The following is Ole Miss Coach David Cutcliffe's postgame press conference after the Rebels lost to Memphis 20-13 in Oxford Saturday night.
Cutcliffe: It's obvious that it was extremely disappointing to play as poorly as we did at times. The biggest issue was inconsistency as a team. We certainly had a hard time getting started offensively and getting anything done. As the evening went on, we were so bad on third downs. It's hard to sustain drives when you are 3-for-15 on third downs. We've got a lot of work to do. Adversity is part of this game. We're facing it early. We'll have to pick ourselves up and go back to work. We have to look at everything we're doing and we have to get better in a hurry to be competitive. We intend to do that.
Q: Talk about your defense tonight.
Cutcliffe: I thought we gave great effort. We had a lot of energy against a good Memphis offense. We got a little cramped at the end and gave up a couple of plays we'd like to have back. But we were pretty consistent for the most part. We just have to stop the big play, and they are a big-play type offense, which is sometimes difficult. But I thought we competed hard all day.
Q: Evaluate Micheal Spurlock's performance.
Cutcliffe: Micheal was inconsistent. He did some good things. He's going to learn a lot from the experience. But he was certainly inconsistent throwing the ball. It's tough. It's a tough beginning. He'll learn from it and get better with time and we'll see where we go.
Q: Was the idea early to keep things simple and keep the pressure off Spurlock?
Cutcliffe: We had bad field position, and we certainly didn't want to throw him to the wolves early with that field position. We were hoping we could come back, and they weren't really rushing the passer. They were laying back eight people in coverage. We tried to establish a running game. We didn't establish it as early as we'd like. At times we ran the ball well. We didn't do anything consistently offensively.
Q: Did you notice that Spurlock had some footing problems at times?
Cutcliffe: He cramped some. I know he stumbled a couple of times. He rushed himself at times. Sometimes when you rush yourself it can be difficult. I haven't talked to him, but I do know what you're talking about.
Q: Are you worried about Spurlock's confidence?
Cutcliffe: I would think he's shaken a little bit. I haven't had a chance to talk to him yet. He's a competitor and he's been through tough times before. That's a part of playing quarterback. He has to be able to handle that.
Q: Compare this year's Memphis team with last year's.
Cutcliffe: It's pretty much the same group of players on offense, so they're more experienced. They're explosive on offense. They've got a lot of weapons at wide receiver, and they look like they're going to have a good football team.
Q: Did anything they do surprise you at all?
Cutcliffe: They did pretty much what we expected. We just didn't execute against them.
Q: You had a number of penalties in critical situations tonight.
Cutcliffe: Penalties are something you want to avoid. It seems like every early game I watch, teams get themselves in trouble with penalties. There were some close calls out there. Close calls are part of the game. Close calls are something we can't focus on. We have to put ourselves in better position than we put ourselves in. We try to be penalty free, but those interference call s were all judgement calls.
Q: Talk about Jonathan Nichols.
Cutcliffe: Jonathan Nichols is a consistent performer. That's what we need to display more of as a team.
Q: It's early, but with a loss like this last year, was that where experience last year came in handy?
Cutcliffe: Facing adversity is part of this game. We faced adversity a year ago early. We've got to show we can do that again. That's a week to week thing. We just have to play them one game at a time. We just have to try to get better as a football team everyday. And that's the way you deal with adversity.
Q: Talk about how you thought Corey Mills played today?
Cutcliffe: I don't know exactly how he played today, not until I see the tape. We had plans going in to play Corey a lot. He's been really good in practice and shown he's ready. He's a very physical player and it will be interesting to see how he played.
Q: How far behind Spurlock at quarterback are Ethan Flatt and Robert Lane?
Cutcliffe: Micheal is our quarterback right now. He has to believe we have confidence in him, which we do. He's displayed that by a pretty big margin and he's been the most consistent performer up to this point. But he's like every other football player. He's got to compete and prove that week to week.
Q: What's a fair amount of time for a new quarterback to get into the flow of things and what all you're trying to do?
Cutcliffe: He needs to do it rather quickly. We're faced now with going on the road to Tuscaloosa. He's started one game at home, and now he's got to start one game on the road. Our job is to get him ready at practice, and that's what we have to do. We have to have him more prepared. He's got to show what he's shown in scrimmages. He's been consistent at times, and he's been inconsistent at times. We're going to keep working him and trying to get him there. We're going to have to do it on the practice field. The time is now.
Cutcliffe's postgame press conference
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