Coach O's opening statement: We asked the kids to give us five hard days this week and they did - that was obvious. They worked hard all week.
I was kind of surprised the defense dominated today after the offense had such a great day running the ball on Friday, but they did. The defensive line - led by Peria Jerry and Hayward Howard - produced more today. I think those guys are coming along and developing into pretty good players. Our linebackers are learning what to do and the defensive backs were pretty solid. They'll be fine.
On offense, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Mico McSwain are really good football players, but we've got to surround them with some more talent. Obviously we need Brent Schaeffer in here and we need more receivers to step up and make plays. The tight ends made a couple of nice plays today, but we are still not to the point I want them to be. I want them to be used more. The offensive line still has work to do, but they are coming.
Q: Talk more about Howard. Is he what you were hoping for?
Coach O: Physically, yes, and maybe a little more. But he's still not lining up right and doesn't know much about the defense yet.
Q: What stood out offensively this week?
Coach O: Just the direction they are taking. I like it. We are more of a power game with more two-back stuff. I have complete confidence in Coach Dan Werner to get it done on that side of the ball. I like their style and what they have shown thus far. I feel very comfortable with them directing things.
Q: Did the offense shining yesterday motivate the defense today?
Coach O: I think the defensive coordinator (him) got on the defensive players a little bit this morning and challenged them. But really this is typical of spring and what we want in terms of one day the offense doing well and the next the defense doing well. There's good competition and pride out there and that's certainly good to see.
Q: How is the OL doing in the protection package?
Coach O: There was a lot of pressure today, but I think a lot of it has to do with timing and getting the package down. I feel good about the start they have had and the direction they are going, but we still have a long, long way to go in that area.
Q: Discuss Marshay Green a little.
Coach O: When we get him the ball in open spaces, he's awfully quick and can make plays and make people miss. I was disappointed he dropped a little bubble screen today, but he's a threat with the ball in his hands.
Q: What about your new DL?
Coach O: We are not where we want to be there. We have a lot of work to do. Our new people have a ton to learn. It's not about the talent - it's about the steps and what to do and technique. Our DL played with confidence last year because they were experienced. We have to get that feeling back by September - confident and knowing what to do and attacking.
Q: What has improved the most on offense in the first five days?
Coach O: The running game. No doubt. They are aggressive, they attack, their pad level is better. The fullback is blocking well and the tailbacks are running well.
Q: How is Michael Oher doing at left tackle?
Coach O: He's inconsistent right now, but he could become a dominant player at LT once he learns what Art wants him to do and gets the hang of it. He's going to be a great player at LT in time.
Q: How's Bruce Hall doing at QB?
Coach O: He's doing OK, but he may not end up at QB. We'll see. If he wins second-team QB, that's fine. If not, he's athlete enough to play elsewhere and we like that in him and was one of the reasons we signed him.
Q: How is Seth Adams doing at QB?
Coach O: Right now, he's the most confident QB we have because he's caught on the offense the best. He can't make all the throws we want yet, but he's running the offense fine.
Q: What's in store for the practices after the spring break?
Coach O: We are taking our time on offense. We've put in 20-30 percent of the offense at this point. We will pick up the pace in installation after the break. On defense, we will just keep plugging forrward. Right now, we are right on target. As a staff, we will take a little time off, but we will look at the cutups and plan for when the players return. We need to fix some problems and keep moving forward. We will also do a lot of personnel evaluations during the break to see if we need to make any position changes.
Q: How did you like today?
Coach O: Loved it. Great day for the first day in pads. The offense was able to move the ball a little at times, the defense stepped up and did a better job. I was really impressed with Peria Jerry and a couple of other players. He reminds me of some of the dominant players I have coached in the past and is coming on strong. He played no DE last year, so his transition there is going very well for a newcomer. We know he can play DT or DE, depending on how everyone else progresses and how some of the newcomers look. I wish he could play all four DL positions at once for us (laughs). We put him at DE because we need to be bigger there. He's a little heavier than the ideal we want our DE - 275, but he is very quick. I'm not completely sold he will stay at DE, but I know he can do it and that's great for us in terms of our versatility. He could be a dominant DT or he may even rotate at DE and DT, but he will be in the lineup.
Q: What about LeRon King at DE today?
Coach O: Reterio Brown was hurt today so we moved LeRon to DE. He had a couple of sacks from that position. He's just so quick. He can be a nickel type of pass rusher for us there or he could help at LB with his speed.
Q: What are your thoughts on the kicking game?
Coach O: It's not where it needs to be. Hopefully we can develop a consistent PK this spring. If not, we have a signee coming in this summer. We have to have someone step up there.
Q: What else needs improving?
Coach O: We are nowhere near where we want to be in the passing game - either in protection or at quarterback. We also need more playmakers at wide receiver. On defense, we have to have more consistency out of the defensive line. Obviously our defense will instantly improve when Patrick Willis gets back in the lineup in August.
* The Rebels will be off during spring break next week and will resume practice a week from Monday. The next practice open to the media will be Saturday April 1.
* We will publish an interview with OC Dan Werner and a photo gallery from today's practice tomorrow.
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