The following are player quotes after the Blue Team defeated the Red Team 27-21 in the Grove Bowl to conclude spring football training.
QB Robert Lane: (On missing two weeks practice with a shoulder injury) It was tough sitting out the last two weeks and not playing in the Red-Blue Game, but that (injury) is part of football. My shoulder will be fine - I just need some time to heal. I'll come back and work hard between now and August practice and I'll be ready to take another shot at the quarterback job. (On his progress pre-injury) I was doing very well. The system is not that complicated - we've pretty much installed the whole thing. I know it and so do all the quarterbacks. It's just a matter of getting reps in it and working on our fundamentals. (On working on his release and fundamentals) I've been working on getting my release quicker and in getting my arm stronger. I was starting to see some progress before the injury. It's just a matter of throwing every day. (On the mentality surrounding the team now under the new staff) It's not as laid back as it was. From the time you walk in the door until the time you leave, you are always moving. Even the meetings are high intensity. We're always moving around and doing things with energy.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: (On his spring after transferring to Ole Miss from Indiana) It was OK. It was a matter of learning a new offense, trying to adjust to a new school and trying to keep getting better. Knowing I have sit out next season, I'm just taking things one day at a time, doing the best I can one day at a time. (On his strength and conditioning) I expect to have some big gains. At Indiana, we did a lot of squats and leg presses. Here, we do a lot of cleans and fast movement lifts centered around explosion. I feel more explosive now than when I got here.Again, I'm just going to take it one day at a time so when my time does come I can help this team win.
QB Micheal Spurlock: (Assessing his spring) It went by fast. It's my last one and it was hectic learning a new offense and going out each day trying to apply it. Coach (Ed) Orgeron taught us to play and practice fast. There is only one speed here - full speed. He demands that and that's what we gave him and the rest of the coaches. That suits me fine. We are competing and the coaches are trying to put the best players on the field to help us win. We trust that we are all going to get a chance to show how we can help this team and that's all you can ask. (On the offense) It's a good offense because you never know what we are going to do. These coaches are big on figuring out mismatches and putting the right personnel on the field in the right situations. It's not only about plays you call, but about having the players on the field who can make those plays. I'm loving it right now. (On the Red-Blue Game) It was fun. We competed and fought hard, like a real game. If it hadn't been set up like it had been, I'm not sure we (Blue Team) would have won. The Red Team outplayed us in the first half, but we did some good things in the second half. (On the difference in the first half and the second half) I just went out there and played like it was practice. At first, we were all a little uncomfortable, but once we got in the rhythm of the game, we were fine and our talent started showing. (On who is the number one QB) I'll let Coach O and Coach Mazzone answer that. That's not for me to say. I just play as hard as I can play and we'll see where the chips fall. (On how far he has come mentally) Last year was supposed to be my coming out party - it didn't work out. I'm 22 years old and feel like I'm 52 sometimes. I had a lot of work to do mentally to make sure I just went to practice with getting better and having fun on my mind. I started relaxing early in the spring. I proved to myself I could play the game. It's about team and going out and playing to win. It's all about having confidence in yourself and your teammates. This spring has gone a long way in my mental development. (On getting a second chance) I'm a newborn baby. Everyone on this team has a new lease on life. We all started from ground zero and whatever they did in spring is what got them where they are right now. We know if we don't produce we are going down the depth chart and if we produce we are moving up. As Coach O said, the depth chart is etched in sand. You have to prove yourself every day. You can't win the position in one day and you have to be consistent day-in and day-out. (On taking the most number one snaps this spring) I was number one last year and it didn't work out. We have a long way to go and I have a lot to prove. Mentally, I approach every practice like I'm at the end of the line. All I think about is leading my team and doing the best I can - it doesn't matter if I'm with the ones or the threes - I still have to execute and prove I'm worthy of playing.
Utility Back Larry Kendrick: (On his role in the offense) I like what the coaches are doing with me. I will do anything to get the chance to have the ball in my hands. The coaches are giving me that opportunity. It's a lot of fun. There are more opportunities for me in this offense to get the ball and that's the way I like it. I feel rejuventated this year. Last year, I was up and down, but I tried to stay ready and make the most of any chance I got. It didn't work out, but I never got down on myself or the situation. That's part of sports - I just tried to stay ready. (On his versatility) Ever since I started playing football I have been able to do a lot of different things well. I'm glad the coaches see that and are trying to utilize me in that way. It's fun. I just have to continue to work hard and stay mentally sharp. This is a great opportunity for me.
DE Chris Bowers: (On his rise to first team this spring) I sat out last year with a redshirt and tried to get better. I just let it go this spring and everything has worked out well. (On spring training) It's high intensity all the time. High tempo. You run everywhere - I like it. (On his role in the 4-3) The Leo End I play is the outside rusher and we only have to worry about one gap instead of two. I'm asked to get upfield almost every play. I don't have to worry about two gaps, which suits me. (On standing up against the rushing game at 225 pounds) I definitely need to gain weight. I can feel 300-pound guys have some advantage sometimes. Certainly, quickness is my advantage, but I need more weight. I just wanted to be consistent this spring and do my job. I didn't want to be up-and-down and I think I gained some consistency.
RB Jamal Pittman: (On his spring) I felt I did OK. It was a good feeling for everyone to get an equal chance. We all went with the ones and the twos and the threes. Everyone got an opportunity to show what they can do. Just go hard every time. That motivated us this spring - all of us. (On the offense) It's a quick offense where you read where the holes are and make your move. I think that suits my style. (On his physical status) I feel great. All running backs get bumps and bruises, and we had a lot of contact this spring, but I feel great. I'm in the best shape of my career and it helped me this spring. I liked it today when the coaches just kept getting me the ball. (On who's number one) It's not a concern because it's not our decision. We don't talk about who's one or two or three. We're all motivated to do better because we all know we are going to get a shot.
LB Kelvin Robinson: (On grading the linebackers coming out of spring) Patrick Willis is a born linebacker. I've moved from strong safety so I had a lot to learn and didn't play well early in spring, but I think I've started catching on. Garry Pack is physical and strong and Dontae Reed stepped up his game a lot. We are all fast and we can be physical. I feel good about the LBs headed into 2005. (On playing linebacker) We are always competing among each other. Patrick and I have a contest to see who can get to the ball the fastest. We compete within the defense. That's helped me learn quicker. You have to make quicker decision at LB than you do at SS, but I have learned to enjoy that. (On winning the Chucky Mullins Award) Everyone was trying to tell me I was going to get it, but I wasn't sure. It means a lot to me. It solidifies what I was already thinking - that I need to step up and be a man. I need to lead this team to victory. I got the award - I guess - because of the effort I give and because the other players on the team respect me as much as I respect them. I think football should be fun and that's the way I play it. (On Coach O) Everybody has to play to his level of energy. He sets the tone. He sets the expectations. Everything moves fast.
OT Tre' Stallings: (On the OL) As a whole, we did pretty good. We're in a learning curve right now. We know we can play better and faster, but it's taking us time to get there. We can be better if we all learn what to do and when to do it. If a defense shifts, you have to know exactly what's changed in your assignment and technique. If you get that down, then you can play fast. We've got some inexperienced guys up front who are still getting that down. (On Bobby Harris and him being the leaders of the OL) The younger guys look to us and it's our turn to lead them the way Marcus Johnson and the guys before us led us. We're up to the task. (On the zone blocking scheme) I like it because all you have to do is get on top of the defender and the back can make his cut from there. It's not about straight physical power - it's about knowing what to do.
LB Dontae Reed: (On his rise in spring to number one LB) I am proud, but I give the credit to my coaches and teammates. They were the ones who pushed me to excel. When I was told before spring training that everyone was going to get an equal opportunity, I just let it all hang out. Some of my people back home didn't say it to my face, but I could tell they didn't think I would make it. That motivated me because I have never quit anything I started. I stuck it out and gave myself another shot once I knew Coach O was going to give me a real chance. I think I moved up the depth chart because of my speed and because I made plays. (On the future) I hope I proved some things this spring to the coaches and my teammates, but I know the position is still wide open. Garry (Pack) is tough and physical and he's also a competitor. He's not just going to give me the job. I know in my heart the battle for the job is going to be back and forth all the time. It will be hard to keep the position, but that is my intention. I need to put on 10 pounds and continue to learn from my mistakes. Everything else will take care of itself.
QB Ethan Flatt: (On the Red-Blue Game) I thought we did some good things on the Red offense, but we could have done better. We competed and made some plays, but there were more plays to be made. (On his progress this spring) Fundamentally, I think I improved, but I know I still have work to do. When Robert (Lane) got hurt, I think I took advantage of the extra reps and did some good things, but like everyone on this team, I know I can do better. All of the quarterbacks right now are a work in progress in a new system, but the system isn't real complicated and I think we all have it down pretty good. We're looking forward to a good offseason and fall camp.
Player comments from the Grove Bowl
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