The following is a transcript of Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron's first Monday press conference. Coach O had a long opening statement and then fielded roughly 20 questions.
Coach O's opening statement: "Things are going very well as we enter our third day of practice. I am excited to see all the new guys coming in - we have 44 new players on our team. The lines are long and I know the older guys like that. We have a lot of players getting a lot of reps. We are training a lot of new players.
"Our coaching staff has prepared very well this summer. You can see an obvious change in the organization of practice. Things are going very smoothly. In our second year, our players know exactly what to expect in camp. They have had an excellent attitude. I love the way they are running around and transitioning from drill to drill, especially on defense. We are in the second year of this defense and you can see the improvement. We're getting better at the little things. I'm really pleased with the dirction of (OC) Dan (Werner) and our offensive staff - the way they work, the way they are into details, the way there are less mistakes on the practice field. I think there's more confidence in the offensive system and you can see it in the players. We have some older guys who are excellent football players who are starting to enjoy practice and enjoying competing against each other. That is a definite step up for our football team.
"On the offensive side of the football, we know we have work to do on the offensive line. Thomas Eckers had a real good day yesterday at center. Corey Actis has gotten bigger and stronger in the weight room during the summer. I look for him to perform better but today is our first day in shells so we don't know much yet. At left guard, we have Andrew Wicker and Reid Neely. At left tackle, we have Michael Oher, who looks really good. He's dropped some body fat and is stronger. He's starting to shine. Backing him up is Marcus Cohen and Don Mosley. At right guard, we have Maurice Miller and James McCoy. (Freshman) John Jerry could play there too but we have him backing up Darryl Harris at right tackle now. John looks like he will be a tremendous football player once he learns the system. We are really pleased with him. We have some gelling to do in the OL, but then we will be fine. David Traxler is out for a couple of days with a minor injury, but should be fine.
"At tight end, we are excited about Robert Lane. You all know how we feel about him and his competitive nature and the type of person he is in making the commitment he made to Ole Miss. I'm also pleased with Lawrence Lilly and his athletic ability and willingness to do the things we ask him to do. Robert Hough is doing well too.
"I really believe the tailback position is shaping up the way we expected with BenJarvus Green Ellis and Mico McSwain, who has only played tailback so far, and Cordera Eason and the others. I think those two guys are really good football players. At fullback, Jason Cook and Reggie Hicks are showing they will be very solid.
"At wide receiver, we have Mike Wallace, Kendrick Lewis, Shay Hodge and Markeith Summers at X. We have Marshay Green at Z. Michael Hicks is also at Z and had a big play yesterday over the middle. A guy we are really excited about is Dexter McCluster. If we go to a three-wide set, he's a starter right now. He's moving up the charts as a freshman.
"At QB, we are really pleased with Brent Schaeffer and the way he is handling the offense. He throws the ball very well, scrambles very well and Dan is pleased with his progress. We have a plan on installation of the offense and we have not had to slow anything down for him. He's picking it up at a good pace.
"Overall, we have a new attitude and new dimension on offense I am excited about.
"On defense, Patrick Willis is fine. I think he is almost completely healthy from his injury and see nothing that is holding him back. I'll probably be the only one holding him back. We moved Garry Pack to Will LB as an experiment and he seems to be doing well. We also moved Robert Russell to Will. We moved Quentin Taylor to Sam because we play that guy more on the line of scrimmage. I am also excited about John Cornell. He's really fast. He needs to learn the defense, but he's in good condition and I think he will be a good player for us. Rory Johnson has not finished his course work yet and we don't know when he will be, but we expect it to happen. When he comes in, we think we will have an exciting LB corps.
"Nate Banks and Trumaine McBride came back with a lot of confidence at cornerback, along with Dustin Mouzon and Terrell Jackson. At strong safety, Jamarca Snaford looks good and we're glad he's back with us after missing spring. He's like a firecracker out there with a lot of spirit. Charles Clark is solid at free safety, but the guys we are really fired up about are freshmen Jamal Harvey and Allen Walker. Thos guys continue to do a great job there.
"In the kicking game Joshua Shene had a good day yesterday along with Justin Sparks and Will Moseley. Our punter is Rob Park and a young man who is a walkon, Michael Swansay. Obviously, the kickoffs are being handled by Moseley. I'm excited about our return game with Mico McSwain, Marshay Green and Dexter McCluster. We feel like we have some playmakers in that group.
"We are in shorts right now and will be in shells today. It's enjoyable being out there and I think our guys are catching on well."
Q: Will Cordera Eason's development determine where you end up playing Mico?
Coach O: That and how well the receivers come around in a game atmosphere. Right now, we feel we are going to keep Mico at tailback, but there are other factors involved, as you say.
Q: Which safety slots will Walker and Harvey play, or do you know yet?
Coach O: We are mixing and matching them right now. Right now, Allen is at strong and Jamal is at free, but Jamal is such a good athlete I think he can play anywhere on the team. We are really pleased with his athletic ability.
Q: What about Bruce Hall? Where does he fit in?
Coach O: He's playing TB and did a good job yesterday. He's a guy we need on the field somewhere - special teams, spelling the TBs. I don't think he'll start at TB, but we will need him. He's important to our team and is a great young man. We're happy to have him.
Q: Is there one player who has stood out to you most that has improved the most since you have been here?
Coach O: There's a major, obvious change at QB. We don't know what this will lead to for sure, but we feel Brent has the tools to be a fantastic player for us. We have a really good TB in BenJarvus and we have depth there. Having Patrick back means a lot. To see the OL progress, like Michael Oher, and to see someone like John Jerry, who is 6-5, 350, gives you confidence you can be strong up front when it all starts. I'm happy with the way we are using the tight end now. We didn't last year, but Robert should have a good season this year at TE. To see a guy like Dexter McCluster touch the ball and be electric is very exciting. Those guys stand out.
Q: Why is the offense more confident?
Coach O: I think the organization. Having Dan and Art (Kehoe) on the same page. Dan has a good system and they are together on it. Our guys believe in it and I think we are suited for this system.
Q: Do you have an idea when these newcomers might be able to help?
Coach O: Not yet because we haven't put on the pads yet, but I really believe that a majority of our recruiting class will play in some form or fashion and some of them may start the first game.
Q: Did it surprise you Robert Lane stayed and that he is excited to play tight end?
Coach O: No. He loves Ole Miss. He loves playing football here. The guy is a competitor. I think him knowing the type of offense Dan is going to run and that the tight end plays a major roll in this offense is good for Robert and he knows that.
Q: Is there anything you have to do to make Brent feel a little more at ease and to take some of the burden off of him?
Coach O: We thought we were going to have to do that, but the team welcomed him in and it's been an easier transition than we expected. He fits in nicely and has a very good personality. I haven't seen anything transitionally we have had to adjust. We were ready if we had to, but to this point it has been very smooth.
Q: Has he worked extra?
Coach O: He's willing, but we have a lot of new players so we are installing everything at the same pace and he's keeping up. It's not like our older guys have been in the same offense for several years. They are all on the same page, which helps him.
Q: Is it unusual to think you are going to play so many freshmen, a statement about the ability of your freshmen or just the position your team is in?
Coach O: All three. We are thin at some spots and will need some freshmen. We are also very pleased with our freshman class and I like to play freshmen. I like the competition and I like to use a rotation, so it's a combination of all three.
Q: What are the goals of the team?
Coach O: Our goal is always to go to the Sugar Bowl and win it. Whether we will do it or not, I will not say right now. We want to get better each week, gel as a team, play as a team. We need to have great staff morale, great team chemistry and we need to enjoy playing football. We will work hard and be a physical, tough, hard-nosed team that will compete to win while having fun.
Q: How do you expect the young guys on the defensive line to perform?
Coach O: We are very talented with Peria Jerry, Marcus Tillman, Hayward Howard, Brandon Jenkins. I haven't spoken about Jeremy Garrett and the great offseason he's had. His attitude is great. He's just what we want at the nose tackle position. I think he's quicker than Michael Bozeman and he's catching on quickly. At LEO, Chris Bowers is having a good camp thus far. Kentrell Lockett, Greg Hardy are also looking good. Can they dominate? I don't know that but I think they are very talented and we can get them up to speed very quickly.
Q: Where do you see Peria fitting in, DE or DT?
Coach O: We are still toying with it. If he can handle it, you may see him at both spots. That all depends on the development of some other players. That's a great luxury to have. Right now he's practicing at tackle and looks good. We have not decided much on that and it will probably be a gameday decision. I think he's a great player.
Q: How far has Michael Oher come since last year?
Coach O: This was his first full offseason and you can tell the change in his body. He's gotten stronger in the weight room. He's a great athlete and has dropped some body fat. He also has a great relationship with Coach Kehoe. He has tremendous confidence in Art.
Q: How is your timing on offense?
Coach O: We need to get in pads to get that down. We have a lot of work to do. We have to find out how everyone is going to react in scrimmage situations. We are just starting and have a lot to do. Today is our first day in shells. THe passing game can be better without pads. You can get the timing down quicker then.
Q: When is the first day of pads?
Coach O: The first day we can go out in pads is two days from now, but I haven't made the decision if we will then or not.
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