Tuesday Press Conference Report

Coach Sylvester Croom held his Tuesday game-week press conference today, making the following statements about the upcoming Homecoming contest with Houston and the status of some Bulldog personnel.

This week: "It's Homecoming and we look forward to the weekend. We look forward to getting started on the second half of the season, that's just the way we're treating it after the three-game stretch that we had. We feel we have gotten better in some areas, we still need to improve in some areas, but the break came at an excellent time for us. We can get some key guys healthy and hopefully everybody will be back full-speed today.

"It's a big week for us, it's the second half for us and time for a lot of out young players to make a move. We're pretty much set as far as the depth chart goes for the rest for the regular season unless injuries should occur. The thing we know now is we can compete with some of the top teams, we held our own at least a half to three quarters in two of the games. I hope that will give us needed experience and confidence as we start down this stretch.

"We still offensively have to make a big move this week, it will not be an easy task against a good Houston defense, but in ordre for us to have a chance to win we have to play better offensively. Because we are playing an outstanding Houston offense, even more explosive than Florida if that can be imagined. That will be a tough task for our defense, our coaching staff has a good plan, but we're going to have to do a great job not necessarily stopping them but keeping them out of the end zone. And the best way to slow them down is keep them off the field as long as possible, that's what we have to do with our offense."

Houston's offense: "They're very good. Their quarterback understands the offense, he knows exactly where to go with the football, he knows how to make different adjustments, he's in complete control out there. He's got some nice weapons. The passing game is obvious but the thing that gets overlooked sometimes is they have two pretty good-sized running backs and that's a big concern. When you play a ‘spread' offenses like this the running game concerns me more than the passing game, always. Because when they spread you out to cover those receivers it leaves space for guys to run and make yards on the ground. Particularly big backs, because they can wear you out tackling in space. So even though it's an explosive air attack stopping the run in key to slowing this offense down."

Houston's defense: "First of all they're playing a three-man front, it's the first time we've seen one since last year. They do a lot of different things with their linebackers, they've got four linebackers and three down-linemen. They're three big linemen, I think the smallest one is 300 pounds and moves pretty well. Their linebackers are agile, they rush one and sometimes two making you throw ‘hot' on some things. So we've spent a lot of extra time on pass protection making sure everybody is on the same page. They also move those three linemen to where it ends up being a 4-3 look, using one of those outside ‘backers as a defensive end. But he still stands up, so it can get confusing. We have a way to get everybody on the same page as far as how to treat the front, the key is communication and as long as we're the same it's OK."

On Jerious Norwood: "He'll be our starting punt returner. Whether we use him the entire ball game depends on our situations, and him. We'll still use Derek Pegues and we may even go back to using Jonathan some. But no question Jerious is our best guy, it's just a question of how much can we ask of him in the course of a day. But he will start the day at punt returner."

On Jonathan Lowe: "We don't have a lot of long discussions, we usually get to the point. The point is simple, he made better decisions last year as a freshman. So it's my fault, I guess, I might have coached him down. He made great decisions as a freshman and I coached him and he's making bad decisions. So maybe I'll get out of the way, too."

On Demario Bobo's status: "He'll play this week. He'll start the ball game. How much he'll play, he still has a (knee) injury and is not 100% probably won't be the rest of the season. He'll start the game but we don't expect him to go (the whole game). We'll leave up to him pretty much how much he'll play."

On backup De'Mon Glanton at Florida: "he started off very slowly but I thought he picked up as the game went on. He had a real nice play on a corner route, came from a pretty good distance to make a tackle. He did not tackle well early, I think it was a lack of confidence tackling out in space. We talked to him on the sideline, he was tackling way too low against that kind of athlete. That's something we worked on last week, a lot more space-tackling with our secondary people so we anticipate that being better this week."

On Omarr Conner: "He'll start, he's healthy now. And he's going to have to play better, make good decisions. We'll do some things different in looks, (but) we won't change a whole lot but he has to make good decisions. Some weeks he has, some weeks he hasn't. But everybody on offense has got to be better, everybody. Line, receivers, backs, quarterbacks. We've got to coach them better. And we'll do that this week, to get everybody doing exactly what we've got to do. We've got to be more efficient because plays have been there and we've left them on the field. We haven't made plays, either somebody breaking down. Either we've got receivers open and the quarterbacks are overthrowing or got no protection; or it's protected well, thrown well, and we get a drop. We've all go to be on the same page at the same time.

"As far as 100% I don't think anybody is 100% right now. But he's throwing the ball well, and last week he was extremely sore after the hit he took at Florida but he's alright."

On Mike Henig's second-half at Florida: "It was good for me for evaluation of Mike because I thought he hung in very well against one of the better teams in the country. At times he didn't have a lot of protection but he did some good things. It gives us more confidence and I'm sure it does himself as well as we move forward."

The right side of the offensive line: "It's probably (guard) Royce Blackledge and (tackle) Avery House right now as far as starting the game. Calvin Wilson is making some improvement but he's not ready to be a starter yet. I was hoping he would be this week. But again, he didn't go through training camp and he's not in great football shape. He's just not ready to be a starter yet, much to my disappointment and I'm sure his as well. He'll still play a lot but he probably won't start this week. And again, that could change between now and gametime."

Does he see any surprises in the SEC this year: "Not really. It's gone about like I expected it. You've got LSU, Georgia, Florida…I'd say if there's anything a little bit surprising I'd have thought Tennessee would have won a couple more games than they have, I still think they're a very good team. But right now Georgia and LSU are the class of the league."

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