The following is Coach David Cutcliffe's Monday morning press conference, beginning with some opening remarks.
Cut: "First I want to say our prayers and sympathy go out to the family of Amy Ewing for their tragic loss. They are in our thoughts."
"After watching the tape of the Memphis game, we simply did not play well. We've got a lot of getting better to do - the tape confirms that. We didn't execute nearly as well as we can. The exciting part is that we can get better. The tough part is that we are getting ready to play an Alabama team that is executing extremely well in all phases, based on their first game. They are a very good football team. I'm sure when our players see them on tape, they will realize how quickly we have to get to the point of where we are executing at a high level to make ourselves a competitive football team. I expect that to happen."
Q: Was the lack of execution a major surprise to you?
Cut: "It wasn't a major surprise. I have been concerned in practice with our lack of consistency in throwing and catching, particularly, but what did come as a surprise was that we weren't nearly as physical as we should be up front on offense. That is very disappointing and needs to change quickly."
Q: Can you give us an injury report?
Cut: "WR Kerry Johnson is 'iffy' this week with his hand. He had some surgery to fix some things in his hand, but he has a chance to play. . . OT Bobby Harris is questionable with a badly sprained ankle. He's working hard to get back, but he's questionable. . . DT Daniel Booth is 'iffy,' but we'll get a better read on him today. . . We have some strains and problems, but we don't think anyone else will miss playing time. Daniel will get some work today, but Kerry and Bobby will not."
Q: Where do you think the lack of being physical came about?
Cut: "I don't know. We played physical last year and we have been physical in scrimmages, but we were not against Memphis. I know we are capable of being more physical in terms of finishing blocks and being consistent. We did some things good at times, but you have to be consistent in this league and we should be with the experience we have on the front."
Q: What did you think of QB Micheal Spurlock's performance?
Cut: "I don't think he ever found a rhythm. I thought he was hurried and played that way the whole night. I don't think he ever really settled down into a rhythm. He had a couple of drives where he came close. He just has to relax and play football. He has to use this as a learning experience. I know he is capable of playing well. I'm anxious to see that improvement this week and believe I will. He was hurried in everything all night."
Q: Was the lack of consistency up front the most disappointing aspect of the game considering the OL is supposed to be the strong point of the team?
Cut: "That was the thing that surprised me the most."
Q: Discuss the defensive effort.
Cut: "I thought the effort was very good. We played too many snaps. There were 87 on the play-by-play but 95 counting penalties. That's too many. We got a little tired. I thought we were more aggressive in coverage and that showed. We still have work to do there, but I was pleased with the improvement. We didn't get enough pressure on the QB, but they throw the ball quickly most of the time. Their protection scheme was solid inside and we didn't get much pressure off the edge. If we would have tackled a little better, we would have had an excellent performance. We also have to get ourselves off the field defensively a little better. Overall, though, I have no major problems with our defensive effort."
Q: Address the lines of scrimmage on both sides of the ball concerning Alabama and the last two times you have faced them - one a Bama blowout, one a Rebel blowout.
Cut: "We didn't play very well anywhere on the team over there two years ago. They dominated us - totally. We did better last year. I think we can be physical with Alabama because we are bigger than we were on the defensive front and we are seasoned on the offensive front. But as I said, Alabama is very good and they played well their first game. They will be a difficult opponent, but if you are competitive, which we are, this is an opportunity for us."
Q: How similar will Brodie Croyle be to Danny Wimprine in terms of getting the ball off quickly?
Cut: "They don't run the same style of offense, but they throw the ball on time and he's a veteran QB. He knows where he wants to go with the ball and makes good decisions."
Q: Did the Memphis game give your defensive unit some confidence?
Cut: "I would think so. We did some good things. We didn't get ourselves off the field sometimes when we should have, but we were OK on that side of the ball. I'm sure some confidence was built with certain players, but we have to do a little better as a team to have success. Alabama has a lot of weapons. We'll have to deal with them."
Q: Was your balance on offense what you want?
Cut: "I'd like to see more snaps. We like balance, but that is sometimes dictated by what defense you are facing. Balance means having the ability to do either - run or pass - effectively, it doesn't really mean what you will call in a game. When things are going well, we want to be running the ball, but if things get stacked up, we better be able to throw it. We didn't last Saturday."
Q: Talk about Bama's offense executing well versus not doing so consistently last year.
Cut: "Last year they didn't have a chance to get comfortable with what they were doing. It's evident they are now. They know where they are and what they are doing now and it's obvious on film."
Q: What do you do in practice to get your offense on track?
Cut: "We will demand better execution, focus and consistency in practice. How you practice is normally how you play. We will break into a lot of individual and technique work and then we will do team work that will require execution. There is no gimmick or magic wand. You work to get better and keep working until you do. I think the team will be eager to anything we ask them to do after Saturday night. They were eager before, but they will be moreso now."
Q: How did Darryl Harris do in replacing Bobby Harris at LT?
Cut: "He did OK. It was his first time to play. He'll get better every snap. He didn't get much work last fall or any in spring, but he's a quick study with a high intensity level. I wish he was bigger and stronger, but he's not so he has to be a good technician. He did alright - he held his own."
Q: Talk a little more about Micheal Spurlock's impatience. Isn't that something most new QBs experience?
Cut: "I think it's normal, but I was hoping it wouldn't show as much as it did. While he has not played a lot, he has practiced a lot and had to be prepared to play for the past two years. He practiced as THE backup and I have seen him in rhythm a lot in practices and in scrimmages. He never got to that Saturday."
Q: Did Micheal handle the game well mentally?
Cut: "Yes. I thought he knew what was going on mentally. He had a couple of errors where he hit the panic button with the ball in his hands, but assignment-wise he was good. He was ready from that perspective. He just has to slow down and play some ball the way he's capable of playing it."
Monday press conference
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