Monday Press Conference

Having lived and coached through several USC-UCLA crosstown rivalry situations, and having been on the winning and losing sides, Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron "gets it" when it comes to the Rebel-Bulldog rivalry. Read about it inside.

The following is Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron's Monday press conference prior to the 1:30 p.m. matchup Saturday in Starkville against Mississippi State in the annual Egg Bowl.

Coach Orgeron's Opening Statements: We had an excellent practice this morning and have already started on our preparations for Mississippi State. Our guys are cranked up about the game. We are going to practice in the morning this week and give them some afternoon and night time off. We will practice earlier in the morning Thanksgiving Day and resume practice late Friday afternoon so they can have some time with their families.

Watching film from the LSU game, field position really hurt us. I also saw that we got out-physicaled on both side of the line of scrimmage at times. Special teams hurt us - we will make adjustments in personnel on kickoff return. Yards rushing, obviously LSU ran the ball on us more than I thought they would. We had some busts in coverage that allowed some scores on our defense, which haven't been happening like that. We also had a couple of missed interception opportunities that would have helped had we made the plays.

Mississippi State has struggled, but they have some talent. Jerrious Norwood is an excellent back and they have one of the leading QB sackers in the SEC. We will have to prepare to play a good game.

On our injury list, Mario Hill is out. Antonio Turner and Larry Kendrick are questionable. Robert Lane is a little beat up, but I think he should be fine. Jamal Pittman may play a little tailback.

Q: Any hopes for Mico McSwain's return?

Coach O: We'll see. We'll keep on working with him, but it doesn't look good right now.

Q: Ever been to Starkville?

Coach O: No, but I'm looking forward to it because I understand how big a game this is for us and for Ole Miss fans.

Q: What are some of your matchup thoughts concerning MSU?

Coach O: We have to play great defense. We have to stop their running game, cause turnovers and pressure their QB. They have been sacked a lot and we have to continue that trend. We have to eliminate the mistakes we have made in the secondary in our last couple of games. We also have to find a way to move the ball on offense - move them around and spread them out a little bit. We also have to play better on special teams.

Q: What are your scenarios for tailback if Mico and Kendrick are out?

Coach O: We'll probably use Robert Lane and Jamal Pittman until we can get back Antonio Turner and Larry Kendrick, if we get them back. We'll make a decision toward the end of the week.

Q: What have you seen from the Bulldogs' freshman QB?

Coach O: We aren't finished gameplanning yet, but from what we've seen they keep a lot of guys in to protect. He's a shorter QB, so maybe we can bat some balls down on them at the line. That's really about it at this point.

Q: How do you contain or stop Norwood?

Coach O: We have to put eight men in the box and gang-tackle him. They have a really nice draw play that is unique and do a couple of things we haven't seen before this year that we will have to practice and perfect and recognize when they run them. I don't know if one guy can get him down, so we need several guys around the ball hitting him.

Q: What was going on with your OL against LSU's DL?

Coach O: They are very good and were getting off on the football and our OL was getting knocked back. They stepped on Ethan's foot and tripped him. Exactly what happened. Three or four times. LSU has very, very powerful players in the middle of their DL and we couldn't do anything with them, obviously.

Q: Can you take advantage of MSU's OL?

Coach O: We have an experienced front and I expect them to play well every week. I expect them to have a good game Saturday.

Q: How far away are you from being able to compete on the OL like you need to and want to?

Coach O: We're a couple of players away. We have to get bigger, stronger kids and look at what we are doing on the OL - is it conducive to the guys we have available? We have an overall evaluation process to go through at the end of the season and that's when we will make some decisions.

Q: Can you resolve those issues in one recruiting season?

Coach O: It depends on who we get and how good they are. Obviously, we need some mature young men to come in here and play quickly and compete against the DLs you see in the SEC. If we can get two or three who are capable, yes, we can do it in one recruiting season.

Q: What is riding on this game?

Coach O: A lot of pride. You go to the store and you see Bulldog stuff and Ole Miss stuff everywhere. Your neighbors, so to speak, are MSU fans. You have to live with them for a year. You want to be able to win this game - period.

Q: What about the affects on recruiting?

Coach O: We are in battles with everyone in the South in recruiting, MSU included. It helps in recruiting to win and to play well. But this is about beating Mississippi State. What comes with it is a bonus.

Q: What adjustments are you going to make on your kickoff return?

Coach O: Change personnel and maybe change schemes. We look at that in depth yesterday and we had a lot of mistakes. We had double-teams where one guy ran through them. We have to get more physical players out there who handle their assignments better.

Q: Who will be the starting QB?

Coach O: Ethan Flatt. Spurlock will be the second team QB.

Q: Is the lack of running game the last couple of weeks attributed partly to Mico being out?

Coach O: Partly, yes. Mico made a lot of plays on his own. He has a unique ability - he's physical, fast and can change directions, which allows him to make something out of nothing. Really, we didn't open up many holes for Mico all year. He was just able to make something happen on his own. The other guys don't have his speed or strength to get it done without some help.

Q: Did moving Chris Rippon upstairs help you?

Coach O: We had better communication, yes. I think it will work well in the future with Chris in the press box.

Q: Is this game a mental or physical thing at this point?

Coach O: We are going to scale back this week because we have some nicks and bruises and need some rest. We will still practice hard, but will scale back some. Hopefully, a well-rested team will be helped physically and mentally.

Q: Any comments on the report that OC Noel Mazzone will be let go?

Coach O: There will be no comments on the staff. Nothing has changed on my staff - Noel will be on the sidelines Saturday calling plays. We won't allow those reports to be a distraction to the team.

Q: Has anyone been contacted for a position on your staff? We're hearing John Fourcade.

Coach O: There has been no discussion with anyone about joining this staff.

Q: When do you address those issues?

Coach O: Recruiting will be first. We will go out Sunday recruiting. Later, I will evaluate film and evaluate the staff. We can be in prospects homes starting Sunday and that's where we will be.

Q: Was Spurlock at TB this morning?

Coach O: No. He won't play tailback.

Q: Do you know Sylvester Croom?

Coach O: No.

Q: What does Lane bring to TB?

Coach O: Toughness. He can lower his pads and get YAC yards.

Q: Talk about this rivalry.

Coach O: At USC, we played UCLA. Your neighbor might be a Bruin. This is very similar. You have to see them every day and it's for bragging rights all year. I've lived it and seen it from both sides. UCLA beat us eight years in a row when I first got to USC. That was enough. We have to win the Egg and keep it, period.

Q: What will a win mean?

Coach O: Right now, everything. We want to win for our players and we want to win to go into recruiting feeling good about what we are doing.

OM Spirit Top Stories