Monday Press conference

The following is Ole Miss Coach David Cutcliffe's Monday press conference after the disappointing 21-17 loss to Tennessee. The Rebs have an open date this weekend and will resume play against powerhouse Auburn on October 30 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Cutcliffe's opening comment: We did some good things against Tennessee. We just came up short making plays at the end that you have to make to win. There is progress being made. We will practice Tuesday-Thursday, but the most important thing is for us to get healthy. We will familiarize ourselves with Auburn a little bit, but we will still focus on Ole Miss and getting better ourselves. I will give the team Friday-Sunday off and we will resume next Monday.

Q: Mostly light practices this week?

Cut: We haven't met as a staff yet in terms of our exact practice routine this week, but we certainly aren't going to do anything real physical. We'll just try to keep our timing, keep sharp from an assignment standpoint and do some conditioning.

Q: What is your redshirt situation right now? Will anyone who hasn't been playing get any time?

Cut: No. We are set for this year. We will redshirt those who have not played. I think Garry Pack is the only true freshman who has played other than Corey Mills and it appears we will be applying for a medical redshirt for him due to his pulled groin not responding to treatment. We will also redshirt Danny Bell. We will work with the young players some this week to get more evaluation and to give them more looks into our systems.

Q: How did DT Chris Herring do against UT?

Cut: We have not greaded our game tape yet because we have been watching film on recruits yesterday and today, but our whole defensive front did a nice job after Tennessee's initial drive. I don't know exactly how many snaps Chris got, but I know I liked seeing him in the lineup and healthy. He's a quality player.

Q: In the last two games, do you think your players are getting better or is the execution better?

Cut: I'm sure it's a combination of both. When you play seven games in a row, you should get better in both areas. We are executing a lot of things better at times, but we are still having trouble being consistent on offense. Against UT, we had a hard time with their defensive front. We didn't have long enough to throw the ball and didn't have many running lanes open up. We had our moments, but it wasn't nearly consistent enough.

Q: Is there a danger when you are using different quarterbacks in different situations to become predictable. For instance, they may know Ethan's coming in to throw the ball on third downs?

Cut: It's certainly something you have to be aware of and something we have charted. We also changed some things from the USC game to the UT game. We measure it and pay attention to it and make sure it doesn't become a tendency. I don't know if we will continue with the three-quarterback system or not, but we use all the tools available to keep things from being predictable.

Q: Did you think the three quarterback rotation was good last Saturday?

Cut: Not really because the offense, as a whole, was not very good. It's hard to say if we would have been better with one than three, I don't know. All three handled it well. It didn't cause any problems with continuity, but we just have to do a better job offensively period, not just at quarterback. I think what was mentioned earlier about being predictable is something we have to be very aware of. We are evaluating the situation week to week. We try to evaluate what each guy is getting done in practice and what we think they can handle in the games. We may continue the three-QB system and we may not.

Q: How is your team's confidence level?

Cut: I believe it is better than it was. We've played two tough SEC games in a row and won one and went toe-to-toe in the other. There's no reason for us not to be confident. I think every player realizes we can play with anyone if we play at the level we are capable of playing. That's the challenge - to play to the level of our ability. We will take every game as if it is a one-game season and go from there. We need that kind of focus to be competitive and to win.

Q: Can you help the mental aspect of the game during the open week?

Cut: I think the time away from the game will be helpful to them. It will give them a chance to get refreshed for the stretch run. We won't have any lengthy practices. We'll just keep them crisp and keep them focused, but we are going to rest them a good bit this week.

Q: You haven't had any problems with the center snap using three QBs.

Cut: Don't jinx us. Chris Spencer has done a good job of handling that. We have tried to make the cadence the same as much as we can. All the players have handled that well.

Q: How much more of the offense did Robert Lane have against UT?

Cut: A little more. We will keep adding as the weeks click by. He knows he has work to do to be completely comfortable with what our quarterbacks have to do and he's working hard at it. It's going to happen for him.

Q: Some defensive players after the game Saturday said they liked playing the base defense because it simplified things for them. Can we expect more of that?

Cut: It does appear we have played better - at times - when we simplify things. That's always a good lesson to remember. You always try to get in the right thing to get help in the right places per formation and per personnel groupings. But it all goes back to playing blockers and tackling well. Maybe when you are not thinking so much, you do those things better. There's a fine line there. You have to mix things up some, but you have to make it understandable for your players as well.

Q: What about injuries?

Cut: Nothing got worse. There were no real surprises. Hopefully we'll get some guys back playing 100%. Our entire OL went into that game less than 100% - we have been playing a lot of kids at 80-85%. We need to get them back to 100% this week.

Q: You played more people on the DL. Did that help?

Cut: No question. We were able to keep everyone fresh the whole way. The starters are playing the bulk of the snaps, but we were able to keep them fresh. I thought it was very evident we were better defensively in the second half than we were in the first half.

Q: What are your initial thoughts on Auburn?

Cut: I've watched them on TV, but haven't studied tape on them. They are very balanced on offense. They are throwing the ball extremely well and we all know they can run it. Their OL is playing well. They present a lot of problems on defense. They can really run and they chase the ball with abandon. They are playing as well as anyone in the country right now.

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