Coach O's opening remarks: I was really proud of our team's attitude throughout last week preparing for the Alabama game. I thought we had a great week of preparation and I liked their attitude throughout the game. Some of the positives that came out of the game were the O-Line, the way they blocked was very good. The play of Mico McSwain was encouraging. Noel Mazzone tried to get him the ball more in different positions and it's working that way. He has more to learn about inside zone running, but he showed some improvement there. The time of possession was also improved.
On defense, Patrick Willis is playing fantastic football. Our tackling was a lot better and our D-Line play, especially against the run, was a lot better. Our fits were better. I was really proud to see Michael Bozeman make the play on fourth and one early in the game. I thought that was a big momentum swing for us. We did not allow any deep balls on our secondary, which we are proud over. On two sudden changes, we only allowed three points. That's exciting.
On special teams, our kickoff team continues to be fantastic and our punt team is doing a very good job.
As a staff, we looked at the mistakes we made. Obviously, the two delays were in that. We know we have to get our personnel in quicker and our QB has to have more awareness of the play clock.
We are looking forward to having another great week of preparation. We have to move on from Alabama and focus on nothing but Kentucky. We're playing at home and we have to use this opportunity to take another step in building our program.
Q: After that emotional loss, how do you keep your players up?
Coach O: The attitude of this team is to prepare each week to win whether you win or lose the Saturday before. We have faced adversity already this season and responded. I think our players know how to respond. They know we have to turn our full attention on Kentucky.
Q: What makes Patrick Willis so special?
Coach O: He is very instinctive and knows where the ball is going before it's snapped. He's quick and strong. He has a lot of courage. He's exactly what we want in a MLB. He studies and works hard.
Q: Expand on the delay trboules.
Coach O: The personnel came in late, but also Michael should have called time out. I tried to call it from the sidelines, but the ref said he couldn't hear me. Those are things we have to practice and get right, with our personnel groupings and with Mike.
Q: Is there an advantage for Kentucky having two coaches (Rick Petri, Kurt Roper) on the staff here last year and their knowledge of the personnel on your team?
Coach O: You can use that as an advantage sometimes, but when it comes to game time, someof that goes out the door. Sometimes you can over-analyze things. I've been on both sides of that fence and it tends not to matter as much as people think.
Q: You mentioned defensive fits and their improvement. Please expand.
Coach O: We fit very well against Alabama. We missed one fit and they scored on it. I was very pleased beyond that one mistake. It's a challenge playing several fronts like we are to learn it all. As we gain experience, we are getting better and more comfortable with the defensive package. It showed Saturday.
Q: Is P-Willie surprsing you any?
Coach O: I knew in spring he could be special. He's having a great year. Surprising? No, but 15 tackles a game is super. He's playing like an All-American. He's unusually tough, unusually committed and 110% into football and Ole Miss defense. He's a great young man to have.
Q: Talk about Kentucky.
Coach O: On offense, they spread you out. They run draws, a little option and some screens that have been successful for them. Mike Archer is a tremendous defensive coordinator. They are at the right places at the right times on defense. They are young, but they have battled. They have had some unfortunate miscues like everyone else, but I expect it to be a battle.
Q: Elaborate on the OL improvement.
Coach O: I felt we prevented much penetration in the backfield. There were not many mental errors up front - no penalties, which I was very proud of. We did a nice job of mixing up against a supposedly great Alabama DL. OL Coach George DeLeone worked his tail off all week and gave them an opportunity to have success. Thomas Eckers did a fantastic job relieving Andrew Wicker and battled every play. That helped a lot.
Q: WIll Eckers be back in there this week?
Coach O: I think so. I don't know what will happen with Andrew, but I think Thomas will be the starting LG.
Q: What about Jason Cook's broken arm?
Coach O: I don't know how long he will be out. I don't have that report yet.
Q: What about the PK situation?
Coach O: We will practice them very hard. (laughs) We have identified the problems on film and they were both mechanical. Basic fundamentals. We will continue to go with Robert Bass and Will Moseley.
Q: With Jason out, is Brandon Jacobs, the forgotten man, ready to rejoin the team full speed?
Coach O: I don't think he will practice today. We'll just have to see. We could use him. I do think, however, that Jamal Pittman is doing a good job there. I like him there. He's an athletic back there. He and I were disappointed with his missed pass in the flat, but besides that he played very well when Jason went out.
Q: Talk about Tre' Stallings.
Coach O: He's a leader and very solid. He has improved his mental aspects of the game. He jumped offsides a couple of weeks in a row, but he took that to heart and got it fixed. We talked today and he expressed how much he liked the attitude of our team - that the whole team thought we were going to win the whole game. The mental aspect of Tre's game is very good. He's got great character, he's solid in the weight room and he works hard. He cares. That means a lot to us and is why he is the team captain.
Q: Talk about Michael Bozeman.
Coach O: He's fantastic as a leader. He's the middle of our defense and is a great young man. I really liked the fourth-and-one stop he made. We took a shot there because we knew what they were going to run there and he executed it. We put a little defense in that would stop it if Michael did what he was supposed to do, and he did. That's huge. It set the toughness and tempo of the game. We told our team early last week that this would be a big man's game, tough. For the most part, we did very well up front.
Q: What is the major progress you have seen?
Coach O: Understanding the systems and having more confidence in them. At first, they were saying 'where do I line up?' Now, they are getting it and taking it to another step. It's confidence of knowing the defense and knowing where you are. Now, we are starting to get to the point where we understand the other team's offense and defense. The only difference is that I know the defensive system thorouoghly and our offensive staff, in this system for the first time, is having to grow with it. I understand that. I was really pleased with most of the offense's performance throughout the game.
Q: You talked last week about getting off to a better start. You got that accomplished. How?
Coach O: I think it started last Monday when we addressed the team. We made sure we were paying better attention to detials. We went back as a staff and identified what we were doing wrong early in games and we attempted to fix it. I think it showed.
Q: Talk about the kickoff and punt teams.
Coach O: They are doing great. Will Moseley is an excellent kickoff man. Rob Park is getting better by the day and is doing an excellent job. Along with that, Shawn Slocum does a great job with punt protection, which is also very important.
Monday Press Conference
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