The following are the highlights of Rebel Coach Ed Orgeron's Monday press conference.
Opening statement: We are excited to open up SEC play against a very good Vanderbilt team. Obviously, they are coming off two big road game wins and we are expecting a big-time battle in Nashville Saturday. Our team is fired up - we had a very good practice yesterday. Today, we will be off and will resume practice tomorrow. We are looking forward to this week and playing in our first SEC game.
Q: Has anything been resolved with the field goal kicking and running game situations?
Coach O: In field goal kicking, freshman Justin Sparks has been given an opportunity to show us what he can do. To this point, he has been inconsistent. We will probably continue with the guys we used in the opener, but we will continue to chart kicks this week. . . As far as the run game, we have been working very hard on that. Mico McSwain has gotten more carries and has improved and Alan Abrams has come to the front as a good zone runner who we intend to play more. We have been working extensively on the base plays and getting things done correctly.
Q: What about Vandy's offense? Your impressions?
Coach O: I'm really impressed with Jay Cutler. He's a competitor. He's found a way for his team to win in the late stages of games. He has thrown the ball very well and last year he ran the option well. I think he is the key to their offense. They run the right plays, they are very well-coached and they have a great scheme. I think their receivers, Erik Davis in particular, are really good. Their OL is also pretty good. I think they are solid on offense.
Q: How many game films from last year will you look at on Vandy?
Coach O: All of them, plus the two games this year. They seem to be a little different this year. They are spreading out a little more and throwing more. We are going to prepare for everything. I watched the first two games of this year this morning and Cutler is throwing the ball very well.
Q: Have you used your QB, Micheal Spurlock, to simulate the Vandy option in practice?
Coach O: Yes. The whole key to defending the option is to be able to create it in practice near to game speed. So we used Micheal yesterday in certain periods to simulate the options they like to run.
Q: Have you gained any more confidence in your placekicking?
Coach O: No. It hasn't happened. We haven't gotten to the point where I can say I have gained confidence. Hopefully, we will this week. We will make our decisions later this week as to who will kick which field goals.
Q: Your LBs were challenged to stop DeAngelo in the opener. We would assume your secondary will be challenged with the aerial attack of Vandy's this week. Correct?
Coach O: They are going to get tested, probably on the first play. He likes to open it up and throw deep. We will have to have an excellent scheme in the secondary and we will have to have an excellent scheme in getting to the quarterback. We can't give him all day to throw. We will definitely be challenged this week.
Q: You expressed some disappointment in the tight ends last week. Have they improved since then?
Coach O: Yes, but they are still not where they need to be. Hopefully we can get the ball to them more and use them in our offense more. We need to get back to the basic offense I brought in from USC and get back to fundamentals. I had a chance to spend some time with Coach (Pete) Carroll in California over the weekend and work out some of the kinks we have on offense. I feel good about the direction we are going.
Q: Cna you update us on the competition between DTs McKinley Boykin and Jeremy Garrett and has McKinley done better in practice?
Coach O: Jeremy is the starter right now and McKinley will have to catch up. McKinley's practice habits have picked up some, but they are not where they need to be.
Q: Has Mico's learning curve increased in terms of understanding the offense?
Coach O: Yes, some. We have spent a lot of time with him recently. I'd say he is about 75% now toward learning the complete package.
Q: What about the Vandy defense?
Coach O: They have really good linebackers, guys who make plays. They have a preseason All-SEC guy in Moses (Osemwegie) - I'm not going to try his last name (laughs) - who is very good. Their strong safety and a defensive end are very, very good. Their defensive scheme is very similar to ours, which should help us. They do a very good job on defense.
Q: Do you expect to see more eight-man fronts?
Coach O: Yes. But our offense is designed to run against eight-man fronts. We just did not get it done. The offense I brought in should be able to attack eight-man fronts better, but we also have to complete passes downfield to get defenses on their heels. They were there last week and we just didn't hit them, either for protection reasons, throwing reasons or catching reasons.
Q: How are your experiments with personnel on the OL going?
Coach O: We are getting to be solid at right guard with Michael Oher there. Michael may start Saturday - we'll see this week. We have to improve the center spot. Darryl Harris did not practice yesterday, but I expec thim to practice Tuesday and see what he can do. Right now, Tony Bonds is at center for us. Those guys have got to produce for us. Thomas Eckers is doing well, but Michael is such a great talent - so big and so fast - that he should be able to bring us some help in the middle of our line. He's just got to learn more. I feel comfortable he can start this week, but I'm not saying that 100% right now. We will have to roate up front. We used nine guys last week and will continue to do that in the near future at least.
Q: What is your FG plan if you had to play tomorrow?
Coach O: Hinkle with the short ones, Moseley with the long ones and Sparks still competing to break through.
Q: You used frosh Rob Park holding yesterday. Are you going to make that move?
Coach O: We are thinking about it. We don't prefer our first-team QB holding like Micheal has. We'd hate for him to break a finger holding on kicks. We will see how Park does this week. It's a tough decision becuase we don't really want to burn a redshirt over him just holding, but right now he is the next best guy and we will do what we have to do for the team.
Q: Is Jamal Pittman still the primary runner?
Coach O: No, he's not. He's got to come on and produce at a higher rate. That position is wide open. You got a guy for me? We need a lot more production out of TB. We realize there weren't many holes there, but the TBs still have to produce more. We've gone back and corrected some things. We went back and looked at some USC tapes and made some adjustments based on that running attack.
Q: How did Pete Carroll grade your first game on the sidelines?
Coach O: He said a lot of positive things, but then he got on me about a few things too. Overall, he was pleased and just as excited as was about the win. He was a little nervous about the last series and corrected me on a few things, but overall he was complimentary.
Monday Press Conference
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