The following are the highlights of today's press conference with Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron - now 1-0 after the 10-6 victory over Memphis Monday.
Opening Statement: This is an important week for our program because now we have a game film to draw from. We have evaluated everything from A to Z and we are going to go out there today attacking what needs correcting. The goal of the game was to win and I was pleased we did. I didn't care how we won it, just get it done. I thought our team deserved the win. We have worked very hard to get to this point and I'm happy for them.
The bright spots of the game were Mario Hill and Taye Biddle at WR, our OTs did a good job and QB Micheal Spurlock made plays in spurts, especially the fourth-down TD run and the run out of the end zone to give us some breathing room. We need to be able to connect on the long passes when they present themselves. We could have put the game away with some of those throws and catches. We also have to improve on our protection and our running game has to improve a lot.
On defense, I was really pleased with that side of the ball. Patrick Willis had a great game, Kelvin Robinson was awesome and Garry Pack did a fine job. Coach Shawn Slocum had the LBs ready to go - they were flying around and bottled up DeAngelo (Williams) most of the day. I was very pleased with the way we tackled, overall. Patrick made SEC Player of the Week and I'm happy for him because he's always working. We called to tell him and we couldn't find him he won. He was in the film room on his own watching tape when we finally tracked him down. That's how he is. The turnovers in the second half were a big key - we teach that and coach it and it paid off. Up front, Michael Bozeman did a very good job. Jayme Mitchell, Jeremy Garrett and Corvelli Haynes were OK. In the secondary, SS Jamarca Sanford showed me in the games what he has shown us all camp. He's our best tackler and was all over the field. Charles Clark did a great job. Part of our gameplan was moving our safeties up and back and I think that caused some confusion. Coach (Chris) Rippon had those guys coached up and I was proud of them. Trumaine McBride's interception was a turning point in the game and Travis Johnson did a pretty good job.
On our special teams, I was pleased with kickoffs - the one to start the second half saved me a little! Our coverage teams were pretty good. I was really disappointed with our field goal kicking - we have to find out who can get that done. We are going to give those two more chances, but we are going to bring some others along too. Our punting needs to be more consistent.
Q: Does Justin Sparks fit into the kicking game?
Coach O: We are going to give Justin a chance this week and show a little more patience with Matt Hinkle. I think we put too much on Will Moseley asking him to do all three in the first game. Too much pressure and shock for him right now.
Q: Is Justin healthy?
Coach O: Yes. He's been hurt, but he's fine now.
Q: Where were your running game woes?
Coach O: A combination of missing blocks, backs not doing well and the Memphis defense. We have to get back to basics. Memphis' blitzing all the time took away a lot of our run game and some of our run game gameplan just didn't work. Memphis has a good defense, but regardless of what defense we are seeing, we have to do better fundamentally. We got out of whack and away from our fundamentals. We can correct that.
Q: Were the holes there?
Coach O: There weren't many holes there. A bright spot I didn't mention was TB Mico McSwain. Outside, we made some yards, but there was nothing inside and it was a combination of the things I discussed. Sometimes there was a hole there and we didn't hit it, sometimes there was no hole to hit. We've got to get more reps with Darryl Harris, Andrew Wicker and David Traxler. The lack of reps in practice hurt us there.
Q: How tough is your defense compared to USC?
Coach O: We have a lot of games to go before we get close to USC's defense, but it's very similar in concepts and I think our LBs are comparable. I like the way our DBs are playing. I don't think we've been tested yet in terms of determining how good we are, but we played well against Memphis. We are about to face a QB who will test us. I think we are pretty tough, physically, but I'm not ready to say that 100% yet. We need to get more game-tested before I will declare that.
Q: Did the unorthodox defense Joe Lee Dunn ran hurt you in the running game?
Coach O: I think if we face more conventional defenses like we run, and we can practice better against it, it will help us in our production.
Q: What is the confidence level of the PKs right now?
Coach O: It is probably at zero. I was truthful with them - there is no way they should have missed those two kicks. They will have to regain some confidence in practice and in games. Their confidence is not very high and it probably shouldn't be. Those kicks were big.
Q: Will you go for it on fourth down more because of that PK uncertainty?
Coach O: If I can get the same results, I'd go for it every time. (Laughs) Who knows? We may have to. I really thought we'd be consistent in our FG kicking, but obviously we aren't there yet.
Q: How are you going to handle your RBs?
Coach O: We are going to get Mico McSwain the ball more in practice and see who performs before naming a starter for the Vandy game. He has to become more familiar with our offense so we can do something with him besides just pitching him the ball on the outside. He has to learn to run inside and I think he can. He's proved he can run the ball, now he has to learn the offense, learn to run inside and pass block.
Q: What about the tight ends not getting any passes?
Coach O: Memphis took a lot of that away from us with the coverages they were using. We are thin at tight end and we are a little disappointed in the way they played. They didn't block very well and we need to get better at that position.
Q: How is Spurlock's confidence?
Coach O: I don't gauge it from last yeare. I have never seen Mike without confidence. I saw no signs during the game of his confidence going down. I only know a confident Micheal Spurlock.
Q: What about Alab Abrams?
Coach O: He needs to compete in practice and become a good back for us. Hopefully he will become good, but he has to buy in our system a little more and practice like we want him to practice or he will not play.
Q: Conditioning of your team looked good.
Coach O: I was very proud of our conditioning. I did not see one of our guys on the ground or cramping or bent over tired. I saw nobody tired at all and nobody got hurt. Credit S&C Coach Aaron Ausmus, the staff and the way we practice. It showed in the game.
Q: What about the QB situation now?
Coach O: Micheal will start against Vanderbilt unless he doesn't practice well. I can't say 'you're the guy and I'm going with you no matter what.' We don't have that guy right now. If Micheal is in the game and he's not running the offense and scoring points the way we want him to, I will put in Robert Lane.
Q: What about the delay of game penalties?
Coach O: We need to hurry up in practice some. It was a combination of late calls and Micheal going too slow. We will fix that.
Q: What was going on with the deep balls?
Coach O: We had some one-on-one coverages and had their guys beat, but we overthrew some and dropped some. A couple of times we had receivers open and did not have the protection. It's very simple - protection, throws and catches. You have to execute when you get the opportunities we had against Memphis.
Q: What is your practice schedule?
Coach O: We will sprinkle in some Vandy looks, with their option game, this week, but we will concentrate a lot of correcting what we did wrong in the opener. We will be in shells today and tomorrow, off Friday and Saturday, practice in full pads Sunday, take Monday off and start the game week preparations Tuesday, back on our normal schedule.
Q: Talk about your demeanor on the sidelines.
Coach O: It's important for me to be calm during games. In practice, I can be more emotional and try to generate energy for the team. But in games there are decisions where you have to be focused and alert. I thoroughly enjoyed calling a game for my first time, but there is a lot more thinking involved than just being a defensive line coach. A couple of times, I was able to show some emotion and energy, but I wanted to stay under control at all times because you never know what's coming next. It was a good learning experience for me, but I loved every minute of it. It's natural for me to be emotional, but I was very calm and confident Monday.
Q: What about McKinley Boykin?
Coach O: McKinley's knee is not 100% and his conditioning is off. He knows he has to practice better and get that knee right. Jeremy Garrett is also playing better. McKinley just needs a little time to get right.
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