The following are the results of Wednesday's Q & A between Coach Ed Orgeron and the media.
Q: You have discussed a lot of the freshmen in post-practice interviews because that's where we have focused our attention. How about the progress of some of the veterans?
Coach O: I feel Michael Oher is having a fantastic camp. A guy who is really coming along is Quentin Taylor. We switched him and Garry Pack back to Will and Sam, respectively, because we feel they are more at home where they were in spring, and Quentin has come to play. He knows he has to compete to earn a spot and we are pleased with his performance. CBs Trumaine McBride and Nate Banks are having good camps. We are very confident about their ability and we need that because we have to have great corner play in this league. Jamarca Sanford is not back to his old self yet, but he's coming. He's done nothing wrong, but he's going to take a little time to get back in the swing of things. Chris Bowers is doing a good job. He's gained some weight and he's had some good days in practice. His assignments are sound and he's progressing.
Q: How big a difference has it made to have the new guys on your staff?
Coach O: A lot. Their organization, daily activity and the way they install things is very good, very positive. Their work ethic is very good. We are going in a great direction. If something is not going right on the field, it is immeidately fixed - they have an answer. They know the system inside and out. They have installed confidence in our offensive players. Ask the defense - they will tell you how much the offense is improving. They are hard to stop right now. It's overall productivity, overall atttiude, overall organization and leadership.
Q: Do you feel the attitude, unity and bond of the staff has filtered down to the team?
Coach O: Yes. That's what we want. That's a part of all good programs. That's where it starts. I think we have something special in guys like Art Kehoe who brings some cohesiveness to the unit. David Saunders has done a great job with the LBs. He's also special in recruiting and helps us critique. He knows a lot of Ole Miss people since he has been here before. He fits right in with what we are doing here.
Q: When will you go in full pads?
Coach O: Probably Saturday, which will be our first full scrimmage, but I'm not definite on that yet.
Q: Talk about the influence Hugh Freeze has had on the staff and what he has meant to you.
Coach O: He's meant a lot. He was my right hand man last year and helped me out a lot. His organizational skills are excellent. He brings a lot of head coaching experience to the table. I can run things by him and trust him. He does a tremendous job in recruiting and knows a lot of people who think the world of him. He's respected. He handles certain game-day situations for me and I trust him with those. I run things by him all the time for his opinion and advice. Every night in the staff meeting, he comes up with a game situation and we decide how to deal with those special situations as a staff. When to go for two, when to call a timeout, what to do if it's raining, a lot of little things that prepare the staff for every situation imagineable. The tight ends he coaches love him. I really feel he's a guy who will move up quickly on my staff and move up quickly in the college football ranks. He's that type of coach.
Q: How is Garry doing at Sam?
Coach O: He's doing fine. He's at home at Sam and I think he's glad to be back there. He didn't seem completely comfortable at Will so we decided that it would be best for the team to move him back to Sam.
Q: What are the main things you have to do to get this team to move up the ladder?
Coach O: Focus on my team getting better. Get recruits here. I really believe we have raised the bar here talent-wise. I see the talent difference on the field. Are we ready to do it yet? No. We have a lot of gelling to do and a lot of getting better to do. I also had to make sure we are going to get the offense right. I had to hire someone who could get it done. I have to get Dan (Werner) enough talent and tools to get it done. Now, I do nothing on offense. I make suggestions on personnel and I try to teach effort. Obviously, I will make game-day decisions like going for it on fourth down, etc, but that's it. I completely trust Dan, Art, Hugh and the offensive staff. They have taken a big burden off me so I can be closer to my team. I can spend more time with my team. I get to know the guys better. We all understand each other now. We are having more fun as a football team and have been able to relax some as a team. We all know when it's time to ease up and when it's a time to get going. That's a big part of football. I spend a lot of time on the defense and with the defensive line, which I love. I also get to spend more time with the LBs and special teams and recruiting. I feel not having to worry about the offense has played to the strengths I have and the strengths of my staff.
Q: How is placekicking going?
Coach O: It looks like it may come down to Joshua Shene and Justin Sparks. I'd like it to come down to two. Justin has gotten stronger and is more mature. You can see him wanting to be the kicker and liking being here.
Q: How much time do you spend in recruiting in terms of matching personalities and not just athletic ability?
Coach O: I like to start on recruits early so we can get to know them. We like to get to know their families. I think being around them and being in their homes let's us see their fit, their personality. That's the biggest difference with me as a head coach. I get one in-home versus six the assistants get. I require my staff to get them here so I can get to know them and be around them so I can judge the fit. There are a lot of things you can pick up and a lot of things you can ask them to learn if they really love football. Most of these young men have been in our camp. I think there are two things: we know them and they know us. When they get here, there are no surprises either way. They understand the program and accept it. They want to be here and be an Ole Miss Rebel. Today was picture day. I made sure I was with them because this is a special day, especially for the newcomers. I talked to them about wearing the Ole Miss uniform and what it means. How important it is to put that jersey on and what it means when we put that jersey on.
Q: How are the backup QBs doing?
Coach O: They are doing well. They had a lot of reps in the spring and have progressed.
Q: You mentioned P Michael Swansay the other day. Any more walkons showing up well?
Coach O: Yes, we had some defensive linemen who came alive yesterday. Garrett Ryan and a couple of more. Our staff did a tremendous job in bringing some good walkons in here. Some of them will play on special teams and will be an outstanding scout team unit. Some of them will earn scholarships.
Note: We were told we'd have a complete list of walkons Monday at Media Day that we can add to our roster.
Q: How is Ryan Nielsen doing as the DL coach?
Coach O: Great. He's a perfect fit. He's young, energetic and in good shape. He runs around a lot in practice coaching his kids up. I coached him and he knows exactly what I want. There are times I jump in and help him and I can jump out and know he's going to keep going just like we need it done.
Q: How is BenJarvus Green-Ellis doing?
Coach O: He's very focused and leading by example. When he transferred here, he had work to do on his conditioning. He is in great condition, he's making big plays out there and the team has a lot of confidence in him. He knows I'm not going to say much about him until he does it on game day time after time. And he has done it in a big time conference, so he will here too. When he does it, it will be no surprise to me. We have to give him a supporting cast, but if we do, I know he will be a very good back for us.
Q: How is Robert Lane doing at TE?
Coach O: Excellent. Great. Also Lawrence Lilly. He showed up with a new attitude and is conditioned very well. He's smelling the end of his career and wants to do well. He's a good athlete, catches the ball well and he has to have a good year for us.
Q: Is anything clearing up in the battles at center and right guard?
Coach O: James McCoy had a very good day at RG yesterday. These things can change, obviously. Thomas Eckers is holding his spot at center right now. The wild card is that I look for John Jerry to come into the picture sooner or later. I don't know when, but he is very, very talented.
Q: What about the overall line play?
Coach O: We are trying to build some continuity on the OL and not move those guys around as much as we did last year. I think we still have some experimenting to do though. It's coming together slowly but surely.
Q: Are you still awaiting official word on John Jerry clearance from the NCAA?
Coach O: Yes. I don't know when it will come, but I'm sure it is being reviewed.
Wednesday press conference
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