Monday Press Conference

Ed Orgeron announced in his weekly press conference this morning that junior QB Ethan Flatt, who played the fourth quarter against Auburn last Saturday, will take reps in practice this week with the first team offense, but he added 'Ethan will have to win the job in practice.' Read about it inside.

The following are highlights from Coach Ed Orgeron's Monday press conference. The Rebels have a needed open week this week.

Coach Orgeron's Opening Statement: We're looking forward to this open week to work on getting back to the fundamentals with our team. We will work out some young guys and fix some things on both sides of the ball and in special teams. We did not play very well against Auburn - obviously. We need more production out of the offense and will strive to get that fixed in practice this week. The one positive was QB Ethan Flatt who came in and operated the offense very well and made some excellent decisions within the scheme of the offense. He has a chance to be our quarterback, but he will have to earn it this week in the competition phase of practice this week.

Defensively, we played well in spots, but we gave up some trick plays and didn't do a good job handling some of the field position chances we had. We did not play very well in special teams in terms of coverage, allowing them field position opportunities.

Q: What is your schedule this week?

Coach O: We will practice Monday-Thursday and take the weekend off, resuming next Monday. We will have a normal light practice today, but will gear it up Tuesday-Thursday.

Q: Is there a plan in place for working three quarterbacks in practice via rep distribution?

Coach O: I didn't say we had three quarterbacks in the mix. Right now, Ethan will practice with the first team and Robert and Micheal will get second team reps and Robert will continue working at fullback and tight end too.

Q: What was Spurlock not doing?

Coach O: Ethan threw the ball well and made good decisions. Michael did not make good decisions. We knew we had to throw in the fourth quarter so we put Ethan in there and he operated well. Ethan will practice with the first team offense this week, but that doesn't mean he's got the job without doing good things in practice this week.

Q: Early in the year, Flatt seemed a distant third in the QB race. What changed that?

Coach O: In the spring, we evaluated everyone and gave everyone a fair shot. The guys who stood out to us were Robert and Mike. Ethan did not have a good spring. We went into fall camp believing we had to decide between Mike and Robert so we distributed our reps accordingly. There are only so many reps to go around. We made that decision back in the spring. As the season has progressed, Ethan has learned the offense and is ready to operate it. Another thing that gives us more confidence now is that the protection of the offensive line has improved. Early on, we needed a mobile quarterback because our protection was not good. Now we have more confidence in that area, which opens the door for Ethan more.

Q: What about Lane now?

Coach O: Robert will continue to play FB and TE and we'll see where that leads us.

Q: Do you feel you can stretch the field more with Ethan and, if so, will that help your running game?

Coach O: It should open it up, especially if we can get the right checks at the right times with good decision making. He also did a good job of throwing under pressure, making some plays we haven't seen there in a few games.

Q: What other things are you evaluating?

Coach O: We will do a self-scout today with all cut-ups of film. We will evaluate every player on the team this week and see how they can help us. Obviously, we are disappointed in the offense. We are nowhere near where we need to be in this scheme. We have to look at why we are doing things, what we are doing, where are the mistakes, is it what we are telling them, is it what we are running. . . We have to go through it from A-Z. Defensively, I'm very pleased with what we are doing. We are not near where I want to be, but I think we are far along enough in the defensive philosophy that we can win with defense. You have to have a great defense to win championships and we are getting there.

Q: Evaluate the defensive performance against Auburn.

Coach O: We missed some opportunities on some big plays. The reverse and the reverse pass were mistakes we should have handled. We were outmatched on the corners sometimes with their big receivers. We had a lot of guys in the box and they made some good plays on us with their big receivers. Physically, we played very well along the line of scrimmage. Our LBs are playing very well. We have a good scheme our guys are into. They are competing. I'm very pleased with our defense.

Q: On the early third down on Auburn's goalline, I counted 12 players on the Tiger defense. What do you do about that? Are you helpless there?

Coach O: There were 12 men on the field, but we didn't notice it. If we did, we would have been in the ref's ear. We can turn it in, but that's water under the bridge. Let me say this, though. One of our rules is no whining and no complaining. That comes from me and that's the way it will be. We need to make plays regardless of the situation and do the things within our control.

Q: Do you tweal the offensive system to jump start it?

Coach O: No, the system is fine.

Q: Are you getting more comfortable in having your best players on the field?

Coach O: We're getting there. You can see each week we are trying different things and evaluating every day. We have moved guys around and will continue to evaluate young guys this week. Everybody is still in the competition. If you practice well that week, we will play you.

Q: What about Brandon Jacobs and Chris Bowers?

Coach O: Brandon has to catch the ball on fourth down, you know. I think Bowers is still out. . . We will evaluate Brandon's performance and go from there. He gives us a bigger back down there. Is that the right decision? We are still evaluating that and will continue to.

Q: Will you make any adjustments in the offense to make up for deficiencies in talent?

Coach O: We always make adjustments. Noel (Mazzone) has that option and he knows that. We don't run exactly the USC offense I brought in - we have made adjustments. But I'm not going to abort the system - no way. The tweaks and adjustments will be minimal, but we have made some.

Q: Talk about your front four on defense.

Coach O: I have to credit DL Coach Ryan Nielsen. We have four seniors up front. It means a lot to them. They have a chance to play at the next level. They are learning a great system - one of the best in America - and they are doing a good job within it. McKinley Boykin, Bozeman, Mitchell and Corvelli Haynes are doing very well.

Q: What is your approach to win out and get a winning season?

Coach O: The approach will be to remain positive and excited. To be able to play Arkansas, LSU and Mississippi State is why you coach and play in the SEC for. We have to approach this week in terms of fixing some things that aren't clicking. Then we will get after preparations for Arkansas.

Q: What's the one thing you've got to do this week?

Coach O: Fundamentals on both sides of the ball. We've got to get things right. We've also got to keep developing mental toughness.

Q: Talk about Michael Bozeman.

Coach O: He's making plays and handling the middle. He's playing his blocks well and is drawing some double teams now. His pass rush awareness is so much better. He's a team captain and doing a great job there too.

Q: Talk more about Ethan.

Coach O: I think the snaps he got last year has benefitted him. He looked very comfortable out there last Saturday. He made very few mistakes and hung in the pocket well.

Q: How did he handle things emotionally in terms of not playing?

Coach O: I think he handled it very well. He's always studying and working. He's very studious - very smart. He's just working to get an opportunity to play.

Q: How id Peria Jerry doing?

Coach O: He played excellent along the goalline Saturday and is coming along. We need to get him in the game a little more each week. He's coming along.

Q: What is the status of WR Milton Collins and Reterio Brown?

Coach O: They will both rejoin the team and practice today. They are on the team and will go back to work.

Q: What's wrong with the offense, in your mind?

Coach O: We don't have one. Why? Sometimes it takes a little longer to get going offensively. I have experience in the defense we are running and could teach it quicker. We knew it would take the offensive guys longer to get it going, but we should be further along than we are. We will fix that this week.

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