The following is Coach David Cutcliffe's Monday press conference after the Vanderbilt game and prior to the Wyoming game in Laramie next Saturday. It begins with his opening statement.
Cutcliffe: As I said Saturday, I was proud of our team coming back to win the game against Vanderbilt, but we are still an inconsistent football team in many ways and still have a long way to go to become a good team. After viewing the tape, we were fortunate to come out of it on top in some respects. We continue to be a beat up football team. At this stage, we know WR Bill Flowers is out with a lacerated kidney. I don't know what kind of time frame we are looking at with him and we have a number of others we are evaluating on a day-to-day basis. We will have light work today, so it will be tomorrow before we can get a true evaluation of our injury situation and to what their readiness is.
Q: Wouldn't you agree that the main thing for your team was to just get a win?
Cut: There's no doubt we needed a win. The taste of victory is certainly sweet. It should carry over into making us more energetic at practice. We should be anxious to get back to work and get better. Otherwise, it probably would have been like pulling teeth. As I said, I'm really proud we came back and got the win, but it's important we all understand how far we have to go.
Q: Could you sense the comeback on the sidelines?
Cut: When Trumaine McBride made the interception and the return for good field position, you could feel a surge of energy. We were able to punch that in and score the TD. From that point on, we got a shot in the arm and showed more energy.
Q: What do you attribute the improved pressure on the opposing QB to?
Cut: Our pressure package worked and our kids executed better via hard work during the week before. We have individuals who are good pass rushers, but they have to bring those skills out in games and get it done. We got it done against Vandy more often. I saw some carry over from how we had practiced last Wednesday and Thursday.
Q: After watching films, what was you evaluation of QB Ethan Flatt's performance?
Cut: He did a really nice job of managing the game for us. He was pretty accurate and threw for a good percentage. He threw to the right places most of the time. He handled Vandy's pressure pretty well and played with poise.
Q: Are there any challenges of a long road trip?
Cut: We have to bus away from here to fly out, so we are used to that. It's just a little longer plane ride, which should not affect us. We have some issues getting back to Oxford quickly, but that will not affect the game. We'll handle that OK.
Q: Did Etrhan's performance change anything in the QB situation, particularly with Micheal Spurlock?
Cut: I haven't made that decision yet. Micheal is still a good football player and a part of our offense. Ethan's performance warrants that he is the starter, but Micheal still has an opportunity. We haven't decided on how much he'll play against Wyoming yet.
Q: How hard has it been for those two to live in the shadow of Eli Manning?
Cut: I think it's mostly been an issue for Micheal because he was our opening starter and the heir apparent. He was asked every day about that and handled it well, but it created a lot of pressure. It would on anyone. Following a great player is not easy. He tried to handle it by trying to be the best Micheal Spurlock he could be, but I think, in the end, it has affected him some to follow Eli, as it would most players.
Q: Will Ethan feel that pressure as well?
Cut: I don't think it's been an issue with him. The focus is different now. Every individual understands we all have to get better to have a good football team. The focus has changed considerably. Everyone knows we have to play better than we have played and QB is just one of the positions with that goal.
Q: What are your initial impressions of Wyoming?
Cut: They are very multiple on offense and defense and are extremely well-coached. They are doing a good job on that staff. Wyoming is a capable team - very quick and a team that plays extremely hard. They do a lot of good things and force you to execute on both sides of the ball. We'll have to execute well.
Q: With Flowers out, how does that affect your WR rotation?
Cut: We may have to move some people around a little. Mike Espy can play that position, as can Kerry Johnson. We may move up Frank Clayton into the rotation. A lot will depend on this week's practice. We'll make decisions on that in a couple of days and adjust accordingly.
Q: Talk about using your FBs as runners in the Vandy game.
Cut: I think they are capable runners - Rick Razzano and Lorenzo Townsend. We want to get them involved. They are physical guys with good ability. I see them continuing to be a part of what we do.
Q: Will altitude be a problem in Wyoming?
Cut: I think we'll be fine. I think our kids may like lower temperatures and less humidity.
Q: What progress did you see from your defense in the Vandy game?
Cut: We played much better at the end of the game. In the third quarter, it appeared we weren't going to hold up. We have to stop the run a little better overall and we gave up some easy throws and catches. At times, we played well, but at times we were inconsistent, like I discussed earlier. We also have to get some people healthy. We have some out and some playing that are banged up. We need to get back to our normal rotation.
Q: Can you run down the injury report beyond Flowers?
Cut: We talked about 20 kids in our staff meeting this morning who are injured or banged up. Mainly, though, I'm concerned about DT Michael Bozeman (concussion), DT Chris Herring (calf muscle pull), DE Corey Mills (groin), DT Daniel Booth (calf muscle), LT Bobby Harris (sprained ankle), RG Tony Bonds (minor knee) and RT Tre' Stallings (minor knee). Some of these are not serious, but we need them to get healthy in a hurry.
Q: What challenge do you have of bridging the results of the end of the Vandy game to next week's game?
Cut: I hope the end of the Vandy game energizes our practices. At times last week, it was a struggle at practice and I don't anticipate that this week. I think we will have more of a sense of urgency in our practices and that will help us get more consistent in our execution.
Q: Are you starting to see more leadership or unity develop now?
Cut: I thought there was a spark of that last Wednesday and Thursday at practice. People were calling on people, challenging them. I was not happy early in the week, as you know. That started it. Then at halftime we had a good response to coming back, even though we didn't get it done in the third quarter. I thought we held it together until we got the spark from Trumaine and it seemed contagious then. That needs to carry over day-to-day, week-to-week. Hopefully that was a good sign for the future.
Monday Press Conference
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