Monday press conference

The following is Ole Miss Coach David Cutcliffe's Monday press conference. The Rebs will practice Tuesday-Thursday during this open week and get ready for their next foe - Arkansas in Fayetteville a week from Saturday.

Cut's opening remark: Obviously, penalties and getting whipped in the kicking game made it difficult for us to compete against a team the caliber of Auburn. We shot ourselves in the foot repeatedly in those areas. Defensively, we didn't tackle well enough overall. We could have minimized some plays had we tackled a little better and maintained better leverage on the ball. They are the type of team who takes advantages of mistakes and turns them into big plays. They throw a one-yard layoff, we miss a tackle and they turn it into a 50-yard gain. Offensively, we were inconsistent. We did some things well at times, but the inconsistency just didn't allow us to control the game. They got better as the game progressed and we didn't.

Q: Traditionally, you give up minimal snaps. Auburn had seven. Where was the protection breakdown?

Cut: We just got whipped individually. We had blockers getting whipped. We think our scheme was sound, but their ends, for the most part, were the biggest factor. We also had one missed assignment, but most of it was just getting beaten. We didn't hold up.

Q: Where is the team right now? How do you feel about the team finishing strongly?

Cut: We obviously don't feel good at 3-5 and just coming off a three-touchdown loss. I wish we were playing this weekend, but we're not. We do have some injuries to deal with. Overall, I think we have a chance. We just have to play as good as we can play and we aren't doing that. And that is my responsibility.

Q: How is the demeanor of the team?

Cut: I haven't been around them since Saturday night. I will find out tomorrow in practice. But when you lose, there are always issues that have to be dealt with. That's part of it. It was awfully quiet Saturday night after the game, I know that. I expect this team to rebound, but attitude hasn't been a factor. We just have to play better.

Q: Injuries?

Cut: DE Jayme Mitchell, we found out today, has a cracked bone in his foot and is out indefinitely. Andrew Wicker had his knee scoped Friday and he's out indefinitely. We are banged up, but besides those two, we should be OK against Arkansas.

Q: What were some good things from the game?

Cut: We got our wide receivers more involved and hit two big plays. We blocked them some of the time on offense and we held up physically for three quarters on defense. We were not mismatched or blown out physically until the end. Outside that, there's not much good in a 35-14 loss.

Q: Robert Lane threw the ball a little more. Did you go into the game knowing that?

Cut: As I said last week, Robert is quickly becoming a more complete player. He understands what we want of him. The situation is still such that we don't have a clear-cut starter at QB. Ethan (Flatt) had a little bit of a hot hand and is a little further along in the dropback game. We knew we were going to let Robert throw the ball against Auburn. We can't just put him in there to run - the opposition would figure that out quickly. Robert played better.

Q: With Micheal Spurlock's role decreasing, is there any possibility of seeing him anywhere else?

Cut: No, not right now. What we'll do in the future, I can't speculate on right now.

Q: How do you approach the next three games?

Cut: One at a time. The players understand they have to win all three to become bowl eligible and to have a winning season, but we can't get there unless we win the first one.

Q: Is there an added sense of urgency now?

Cut: I think we always have a sense of urgency here, but this is different for us. Our backs are against a wall - we have no choice but to do better in order to accomplish any of our goals.

Q: Talk about Jamal Pittman's showing.

Cut: It was nice to see a back break tackles. I thought he was into it and had two or three nice runs where he pushed the pile forward. His power is evident. Hopefully he can help us more down the final three-game stretch. His hamstring has been hurt most of the year, but I he's finally healthy and ready to go.

Q: How much of the onus for turning it around is on the shoulders of the seniors?

Cut: We have not had a good year to this point, but I wouldn't blame the seniors. Certainly, their leadership, intensity and focus will be necessary as we wind the season down, but I wouldn't criticize them for what they have done thus far. You can't be penalized and play the kicking game the way we did and expect to win. Everybody is responsible for that, but it's my job to see that those things don't happen.

Q: Does the special teams performance make you rethink your decision not to have a special teams coordinator?

Cut: No. Prior to this game, we have had pretty good special teams play. We didn't punt well against Auburn. We have been covering kickoffs and returning kickoffs well. Our field goals and extra point operation has been real good. We have not done a great job in punt return, but I don't think it has anything to do with the way we split up the special teams duties among the staff.

Q: Talk about DT McKinley Boykin.

Cut: He plays hard and is a physically gifted player with great pride. He's one who is beat up a little right now, but we know we are going to get everything he's got out there on Saturdays.

Q: Was there a pattern to your penalties?

Cut: No, they were of every variety. Block in the back, holding, facemask, pass interference, etc.

Q: What is your practice schedule this week?

Cut: Tuesday-Thursday, then we will be off Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We will have some coaches gone Thursday and Friday. They will be recruiting, so Thursday's work will be skeleton work. I haven't decided what types of practices we will have this week.

Q: Was TB Vashon Pearson's disciplinary action carry over or was it a one-game deal?

Cut: One game. Q: How does Jamal's availability affect the tailback rotation?

Cut: I'm not sure yet. We have to look at that closely. We know he has to figure in, but we don't know how much. A lot will depend on how healthy he stays. We need him to be healthy.

Q: Will Jayme's injury require surgery?

Cut: Not that we are aware of right now.

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