Monday Press Conference

The following is a transcript of the weekly Monday press conference with Ole Miss Football Coach Ed Orgeron after the Wyoming loss and prior to the UM-Tennessee game this weekend in Knoxville.

Coach Orgeron's Opening Statement: After reviewing the game film from Wyoming, we are really excited about the play of TB Mico McSwain. He brings a lot to our offense and we need to get him the ball more. I was very pleased, also, with freshman TB Antonio Turner. He ran the ball very hard and he fits what we want in our offense. On defense, we were pleased with our halftime adjustments and fixing what we were doing wrong against a couple of plays, especially the screen they hurt us on. We stopped it in the second half. We were also pleased with the play of CB Trumaine McBride and the tremendous job DB Coach Chris Rippon is doing with our secondary. We had several sudden changes in the second half and held them to a field goal three out of four times and I was happy with LB Kelvin Robinson's interception. I was also encouraged by PK Robert Bass and his kicking of extra points.

On the negative side, the turnovers, the critical penalties and we gave up too many yards on defense again. The time of possession hurt us, third-down conversions hurt badly, the big yards on the screen passes in the first half were bad and we missed a lot of tackles and three interceptions opportunities.

We are looking forward to going to UT and playing a very powerful and storied program. They have a good running back, an experienced DL and front seven. They are a very physical football team. This will be my first time there and we're looking forward to it.

Q: Can you give us the status of Sanford, Willis, Hill and Spurlock?

Coach O: We'll have to see how the week goes. We expect Spurlock to play, we feel OK about Mario and Jamarca, but it's still wait-and-see, and we aren't as confident about Patrick.

Q: How confident are you in Mico with knowing the offense?

Coach O: He did run a zone play in the last game. We feel he can do it, but we're not sure if he can do it 30 times a game yet. With a week's preparation, we hope he just gets better and better.

Q: Are Mico and Turner now your 1-2 punch?

Coach O: It's nice to have. It's good to see new people coming into the program, competing and earning playing time.

Q: What is the status of getting more settled on the OL - picking out five guys and going with them?

Coach O: We've still got work to do there, but we've got to keep on trying to get there. We are moving Tony Bonds at center to see if he can handle it and Darryl Harris at OG this week. Darryl was really good at OG for us in spring, but he's not performing like we'd hoped at center so we are going to put him at guard and see if that combination works better.

Q: What is the psyche of the team right now?

Coach O: I think they are fine. I think we will come out to practice today excited about playing UT. We'll show them the things on the film that hurt us and go about correcting them.

Q: Are you satisfied with the level of preparation during the week and what would you say to those who say the team looks unprepared?

Coach O: We work very hard as a staff with long hours and a lot of preparation. Obviously, there are some things that go on in games that are new that the opposition did not show us and it takes us a while to make adjustments. As an example, we had not seen Wyoming's screen, but were able to adjust it at halftime and get it fixed. I think the team is prepared as well as we can do it right now and the longer we are together the more prepared we will be week-to-week.

Q: How do you assess the progress of the team since Memphis?

Coach O: On defense, our run defense has not done well and there is no excuse for that. We aren't fitting well and we have a couple of new players in there that aren't as good as the guys who are injured. But we have to fix it regardless of the situation. On offense, we are making progress in the run game, but our passing game, including the protection, is not where it needs to be. On special teams, I'm pleased. Our return game is good, our coverage game is good. Will Moseley's dropped snap on punt hurt, but he was having a good night to that point. Kickoffs are good and I think Robert Bass will be able to kick some field goals for us.

Q: What are your thoughts on Tennessee?

Coach O: They are physical and have a great RB in Riggs. They are fairly simple, not complicated at all. They have two QBs they rotate in and out. They have a lot of speed at receiver so it is hard to commit too many people to run defense becuase they will throw verticals behind you. They run a 4-3 defense built on their front seven - they are excellent on the DL and in the LB corps. They have a great blitz package. And we are playing them there, which is a touch venue.

Q: How far away is your defense to being pretty good?

Coach O: I don't think we are that far away. We had a couple of missed calls that were supposed to be left calls that were called to the right and we had five of those due to a new LB making the calls. Patrick never made that mistake. On one of those missed calls, if it been called correctly, we stuff it. It gained 31 yards with the wrong call. Overall, LB Coach Shawn Slocum did the best he could getting Robert Russell ready and we did the best we could there, but we did have busts.

Q: Do you think any about the Phil Fulmer-David Cutcliffe relationship in this upcoming game?

Coach O: No.

Q: What do you need to do from this point on to turn this around?

Coach O: Keep on grinding the best we can. I have seen this system work with my own eyes. I've been with it 24/7 and we are doing the same exact things. We are going to stay positive and work and get it turned around. I'm excited about the freshmen who are playing. We will stick to this system and not change the defense or offense just because it's not operating correctly right now.

Q: Will you watch UT-LSU tonight as a team?

Coach O: No. We call recruits on Monday night, but we'll have it on and I'm sure the team will watch it.

Q: Is there an advantage to UT playing tonight and having a short week to prepare for you?

Coach O: It should.

Q: Coming of a loss and then having to go to UT, is this a week where you find out what your guys are made of?

Coach O: Our practices are built to where we find out what we are made of every day in practice. We are taking this one day at a time. I really believe our guys are going to come out ready to go and it doesn't matter who we play.

Q: Where does the emergence of Mico and Antonio leave Abrams, Pittman and Jacobs?

Coach O: It leaves them with a chance to compete and earn playing time, but Antonio and Mico have moved ahead of them. It appears Mico and Antonio are better suited for our run game scheme.

Q: Are you concerned with teams scheming against Mico and the toss sweep?

Coach O: Sure. I was last week, but we are going to keep adding plays to his package each week.

Q: Are Mico and Antonio OK in pass blocking?

Coach O: They have things to learn, but both are big strong guys who can get it done. We just need to do it more with them to teach them properly.

Q: What is the main area you need to improve on?

Coach O: We need to get better up front. We have to be more physical and dominate on DL and be more physical at LB. We just need to be more physical on both sides of the ball. And we need playmakers on offense - guys who can score when they get their hands on the ball.

Q: How much of a concern is UT's front seven on DL?

Coach O: A major concern. We have a challenge. We have to be able to block them and scheme them.

Q: What are your thoughts on fan impatience right now?

Coach O: I understand it their passion for Ole Miss football and I can understand their impatience. I just want them to know we are bringing this program along and we are going to get there.

Q: How is your patience?

Coach O: About as good as it can be.

Q: What has to happen to get better on third downs?

Coach O: We have to practice it better and execute it better. We can't continue to have busts, as coaches and players. On offense, we have to protect better and get the ball to our receivers. Third down conversions or stops is the key to the game. They change the whole game. We have not been good making third downs or stopping third down conversions and that has to change.

Q: How do you address tackling this week?

Coach O: Work. Especially in team drills. We haven't demanded tackling in team drills the way we should. There will be a lot more attention to detail in team drills. We have addressed tackling individually, but I think there are times we haven't demanded consistent, sure tackling in team drills. That creates bad habits. We went back and looked at some practice film and we, as coaches, need to demand better tackling and the players need to be more accountable in that area.

Q: Can you work on tackling with the injury situation you have?

Coach O: Yes. You don't have to go full contact to work on tackling fundamentals and wrapping up and butting backs up.

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