The following is Coach David Cutcliffe's Monday press conference after the 28-7 loss to Alabama. Cut's opening comments are followed by questions from the media in attendance.
Cutcliffe: "Let me state the obvious - we didn't play very well and the tape backs me up. We did not handle Alabama's pressure very well offensively and we were not consistent. Defensively, we had some missed assignments that turned into big plays for them. Unfortunate for us, but you have to give them credit for taking advantage of our mistakes. Sometimes, we just got whipped. We did do some positive things. The only thing I know to do is to work ourselves out of this slump. We have to play as good as we can play - whatever that level is - which we are not doing. We have to work, focus and be the best team we can be. Regarding the QB situation, I have not had a chance to meet with any of them - Sunday is a required day off - so I'm not going to make any public comment about that until I do. I will let you know more after I talk to them or later in the week."
Q: The injury situation?
Cut: "It's long. We have been hit hard in the interior of the defensive line. DT Daniel Booth (pulled calf) is still questionable. DT Michael Bozeman (head injury) will not work today and is day-to-day. DT Chris Herring (calf injury) won't be out there today and we are not sure about his status right now. WR Kerry Johnson continues to be hampered with his hand problems. FS B. Brown (calf pull) is out. WR Taye Biddle (quad bruise) will be out. He may get in a little jogging. OG Doug Buckles is banged up and may miss today. And OT Bobby Harris (sprained ankle) is still out."
Q: Do you know your QB decision now?
Cut: "I know what I want to do, but I won't discuss it until I talk to them today."
Q: What is your evaluation of each QB?
Cut: "Micheal (Spurlock) missed a few open receivers he had chances to hit. He managed the game pretty well, but still had a few errors there in getting us in the best play we can be in. Ethan did pretty well. He threw the ball well at times and moved the team some. But he had inconsistencies too. We are aiming for 60% completions or higher and we're not close to that. We are falling far short of our expectations at that position."
Q: Where is Spurlock's confidence level right now?
Cut: "As I said, they were off Sunday, but I would imagine our whole offense's confidence is suffering."
Q: Was the physical play better this week than it was against Memphis?
Cut: "I thought it was better than against Memphis. Alabama put one more man in the box because they were not worried about our passing game, but we did some good things up front at times. Alabama was at another level in being physical, but we responded OK there other than being inconsistent. We need to take it to another level in that area as well. We had 15 runs of four or more yards in the game, 10 that were under. We have to eliminate those the best we can."
Q: Where does Robert Lane figure into the quarterback situation?
Cut: "He still figures in the mix. He's continuing to improve. He's obviously the youngest guy in the mix and has more learning to do, but I thought he had a good week of practice last week. He needs another good week this week because that will determine whether he gets an opportunity or not. He's certainly in the mix, though."
Q: Do you know how you will divide reps this week in practice?
Cut: "I have an idea, but I'm not going to comment on that until I talk to the QBs."
Q: Is it a shock to you that you are not able to throw the ball better than you are?
Cut: "We've thrown the ball well since we have been here. To see our production there now is frustrating, to say the least. The only thing I know is to keep working. Get through it. We are not going to shelve the passing game, so we have to fix it."
Q: How difficult has this lack of passing production been on you?
Cut: "Very difficult. It's frustrating for everyone involved. We have to find the answer and get it fixed."
Q: How critical is this game against Vandy?
Cut: "When you are 0-2, they are all critical. This is a major game for us. Vandy is a really good team, regardless of what happened in their opener. They are veterans in all three phases of the game and we will have to play well to win."
Q: How tough will it be that they have had two weeks to prepare for you?
Cut: "We can't worry about that. Our focus has to be on us getting better. Vandy will be good - we know that. The issue is to put the best Ole Miss team on the field that we can."
Q: Discuss Vandy QB Jay Cutler.
Cut: "He's a big, good athlete at QB. He's a very accurate passer and capable runner. He's a good leader and has been an outstanding player for them. He's a player who has continued to grow and get better with each start. I'm sure we'll see the best Jay Cutler we have seen yet."
Q: What about the newcomers that played - LB Garry Pack, S Larry Kendrick, DE Brandon Jenkins, DE Corey Mills, DT Jeremy Garrett?
Cut: "There were some positives there. They still have a lot to learn, but there were signs of ability and some understanding. We just have to keep pushing to get them ready to get on the field because they have the ability to help us."
Q: What about your OL with Marcus Johnson moving to right tackle and Ryan Jones moving up to number one RG and Tre' (Stallings) moving over. Temporary or permanent, depending on Bobby Harris' health?
Cut: "With Bobby out, that is a likely combination. We are still discussing that, but Marcus did well at tackle for not having worked out there a lot."
Q: Can you compare and contrast Micheal and Ethan?
Cut: "Micheal is a tremendous athlete with great speed, explosivess and arm. He's the fastest QB I've been around. Ethan is obviously taller. He's not as fast as Micheal, but he is athletic. He has good vision and can see the field well at 6-6. He's a solid thrower."
Q: Is QB something you will evaluate every week or something you will decide on and stick with?
Cut: "It's obviously a work in progress. We have a lot of evaluations to do - during practice and in games. We will continue to evaluate the situation daily."
Q: Will a solid passing game cure all your problems?
Cut: "It would certainly help. It would help the running game, it would move the chains, it would help us convert on third downs. We have no consistency which would allow us to open the offense up. We have to get there. And we aren't keeping the defense off the field, which we have to get accomplished. A solid passing game would help our cause in a lot of ways."
Q: Have the wide receivers done OK?
Cut: "I think they have done well except we've been beat up there a little too. With Kerry out, and a couple more pushing through some minor health problems that weren't reported, they have done OK. If they are healthy, they will be fine."
Q: How do you think Micheal will handle this type of adversity?
Cut: "Anyone who has played this game or stay involved with this game has had to handle adversity. It's part of the deal. He will be fine."
Q: Is Micheal just too quick?
Cut: "He has been very hurried. He's set up before the play has developed. His feet are getting ahead of his head when he runs. All of those things have made it difficult for him. QB is hard enough to play when you are in rhythm, but out of rhythm it's almost impossible. We have talked to him and tried different footwork. We've tried to put him in the shotgun and have experimented with a lot of things. Being too fast, or hurried, has affected everything he is doing. It affects your reads because the play has not matured yet. We have to help him find his rhythm."
Q: Have you ever been in this kind of situation before?
Cut: "I have been in situations where we didn't play well, but I don't know if I've ever been in a situation where we played this poorly. Like I said, we have to work our way out of it. Not press or panic, but focus and attention to detail. We have to be keyed up and tuned in. We have no other choice."
Monday press conference
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