The following are highlights of Coach Ed Orgeron's Monday press conference prior to the 1 p.m. game with Arkansas this Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Coach O's Opening Statement: We're ready to get back in action this week. I thought we had a very good week of practice during the open week. Based on last week's work, we have decided Ethan Flatt will be our starting quarterback against Arkansas and Matt Hinkle will do our field goal kicking. We expect them both to continue producing in practice.
Arkansas is fifth in the country in rushing offense and have a tremendous tailback in Darren McFadden. They do a great job of picking up in their blocking schemes, they have a tremendous offensive line. Their running game is superb. On defense, they blitz you almost every down and we are expecting that this Saturday. We will have to do a great job of protecting our QB.
Q: Will Hinkle kick the long field goals too?
Coach O: No, Will Moseley will handle those.
Q: What did Ethan and Matt do to make you make those decisions?
Coach O: With Ethan under center, our offense just looked different. Ethan was able to throw the long ball better and he was able to make some checks on the line of scrimmage that we haven't been making. I just thought he operated well within the scheme. Matt was 10-10 Thursday in field goals in live drills. He won the job.
Q: Ethan showed a little mobility in practice. Was that by design?
Coach O: It was more instinctive.
Q: What can you tell us on the injury front? You had a lot of guys miss last week.
Coach O: I think we'll be OK. Most of those guys will be back at practice today.
Q: Do you feel Ethan's insertion into the lineup will rejuventate your offense?
Coach O: We need for it to. We should be able to move the ball. He should be able to help us open up our running game with more effective passing. Hopefully we can create some mismatches and get the ball down the field.
Q: What has made Arkansas so successful running the ball?
Coach O: Their scheme. They are a power team. They have a good, athletic OL. They come off the ball and are very physical. They cut up a defense.
Q: What does your DL have to do to stop them?
Coach O: They have to play good position football and our linebackers have to be able to fill their gaps. If you leave a gap open, McFadden will hit it hard. Also, we have to make plays on the corners. He's made some very good SEC CBs miss him this year.
Q: What did you think of first-time Hog starter at QB Casey Dick?
Coach O: He did a good job of operating their offense. He threw it well at times. He had a couple of deep passes that looked good. He had a lot of get used to in a short time, but seemed to handle it well.
Q: How have things played out for your team thus far?
Coach O: I thought we'd be very good on defense and we have been to this point, but we still have three tough opponents left to finish strong and the way I want to. Our special teams have been disappointing due to our kicking game, but I have been very pleased with the nuts and bolts and organization of our special teams. I'm also pleased we have found a punter. Obviously, we are disappointed in all phases of the offense and we need to get better there in a hurry.
Q: What did Ethan do to earn the position through the year?
Coach O: First of all, Micheal (Spurlock) and Robert (Lane) have not shown the production we anticipated. We needed to go to another guy and as the season has progressed, that guy has been Ethan Flatt. He learned the offense better, he practiced better and really did a nice job at second team when we moved Robert to fullback.
Q: You got a chance to watch a lot of underclassmen during the open week. Did any emerge who can help you the rest of the way?
Coach O: DT Peria Jerry is ready. LB Quentin Taylor is also ready. We are very thin at LB, so Quentin will have to take up the slack. DE Lamark Armour also did well as did DE Viciente DeLoach, who should be able to spell us some.
Q: Talk a little bit more about Jerry.
Coach O: His early injury kept him behind most of the year and he's still lingering with a toe injury. We have seen flashes from him that tell me he can be excellent when healthy and when he catches on to everything we are doing.
Q: Will TB Mico McSwain be back this week and did missing open week reps help or hurt him?
Coach O: He will be back. Missing last week helped him because his shoulder needed rest. He missed three big days last week, though, and that hurt him a little. We got better in the run game - correcting some angles and going more downhill in some of our running game. He missed that and will have to catch up this week.
Q: Alan Abrams had a good week last week. Did he move up some?
Coach O: It depends on what Mico does this week. He is still our number one TB.
Q: What does Arkansas do differently on defense?
Coach O: Blitz, blitz, blitz and blitz some more. We've got a new quarterback, so we expect that, but they do it no matter who the QB is.
Q: Will your defensive approach change since they have a new QB too?
Coach O: You'd like to blitz him more, but you have to stop the running game first. Arkansas will take it to you in their running game if you start spending too much time worrying about their QB. We will go after him in certain situations, but first we have to stop their running game to get them in those blitz-desirable situations. McFadden is real good.
Q: Is there more sense of urgency now since you have to win out to have a winning season?
Coach O: We've been urgent all year. We can't change our approach. We have to beat Arkansas first before we worry about anyone else. If you took all three of those games and lump them together, then you create too much pressure on our team. We just need to do our best against Arkansas.
Q: What was Ethan not picking up that he is picking up now?
Coach O: In the spring, he made a lot of mistakes. He was dropping the ball and making a lot of turnovers in practice and I had seen a lot of that on film of last year's team. He's done great lately. I'm impressed with him now.
Q: Did you sense an offensive spark last week in practice with Ethan at QB?
Coach O: Yes, definitely. Some of the long balls he hit us with last week made me upset as the defensive coordinator, but as the head coach I was elated to see the offense get that spark. It opens things up for us and gives us another dimension.
Monday Press Conference
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