O's spring preview; depth chart

Spring training begins this Saturday, March 4th. This will be Coach Ed Orgeron's second "rodeo" as the Rebel lead man. In a press conference today, he expressed his expectations and goals for the spring session, which culminates with the April 8th Grove Bowl. Read about it inside.

The following is a transcript of Coach Ed Orgeron's pre-spring press conference held at the IPF this morning.

Coach O's Opening Statement: Obviously we are very excited to start spring football Saturday. The thing I am most excited about is to capitalize on the work ethic we developed last year and to continue to improve it. The competition in practice is vital to your team's progress. We had a great offseason - a lot of kids made tremendous strides in the weight room in the offseason. I would like to give Coach Aaron Ausmus and his staff a lot of credit - they have worked extremely hard and the enthusiasm there has been fantastic. Our guys have gotten a lot stronger, especially along the lines.

Offensively, I am excited to bring in the new scheme of OC Dan Werner. I think it fits the personnel we have. I am looking forward to seeing his offense in action. I am also pleased to have OL Coach Art Kehoe on board. He brings a new level of excitement and intensity to our OL. We have to do a lot of work on the OL and have to get better there to succeed in the SEC. It's been fun to watch Hugh Freeze work with our tight ends. I have already seen improvement there. He will do a very good job in the coaching phase of tight ends.

We have to develop a tough offensive line. There will be movements made throughout the spring. Again our depth chart will be etched in sand, but I think moving Michael Oher to tackle, Darryl Harris to guard will help us out. We are going to put Thomas Eckers and Corey Actis at center to start off with. Reid Neely and David Traxler will be in a fight for the top spots at the tackle positions too.

At tight end, which Dan uses a lot in his offense, I have been really impressed with the attitude Robert Lane has come back with. I think Robert will fit in well there. We have to get him the ball and let him do what he does best - compete. Lawrence Lilly has an oustanding - I mean really outstanding - offseason. He's trimmed down, he has a great attitude and he looks ready to go. Robert Hough has also had a good spring. I'm excited to see the TE becoming a bigger part of our offense.

At tailback, we are all excited to see Mico McSwain coming back. He's bigger and stronger and knows more what to do this year. But we all know we are all glad to have BenJarvus Green-Ellis eligible now after sitting out a year due to transfer rules. It's his time and we expect him to be a great back. Hiram White will give us some depth there in spring and Jason Cook and Seth Michaelson will be our fullbacks.

At wide receiver, it will be a challenge for us in the spring. We have a lot of inexperience there. But a guy who has stood out in the spring to this point is Marshay Green. He will continue to return punts and kickoffs, but we expect him to help us at wide receiver. He's very quick. We also expect Burnell Wallace to come along as well as J.D. Lawhorn and Carlos Suggs and the rest of the gang.

At QB, we all know Brent Schaeffer will be the guy next year. Right now, we have to develop a second-teamer. Bruce Hall will start as the first-team guy in spring followed by Billy Tapp, Seth Adams and Conner Wise.

On defense, I feel real good about my second year as defensive coordinator. We had a chance in the offseason to analyze what we did last year and what we need to do to get better. We expect to be better this year. MLB Patrick Willis will not practice this spring, but he will spend a lot of time in the film room and in helping us with the younger kids. SS Jamarca Sanford will also miss spring due to a minor surgery he had. DE Lamark Armour will also be out.

We have to develop a front four. Peria Jerry has had a great offseason. We will try him at DE and see what he can do there. He's quick and strong and we need to be bigger at DE to stop the run in the SEC. Hayward Howard is a young man we feel really good about. Tremendously quick and strong - he'll have a good season. A guy who has come back with a new attitude and has done a great job is Brandon Jenkins. We look for him to continue along those lines of improvement. Jeremy Garrett and Chris Bowers, who has gained some weight in the offseason, are also showing out in the offseason.

At linebacker, I'm really excited to have Coach David Saunders on this staff. He and I will work well together. I can have more of a hands-on approach with the LBs. Coach Suanders will be great there for us, and we need that because we can get a lot better there this year. We need a new Will LB to replace Kelvin Robinson. The two top candidates are Quentin Taylor and Antonio Turner, who moved over from TB in the offseason and has looked excellent. At Mike, we need to develop a guy who can spell Patrick next year. The candidates are Robert Russell and Rogers Loche. At Sam, last year Garry Pack struggled int he spring, but this year we expect him to have a great spring, along with LeRon King, who rejoined our team this semester. We also have an excellent group of newcomers coming in this summer who will help us on the DL and at LB. Our returning guys better take advantage of the reps they get in spring or they may not get as many in August with the guys we have coming in.

In the secondary, we need to develop some depth there. We have very good frontliners, but need some backups to emerge. B. Brown will work at SS in the spring and has had an excellent offseason. We are also excited about Trumaine McBride, Dustin Mouzon, Nate Banks and Charles Clark in the secondary. We feel very strong there.

In the kicking game, we have Will Moseley, Matt Hinkle, Justin Sparks and Robert Bass. We have to get better there, obviously. Rob Park returns for his second year as the punter and will do well. We have to get better in special teams as a whole this spring.

Q: Are Neely and TE Jason Hawkins available for spring?

Coach O: Yes. Hawkins has been fighting an illness but will be ready for spring practice.

Q: Last year you emphasized the USC offense. Is that gone now?

Coach O: That is gone. I felt I needed an OC who I could be confident in to run his own scheme and Dan is that guy. I was at Miami for five years and believe that scheme is fantastic. Dan has complete control of the offense.

Q: How much do you expect to get done on offense in spring?

Coach O: We can install a lot. We can do everything in terms of sets, personnel, the way we are going to operate in the offense. I think we can put in 95% of it in spring.

Q: What do you have to do differently this year versus what you did last year to be successful?

Coach O: We need to be able to establish a consistent offense that can move the ball and keep the defense off the field. We have to be able to run the ball when we want to. We also need better decision-making in the QB slot and better OL play. We have to develop a PK who is consistent. On defense, we have to be more consistent stopping the run and be better on third down.

Q: What will your role be in the offense?

Coach O: I hope I'm saying "good job." I like to be involved in personnel decisions, but he's calling the plays and determining the gameplans. The only thing I will do is make game-day decisions like going for it on fourth down.

Q: Bruce Hall is athletic, like Brent. Is that an advantage in installing the offense for fall?

Coach O: I'm happy to have him. He is similar to Brent, but the main thing we'll be trying to do is develop a reliable backup.

Q: What will Willis' role be in spring?

Coach O: Last year was Patrick's first in this defense. He realizes there is a lot he can improve, such as recognizing things before the ball is snapped. I want him to coach Robert Russell and get better in his own recognition. That will keep him involved. He can develop a lot mentally in spring by staying involved.

Q: Are you going to adjust your defensive system much?

Coach O: No. We are just going to run it better in the second year. We will have a lot of film of our opponents this year and will know their strengths and weaknesses better than last year. We will take that knowledge and just get better and better.

Q: What was the point of emphasis in the offseason?

Coach O: Strength. We have to get more physical up front on both sides of the ball. I talked with Aaron Ausmus about that in the offseason and that's been our goal. I think we have done that and have also worked on improving what we do in terms of techniques.

Q: What type of back is Green-Ellis?

Coach O: He's physical. We've been looking for a guy who can carry the ball 25-30 times a game and can put the game on his shoulders. A guy who can pound it up in there or make a play outside as well. We want an all-purpose guy and we think he is that guy.

Q: Talk more about Hayward Howard.

Coach O: He's 6-4, 300 and can really move. He's what we are looking for. We think he can play tackle or end. We'll start him at tackle. We think he's an impact player. The thing I noticed my first year in the league was that we played great DLs every week. We have got to get better in that area to succeed in the SEC.

Q: Is the offense starting over from scratch or is there some retention from last year?

Coach O: We are starting over from scratch, but that's a good thing.

Q: Is there anything Brent Schaeffer can do not being here in terms of preparation for his arrival in summer?

Coach O: He's got a playbook and is talking extensively with Coach Werner. He's learning not even being here.

Q: Any possiblity of Robert Hough going to defense since you have more depth at TE?

Coach O: We thought of that, but Robert can help us at tight end. Robert can play H-Back and can move around. So can Hough. Lilly and Hawkins can be our line of scrimmage guys. Also, we recruited well on the DL so we didn't feel we needed to move anyone there because we expect immediate help on the DL from the newcomers in summer.

Pre-Spring Depth Chart (By Sports Information)

Offense

SE - Carlos Suggs, Keith Houston

LT - Michael Oher, Marcus Cohen

LG - Darryl Harris, Andrew Wicker

C - James McCoy, Corey Actis

RG - Thomas Eckers, Maurice Miller

RT - David Traxler, Reid Neely

TE - Robert Lane, Lawrence Lilly, Robert Hough

FL - Burnell Wallace, Marshay Green

QB - Bruce Hall, Billy Tapp, Seth Adams

RB - Mico McSwain, BenJarvus Green-Ellis

FB - Jason Cook, Seth Michaelson

Defense

E - Peria Jerry, Viciente DeLoach

DT - Brandon Jenkins, Hayward Howard

N - Jeremy Garrett, Trey Poole

E - Chris Bowers, Reterio Brown

WLB - Quentin Taylor, Antonio Turner

MLB - Patrick Willis (WNP), Robert Russell, Rogers Loche

SLB - Garry Pack, LeRon King

LCB - Nate Banks, Terrell Jackson

SS - Jamarca Sanford (WNP), B. Brown, Gary Albury

FS - Charles Clark, Gary Riggs

RCB - Trumaine McBride, Dustin Mouzon

Specialists

PK - Will Moseley, Matt Hinkle, Justin Sparks

KO - Moseley, Hinkle, Sparks

P - Rob Park, Moseley

Hold - Park

Deep Snapper - Seth Michaelson, Brent Smith

KOR - Marshay Green, Green-Ellis, McSwain

PR - B. Brown, McSwain


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