Coach O postgame

The following is Ole Miss head coach Ed Orgeron's postgame press conference after the Rebels lost their season finale 35-14 against the hosting Mississippi State Bulldogs. Orgeron discusses the game itself, recruiting needs heading into the offseason, and the coaching staff's schedule over the next few weeks.

Coach O's opening comments: This is obviously a disappointing loss for our football team. We got outplayed physically and whipped at the line of scrimmage. The turnovers and field position cost us in the first half. We couldn't stop anyone. We could not tackle (Jerious) Norwood. Give him credit because he did a good job at running the football."

Q: Talk about the long drive in the third quarter that put them up 28-14 and consumed a lot of the clock.

Coach O: We had a chance to stop them on third down and didn't do it. They ran it down our throats and it hurt.

Q: Turnovers seemed to really hurt you.

Coach O: They always have. We've got to take care of the ball. We had three turnovers that resulted in points for them, but it wasn't only that. This was a total team effort. They beat us.

Q: How surprised were you, after you drove down the field to tie it at 14-14 and had all the momentum, that State came back and scored on its next possession?

Coach O: In a rivalry game, I knew it was going to be a fight. I expected us to come back, but we couldn't overcome missed tackles, missed assignments, and turnovers. We just couldn't do it.

Q: They ran the ball on that long drive 12 times in a row. It wasn't anything special, they just lined up and ran it.

Coach O: It wasn't anything special. We had guys in position to make plays. Once Kelvin Robinson went out, we had some younger guys come in, and maybe they weren't filling their gaps. I'll have to see.

Q: Having seen Norwood now this year, where would you rank him as far as other backs in the SEC?

Coach O: He's a very good back. He's one of the top football players we've seen all year.

Q: How would you categorize your effort and intensity today?

Coach O: I think we were ready to go, but I'm disappointed in some of the spurts in the game. I think they wore us down a little bit.

Q: Is that pretty much how the season went? You did it at some points and not at others?

Coach O: We were very inconsistent. We have to get better on the line of scrimmage and get a lot better at other things in order for us to win here.

Q: How would you evaluate your first season?

Coach O: It's been very disappointing. We went in with no idea of what type of talent we had. We will have to evaluate everything we have been doing and make some adjustments.

Q: How much did it hurt not having McSwain and Hill today?

Coach O: It always hurts when you don't have two of your best players on the field. But there weren't any excuses for today.

Q: When will staff evaluations take place?

Coach O: Staff evaluations will take place in the near future. First, we have to do some recruiting. I will be on the road recruiting tomorrow."

Q: Is there any one area that you think you have to get better at more than any other?

Coach O: Everywhere. We need to get the type of players that fit our system at every position.

Q: Did your guys have a hard time adjusting here with the system?

Coach O: No. I don't think so.

Q: Considering the intensity of this rivalry, were you almost a little surprised when they took a knee at the end?

Coach O: That wasn't my decision. I didn't know what was going to happen.

Q: Now that you've been in a game here, do you think you understand this rivalry a little better?

Coach O: I definitely understand it.

Q: Did you switch to Spurlock because you guys were having trouble with the pass rush?

Coach O: Yeah. We went to Spurlock because we had some turnovers and were getting hit in the backfield. We needed somebody with mobility back there.

Q: With this game and the Tulane story that's ongoing, is this a time that you guys are having to work through with bad PR/image stuff?

Coach O: Not really. Not that I'm aware.

Q: Are you kind of glad the season's over with?

Coach O: No. I'm never glad the season's over with. I would play football everyday if I had a choice. We have some work to do. For me, the season's never over. It's recruiting season now.

Q: Is this something where you learn something new everyday?

Coach O: This is my first year, and everyday is a learning experience.

Q: Will you do anything in the offseason to tweak philosophy or anything like that?

Coach O: We'll look at that. We'll have a lot of time. We have three weeks of recruiting and then there's a dead period. So we'll use these next three weeks to recruit and then evaluate what we're doing (during the dead period).

Q: Does that include the defense as well?

Coach O: Sure. We're always tweaking. Today they hurt us with personnel grouping. They had one personnel grouping that gave us problems, and we have to figure out why.

Q: Does it bother you that during the last two-and-a-half games the defense got worse?

Coach O: We have to look at why it happened.

Q: Is recruiting more important this year than last year?

Coach O: We've had a year to build relationships and stuff like that. That's going to happen every year. Hopefully, as those relationships build, we'll have more success.

Q: Do you feel a sense of urgency now to get immediate help with JUCOs?

Coach O: As long as they're ready to play. I just don't want to get a guy who's not ready to play.

Q: What positions need help right now?

Coach O: We're losing four defensive linemen. We're very thin at linebacker. We had a strong safety playing linebacker. We've got to get help on the defensive front seven and the offensive line. Wide receiver. Quarterback.

Do you think Patrick's coming back?

Coach O: I hope so.

Q: So you might be looking at six or seven or eight JUCOs if you can get the right guys?

Coach O: We don't know that number yet, but maybe.

Q: Are you more inclined to recruit players for the system or good athletes?

Coach O: Both. We will never pass up on a good athlete. But we have to fix the needs at some positions and figure out if they can come in and play right away.

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