First of all, Michael [Bennett] getting hurt was a very sad thing. We were having quite a good practice yesterday. It was the very last play. I was thinking what a good day it was, what a good practice it was. When he got hurt, it took a little wind out of our sails, especially when we got the MRI report. The good news for Michael is he is a sophomore. He's got two more years to go. It happened at a time in the year where he could be back full-speed by the start of next season. We're about to play a player in Lattimore that had a similar thing happen to him. I think it was right around this time of the year, and he has recovered beautifully. That helps Michael and us as we move forward. Now we gotta play the rest of the season without him. That means other guys will get opportunities to make some plays. He was our leading receiver and was playing extremely well for us, extremely physical. Now we've gotta have other guys step up. I'm not going to sit here and tell where everybody is going to play and what position, but I'll let the defense figure that out when we play them on Saturday. We've got Malcolm Mitchell, Marlon, Wooten, TK, Rhett McGowan and Chris Conley. We still have at least six guys that know what they're doing, can play and have played in big games. They'll get more opportunities than they probably would've gotten, especially guys that play position.
On Receiver Depth…
I think we're still going to be fine, but we're losing a guy that I personally think helped the toughness of our unit. I think the way he went about his business, even when he was redshirted, he's a tough hard-nosed football player. He practiced with a lot of intensity. Not that he was the only guy doing it, but I think when you get enough guys doing it like that, it becomes a part of the culture of the position, and he was a very big part of that.
On Malcolm Mitchell…
Malcolm even last week was primarily a receiver. I don't think it's going to change our plan for Malcolm. I wouldn't say he's done on defense. He's still going to get work as a defensive player, and he'll probably get some reps on defense as the season goes on.
On Blake Tibbs…
Right now, Tibbs is still a redshirt.
On Bennett's injury…
He was just blocking. There was no contact other than he was engaged in a block. No one rolled up on him or anything like that. ACL injuries are usually non-contact injuries. It's usually the thing buckles and goes the wrong way. I've been told womens soccer is the No. 1 sport for ACL injuries. It's not like they're tackling each other or anything like that. When you change directions and get in awkward positions, it can happen.
Did you know it was bad?
We didn't know. Where I was I couldn't tell what he had hurt. He got up after just a little bit and he walked it off. We took that as a good sign. I had already called the team up to make announcements. I wanted to keep the attention away from what was happening. When he walked past the team, we all gave him a little applause, thinking he was going to be ok. That's fairly common with ACLs too. Sometimes it'll happen and it doesn't swell. Initially you feel some pain and then you feel fine. As it turns out, he's going to have to have some surgery.
Will he travel?
I don't think so. We want his knee to be prepared for surgery. We want to keep the swelling down. If he came, whether he played or not, he would count in our travel roster of 70 players. We want to try and have as many able bodies as we can. In our staff meeting this morning, Ron felt like it'd be better off for him. You want him to be safe. You don't want it to swell up.
Does Malcolm moving back over give you some consolation?
We've had a lot of guys make plays for us. Malcolm is far enough along at receiver that we think he can be very effective. If you include him in the number of guys we think are game-ready, that's at least two-deep in a three-receiver set. We have faith in our tight ends to be route runners and ball catchers. We think we'll have enough people to make plays for us.
What about Justin Scott-Wesley?
Justin is right on the cusp. He's been practicing well the last couple of weeks. He's coming right along.
On Jay Rome…
I like the way he's practicing. Seemed like right before the season began, he had a hamstring injury, and we weren't sure if he was going to go or not go in the first game. But he's practicing very well. I think the tight end position is going to continue to catch balls. Artie had a pretty good day Saturday. Sometimes Artie is in the game when the number is called; sometimes Jay is in the game…We have faith in those guys.
With Murray, it's been cited that he doesn't have that signature win. How much of that rests on a quarterbacks shoulders, and is it fair?
I don't think Murray is in need of any kind of signature victory to validate the type of player he is. Some quarterbacks, early in their career somewhere along the way, they need to play in such a way that the team has faith that the guy can do it. Sometimes it happens to a kid real early in his career, just like that kid at Texas A&M against Florida. Even though they lost that game, he played pretty good, and I would think most of their fans and coaches think he can do it. I think Murray is way past that. Would he like to have a championship under his belt before he leaves? I'm sure he would. We all would because that means everyone is doing well. When I think of a signature victory, I think in terms of a victory that validates him as the leader and the guy that can be "the man." I think he's already done that.
In practice today, what was the response among the team?
It was different to me. It was, maybe, just a little bit more somber. I didn't see quite the energy today. I don't know if it was from [Bennett] or because it was Wednesday and they were tired from Tuesday. I think everybody went about their business and practiced hard. I think there was a good focus. We started cranking up some of the music yesterday, and I think the first time they hear it it gets them bouncing around a little bit. If they hear it the next day, it doesn't affect them quite as much.
Is there any sense of urgency to not lose this game three years in a row?
We don't like to make history in a negative way, and that would be the first time that's happened in school history. We definitely don't want to be on that end of the historical event.
Do you think you will lose if you turn the ball over like last week?
You lessen your chances of victory if you turn it over, but I don't think it would sink our boat. It wouldn't help us, that's for sure. Even the Tennessee game, we could've gotten stops without getting turnovers and still won the game, while losing the turnover ratio. It was 3-to-1 (turnover ratio). We certainly didn't help ourselves with that….
Does Jarvis feel any affect from the groin issue?
I don't know if he would say that it is bothering him, but I gotta feeling it's probably not 100% right now. He's not going to sit there and make an excuse, but I'm not sure it's 100%. There's a different speed in practice and in games, so we'll have to wait till the game to see. No matter how hard you go in practice, you can't simulate that adrenaline, that rush, that you get in the game that cures a lot of things.
Has the offensive line exceeded your expectations thus far?
At this point, we're doing better offensively up front than I thought we would. It's still relatively early in the year. We're playing some pretty stout defenses on the horizon including South Carolina that will test us….