Coach O

The following is a transcript of Ole Miss Football Coach Ed Orgeron's press conference at Ole Miss Media Day today. It starts with a long opening statement followed by some 30-odd questions in the 30-minute session with the press. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss Football Coach Ed Orgeron's Media Day press conference.

Coach O's opening statement: "We had a very physical practice today. We are right in the middle of fall camp and some guys are starting to show up a little bit.

"Michael Oher continues to have a great camp. He's in fantastic condition and seems to be at home at left tackle. Andrew Wicker is having a pretty good camp at left guard and Eckers has played well at center. The right guard is still open with Mo Miller leading hte way right now, but we've tried Corey Actis there recently too, to go along with James McCoy who is also centering some. Darryl Harris seems to have locked down on the right tackle slot. A guy who is coming up fast on the depth chart is John Jerry. He's big and physical and we are pleased with him. At tight end, we have Robert Lane, Lawrence Lilly and Robert Hough who are having a good camp. At wide receiver, we still have work to do. Marshay Green is the starting Z, Mike Wallace is the starting X and Dexter McCluster would be our third receiver going into the games. We are pleased with the way Dexter has scrimmaged and we are fired up about having him with the ball in his hands. At fullback, Jason Cook and Reggie Hick are doing well. At tailback, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Mico McSwain and Cordera Eason are doing well. Cordera is really coming along nicely in his early practices. At QB, we are pleased with Brent Schaeffer. He continues to learn the offense and make very few mistakes. His conditioning is getting a lot better too. The backup right now would be Seth Adams.

"On defense, we are still mixing and matching along the defensive line. We have not found a solid front four yet that I am happy with. We will continue to work with all of them and mix things up there. We're trying to find a place for Marcus Tillman, Peria Jerry - he might be at tackle or end, depending on the others, Hayward Howard is just starting to practice and his conditioning needs to pick up. Jeremy Garrett has had a solid camp at nose tackle and is definitely our starter there. He's been my most pleasant surprise and has come to work. Brandon Jenkins will play tackle or nose. At LEO, we have Chris Bowers, Greg Hardy and Kentrell Lockett, all fighting for a spot there.

"At Sam LB, we moved Garry Pack back there after trying him at Will. He's doing OK, not great, and needs to pick it up some. John Cronell is backing him up. At Will, Quentin Taylor has done a good job and should be our starter there. Patrick is solid in the middle. We've been very careful with how we are practicing him. Behind him is Robert Russell, who is doing just OK. At cornerback, Trumaine McBride and Terrell Jackson on one side and Nate Banks and Dustin Mouzon on the other are battling and I feel comfortable with them and their seniority, experience. SS Jamarca Sanford is coming along and FS Charles Clark is very solid and we feel like we have two solid young safeties (Jamal Harvey, Alen Walker) so we should be OK there.

"In the kicking game, Justin Sparks had a tremndous day today kicking field goals. He's a little ahead of Joshua Shene. I expect that competition to continue until the first game. Rob Park is our punter."

Q: Tell us some pluses and minuses from Saturday's scrimamge after you had a chance to watch the film?

Coach O: We ran the ball well. We made very few mistakes on the offensive side of the ball. We kept things simple, but had very few mental mistakes. We need to get our pad level down at the line of scrimmage and get more physical up front. We need to keep working some fundamental things on offense and defense. As I said, we still have work to do on the defensive line.

Q: Does it concern you to have two true freshmen in the starting lineup at WR?

Coach O: Yes, but they are good players. I think if there is a position you can start freshmen at it's at wide receiver. I'll find out after the first game though. I'm happy with their athletic ability and the type of young men they are. I want to say this - we've had 10-11 practices and we have not had a single freshman miss a single practice because of dehydration or getting tired. I think that is fantastic and a credit to our athletes and their work ethic.

Q: You originally had Corey Actis at center and have now moved him to guard. Does that mean you are more comfortable with Thomas Eckers at center?

Coach O: No, it means our guards are not playing well and we have to find our best guys at each position. Thomas is playing OK at center, but he's still not there yet. We are mixing and matching right now. We also wanted to give Corey a chance to be one of our top five.

Q: What differences are you looking for from 2005 to 2006?

Coach O: Continuity on offense. Being able to run the ball. I feel our QB play will be a lot better this year. I think he will be able to make the big plays that are there. The line play has to improve in terms of consistency too. On defense, we have to improve on our turnover ratio and improve on our third-down defense and be able to stop the run.

Q: What did you learn from your first year?

Coach O: Do we have two days? (laughs) I learned I really love it here and love the SEC. I think the SEC is great and I love coaching at Ole Miss, a great university. I think we went out an recruited the type of talent we have to have to compete in the SEC. I'm really excited to have Dan Werner, Art Kehoe, Hugh Freeze and David Saunders on my staff. I think the continuity is better this year on my staff. We have a good morale. We are goin to play as a team.

Q: What are your expectations for Patrick Willis?

Coach O: He makes everyone around him better. He doesn't have a lot to get better at. Last year, he made plays on instinct. This year he understands the defense and knows when to take his shots. He leads by example. He does the job every day.

Q: What does Dan Werner bring to the staff and team?

Coach O: Organization, toughness. He has a lot of the same philosophies I have in coaching. He's there late at night and that's good to see. He's there early in the morning and he fixes the offense's problems. He has a system and I like all that.

Q: Talk more about your defensive line.

Coach O: We're not playing the way we need to be playing there. We're playing high and inconsistently. The offense is running the football on us - we have to get better.

Q: Can you talk about Viciente DeLoach a little.

Coach O: He's battling for a first-team end spot. He's having good days and bad days. I think we are going to have to use him in situations.

Q: What about your wide receiver backups?

Coach O: Everyone is getting a shot out there. Everyone gets graded, everyone gets one-on-one time. We feel the three I mentioned are our best guys right now, but something could happen there. Earlier, I didn't mention Shay Hodge, who is having a fantastic camp. He has great ball skills. He's a great athlete who catches the ball well.

Q: Will Brent have the full playbook for the opener?

Coach O: Yes. Our timing is not where we want it to be in certain ways, but he's bright and has picked up everything well. I think he's right on target in terms of learnin the offense.

Q: Do you like the TB by committee or do you want one 30-carry guy?

Coach O: There is no committee here. The best players will get the ball.

Q: What does BrenJarvus bring to the table?

Coach O: Toughness. He has the uncanny ability to make 3 and 4 yards and look like he's not doing anything and then pop the 15-yarder. He's hard to bring down at the line of scrimmage. It's hard for one guy to bring him down and he understands the offense. He also gives us experience. He ran well in the Big 10 for 2 years.

Q: Is he the starter and who is next?

Coach O: Definitely Mico. We consider him a starter. Then Cordera will get some shots in there.

Q: What are your worries about all the new players?

Coach O: I don't have time to worry. I'm glad to have these athletes and the talent we have. I worried last year. I'd rather have talent that has to get ready than the other. We are willing to take our shots with the new guys and let them grow because we know sooner or later they are going to be very good. We have enough time to get ready because we have no choice.

Q: How much confidence do you have in Brent?

Coach O: A lot. I understood where he fit on our team. Although I think we have some other QBs who can do a good job, we have nobody of his ability besides him.

Q: Talk about Robert Lane's transition.

Coach O: I think TE is a smart move for him - a fit. The type of offense Dan runs, the TE is a priority and I think Robert will be fine there.

Q: Are you working on Memphis yet?

Coach O: No. We are focusing on us right now and for the next two weeks. We will begin game preparations during game week.

Q: How is Bruce Hall doing?

Coach O: I didn't mention Bruce? He had a great scrimmage. He's right in there in the mix. I think he will be an excellent player for us. He will play and may play a lot.

Q: Talk about FS Charles Clark.

Coach O: He's talented and is our QB of the secondary. He gets everyone lined up on defense and is excellent in the post defending agains the deep ball. He's very mature and handles the team well.

Q: How do you feel about your players on special teams besides the kickers and return people? The coverage and protection guys.

Coach O: I feel a lot better this year because we have zeroed in on putting the best players on special teams. We have worked that hard. We had an excellent day of KOR Saturday and it was because up front doing their jobs. We will use a lot of freshmen on special teams this year, but I don't mind that at all.

Q: Would you consider LB a strength on your defense?

Coach O: With Patrick, yes, but I'm not ready to say that about Garry and Quentin yet. The unit should be pretty good because of Patrick. It can be very, very good if the other two come on a little.

Q: How are the walkons doing?

Coach O: We have a lot of walkons and I think they understand their role. Our service team is very important to us. We have some guys who are coming along and it's important they are great on the service team. Right now, I don't believe they will get much playing time, but they are important to us and are doing a good job.

Q: Talk about Michael Oher and other linemen who look better.

Coach O: They lost body fat, gained muscle and strength in the summer. Aaron Ausmus did a tremendous job in the weight room. Our guys were here every day working very hard. I think I have one of the best strength coaches in America. You can see the difference. We are starting to look like an SEC football team.

Q: How is the PK game?

Coach O: Suspect. Nobody has jumped up and grabbed it like I had hoped, but we still have three weeks to go.

Q: What are your expectations for this team?

Coach O: I expect us to get better each week. We have a bunch of new guys playing, so I'm not putting high expectations on these kids, but we will get better each week and play as a team.

Q: When you looked at the schedule did you almost pass out?

Coach O: No. I love the schedule. That's what I came here for. Let's play ball. Let's go.

Q: Last year you made the QB live in practice some. Any thoughts of that with Brent?

Coach O: Nobody is hitting the QB this year, by orders of the head football coach!

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