Monday Press Conference

Coach Ed Orgeron held the first of his weekly press conferences this season prior to Monday's game against Memphis at Liberty Bowl Stadium. Two items stuck out - he did not name a starting QB, stating the competition was still open; and he stated he has let sophomore TB Alan Abrams back on the team and that he is eligible to play against the Tigers in the opener. Read about it inside.

The following are highlights of Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron's Monday press conference prior to next Monday's season opening gootball game against the Memphis Tigers.

Orgeron Opening Remarks: We're excited about game week and our first game together. We are pumped up and pleased the way camp went and the way our guys competed. We had a very tough camp, but the cream rose to the top in most positions.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the everyone involved in Hurricane Katrina. We hope everyone is very safe and everything goes well for them.

I'm really excited heading into this opener for our team and the Ole Miss Rebel family. We have to establish who we are and the type of program we are going to have here.

I was really pleased with the development of the offense under Coach (Noel) Mazzone. Our running backs have surfaced the last few days with Jamal Pittman, Brandon Jacobs and Mico McSwain. We have let Alan Abrams back on the team under certain circumstances which I believe he will follow. Our offensive line has progressed well. Coach George DeLeone has done a fine job there. The OL was a question mark going into camp, but we have made progress to this point. Hopefully we will get (OG) David Traxler back this week. The wide receiver position seems to be very strong - they have come on well under the direction of Coach Matt Lubick, who has done a great job with them. We have three tight ends who are able to play and I feel good about that.

At quarterback, we thought we'd be naming a starter today, but due to the competition level - which is very positive - between Robert Lane and Micheal Spurlock, we are not naming one today. I think Robert has come on very strong of late and that has given us reason to keep that position open and decide right before the game. We will go into the game with one starting QB and hope he plays the entire game, but we feel good about being able to bring in the other one if things don't go according to plan. We feel comfortable with both, but right now it's being kept open.

Defensively, we feel good about our three seniors up front. Michael Bozeman has had an excellent camp and has been named one of the permanent team captains. He is very representative of our defense - tough and strong. On offense, we have named OT Tre' Stallings as a permanent captain. I wanted to name two linemen because we have to be strong and physical up front and those two guys represent that philosophy very well. DT McKinley Boykin is coming along well, but has not progressed, because of his knee rehab, as well as we had hoped. I don't believe he is 100%, so Jeremy Garrett, who has an excellent camp, has been rotating with him. DE Jayme Mitchell has come along very well with freshman Lamark Armour backing him up. I believe Corvelli Haynes has won the starting spot at the LEO due to becomming an excellent pass rusher during camp. Chris Bowers will back him up. I really feel we could be strong on the line.

At linebacker, we are excited about Patrick Willis leading the linebackers we have. We feel we have developed some depth there with some of our younger guys and don't be surprised if you see frosh LeRon King, who we moved from DE, playing some there this year. He's come along very well.

In the secondary, Nate Banks, Travis Johnson, Trumaine McBride, Charles Clark and Jamarca Sanford have had excellent camps. I feel we will be good back there.

In the kicking game, Will Moseley has shown he can perform all three duties, but Matt Hinkle will handle the short field goals right now. I am really pleased with the system Special Teams Coordinator Chris Rippon has installed. He's an excellent coach and we are using our best players that will make us very exciting and effective.

We have been looking at Memphis for a couple of days. They return 10 starters on defense with Joe Lee Dunn being their coordinator. They can present a lot of problems with their blitzing and they are effective in that game. We have to be able to protect the QB and run the ball to negate it. On offense, TB DeAngelo Williams is one of the best players we will face all year. He's an all-purpose back who runs and catches very well. He'll get passes, create mismatches for him. WR Maurice Avery is a very good player as well. We don't know much about their QB or their four new OL, which we have not been able to scout, but we know Tommy West does a great job of coaching. We are looking forward to the competition.

Q: Any other OL that may return this week?

Coach O: Darryl Harris is questionable and I don't expect him back. We are going to push him, but I don't think it's going to happen. Andrew Wicker could be back at practice Wednesday.

Q: Does not naming a starting QB alter practice plans any?

Coach O: It may a little. We are pushing this thing as hard as we can and each will get a chance. I thought the decision would be made by now, but I credit Robert for making it a fight. Micheal has gone out every day and competed well, but it's very close in our eyes right now.

Q: Do you expect freshmen RBs Kendrick Perry or Antonio Turner to play soon?

Coach O: We moved Kendrick to FB the other day and it's a little early for him to play now. It's an assignment deal with him right now. They will both play eventually, but they are not ready right now.

Q: What has Robert done to tighten the QB race up?

Coach O: Competed and moved the offense. I feel good with him out there. I like his stature and demeanor. I think Noel has been impressed with his grasp of the offense and he has thrown the ball better.

Q: How is your family with Katrina looming?

Coach O: They are currently at my house and the gumbo is cooking. Thanks for asking.

Q: What is your evaluation of Williams?

Coach O: He's low to the ground and breaks a lot of tackles. He's also in the perfect scheme for his talents. He usually makes the first guy miss, he's extremely quick and he has great lower body strength to go with good balance.

Q: Is there any contingency plan for practice with the storm coming that way?

Coach O: We don't have one. We are practicing inside in our beautiful IPF and should not be affected a bit.

Q: Memphis uses misdirection, reverses, trick plays. How do you defend those?

Coach O: They are a matter of recognition. Can't play those, but you have to recognize them pretty quickly. Also, the right calls at the right times helps.

Q: Is it an advantage with Memphis having a new QB who has never played?

Coach O: If we stop him it's an advantage, if not it's not an advantage. It can work both ways with new players. We don't know much about him so it's hard to gameplan him. It will take us a quarter or two to figure out what they are doing with him.

Q: What is the key to stopping DeAngelo?

Coach O: The same as any great back, great tackling. When you get a shot at him, make it count.

Q: Are there similarities between Williams and Reggie Bush?

Coach O: Reggie is faster than DeAngelo, but DeAngelo is stronger. DeAngelo can make you miss inside and he's a strong back in his lower body. Real strong legs.

Q: Talk more about your LBs.

Coach O: They'll have a lot of responsibility with perimeter stuff and keeping DeAngelo off the edges. They will have to make a one-on-one tackle on him sometimes and they have to execute. Garry Pack has had a very good camp, Dontae Reed has been OK. Willis is doing fine - I expect a big game from him. Kelvin Robinson had a good camp, but wore down some toward the end. Now he's fine, but Quentin Taylor came on strong during gamp. We feel good, overall, about the LBs.

Q: Two parts: Has DT Brandon Jenkins fallen off some and can Abrams play against Memphis?

Coach O: Yes, Abrams can play against Memphis. Two, Brandon has dropped off a little bit. He will still play, but he needs a good week of practice. We are still trying to determine if he is better inside or outside, but we need him to progress.

Q: What about Robert Russell?

Coach O: Physically, he's ready. Mentally, he's not. He may get a couple of snaps to spell Willis, but he's not ready to run our whole defense yet.

Q: Has Robert Hough maintained first team at TE?

Coach O: I think Lawrence Lilly is moving ahead now. He got moved down a couple of weeks ago and has responded to that competition. We may need a little bigger TE than Hough, but all three - with Jimmy Brooks in there - should be considered starters. We'll name a starter later this week, but a lot will depend on our gameplan and how we are going to use the TE in this contest.

Q: How do you settle freshmen down before their first game?

Coach O: Hopefully, our practices have simulated toughness, speed and some adversity so they should be ready, but I will probably tell them something funny to settle them down. I will put my arm around them and assure them that if we put them in that we will be confident in them. You have to coddle them just a little more.

Q: How has SS Gary Riggs developed?

Coach O: He's coming along - a very good athlete. The more he understands the defense, the more he'll play. He's second team right now.

Q: How is Larry Kendrick doing?

Coach O: We still want to move him around and put him in positions to make plays, but he's been inconsistent this camp after a great spring. He needs to have a good week this week.

Q: Have you settled anything in the return game?

Coach O: Mike Espy, Taye Biddle and Burnell Wallace will handle that with Espy getting the most action.

Q: What about McSwain at TB?

Coach O: Mico needs to get some snaps. He's explosive, quick and gives us an extra dimension on offense. We need to fit him into our gameplan some.

Q: Explain kicking situation.

Coach O: Moseley will kick long field goals, kickoffs and punt. Hinkle will kick our short field goals.

Q: When did your family evacuate Louisiana?

Coach O: We got them here Saturday. We have others too we are concerned about. RB Coach Frank Wilson's family is here and some players' families are heading this way. We are very concerned. We have talked to our players about it.

Q: Who will be your holder?

Coach O: We haven't decided yet.

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