some good snaps. Mark Herndon, a walk-on running back, had some nice runs. Marcus Maye showed up a little bit. I think across the board, all those guys got a good 20 snaps to try and develop the young guys."