Monday Press Conference

Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron said in his Monday press conference that if he could, he'd get on the bus to Tuscaloosa today and head to Crimson Tide country. "The Alabama game is the reason you play in the SEC," said O. Read the transcript of his press conference inside.

Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron held his weekly press conference during the lunch hour today. The following is the transcript of the gathering.

Coach O's Opening Statement: "Obviously we are very happy to get the win against Vanderbilt. We saw a lot of positives when we watched the film of the game. We were really pleased with only yielding three points on three sudden changes when we had turnovers on offense. I think that was a turning point in the game. We fought to the end. We had our backs against the wall, but our guys fought and found a way to win the game.

"We created four turnovers on defense, one on special teams and, essentially, blocked another punt. I count that as a turnover. Our program is about the ball. The play of LB Rory Johnson was exceptional, even on film. He made a couple of mistakes but you could see his athletic ability and his speed. He gets to the ball and is around the ball all the time. That helps our defense a whole bunch. We are getting improved play from the defensive front, especially NT Brandon Jenkins. He's coming along well. Greg Hardy had a dominating performance with eight tackles. He's a really good DE and he still doesn't know exactly what to do yet. The future is bright for him. The interception by Charles Clark was also a big play for us. I was impressed with the way the defense fought, even though we gave up some big plays at the end on some busted coverages.

"On offense, we were a little disappointed in our performance. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had another 100-yard game and TE Lawrence Lilly did a good job.

"Looking toward Alabama, we're really excited to go there and play. This is why you come to the SEC. I look forward to this game and our team will be fired up and ready to play. I felt we played good against them last year. We know we can go in there and compete and give them our best shot. They will get our best shot - I guarantee that.

"They are plus-8 in their turnover ratio and are 4-2 on the year. On defense, they fly around and go after the football. Joe Kines is a great defensive coordinator. We will have our work cut out for us on offense. On their offense, Kenneth Darby is a good RB, their OL is pretty good, Keith Brown is fast. We can expect the same type of offense we saw last year. We know how to defend it, but I'm sure they will add a couple of wrinkles to it. We will have to battle them in special teams, but I'm very pleased with the direction of our special teams."

Q: You gave Vandy a lot of different looks on defense. Did that lead to some confusion on Vandy's part and consequently led to some of the turnovers?

Coach O: We put in a couple of new things to counteract some looks that had been hurting us. We weren't going to go in there with the same stuff because some of it we weren't playing well. That took away some of their take-option game. I credit the staff for coming up with some new things and I think our kids just played harder around the ball.

Q: Talk about BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Coach O: We thought he was a big-time SEC back and I'm really pleased with what he's doing. Also we have to credit the OL and OL Coach Art Kehoe. He has molded a new OL into a workable unit. Are they where we need to be? No, but we are coming along. Ben's a good runner.

Q: What is the assessment of the team at the midway point and how close are you to being where you want to be?

Coach O: A lot of teams could say this, but I feel we are only a few plays away from being 3-0 in the SEC. I believe we had a chance to win the Kentucky game. I look back at a key turnover on third and three in four-down territory. I thought we should have won that game. It was our fault we didn't win it - we beat ourselves. Then if you look at the Georgia game, there were a lot of calls that could have gone the other way. We are very close to being where we want to be in the SEC. We are disappointed in how we played against Missouri and Wake Forest. We are getting where we need to be, but we are not there yet. We should have a better record right now, but that's the past. I really think we can compete to win against everyone left on our schedule, and we should.

Q: How much were you able to rotate guys on the DL and how much did that help?

Coach O: It helped just to be able to look on the sidelines and see we had choices. That was good. Peria got in there, Brandon Jenkins didn't have to do it all. Hayward Howard got in there some, but Marcus Tillman played most of the game. Against Alabama, we are going to need to rotate our guys and get some help from the backups.

Q: What has been the biggest difference in the defense the last two games?

Coach O: The DL is playing better. The linebackers are playing a lot better. We are playing with a new, more aggressive attitude. We simplified a lot of things. We went back to getting after it in practice and just getting to the ball. There were a lot of blue jerseys around the ball last Saturday. We are swarming. We are playing with 110% effort and we are going into the games with an attitude you have to have to play defense on this level. We need to continue to build on that.

Q: Talk about the Bryant-Denny environment.

Coach O: I'd leave today. I would. I'd get on a bus today. I would. This is why you coach. These are the arenas you want to be in.

Q: What do you have to do to get your passing game going?

Coach O: Having Dexter McCluster out didn't help. There are a lot of plays that are called for Dexter. But beyond that, we have to get in a variety of formations, be more multiple - maybe moreso on first down, being less conservative. Dan (Werner) was conservative because I asked him to be conservative. BenJarvus is a great player and we need to use him, but I also think we need to open it up a little bit and have a little more freedom in our calls. We need to give Brent Schaeffer more short, easy throws, too. We need to develop a quick passing game. We need to be more multiple with our sets and open it up more. If we get a quick game going, that will give Brent some confidence, but our protection also has to improve as well as our receiver play.

Q: Is there any update on Dexter?

Coach O: He came to see me yesterday and he's fine. I don't know when he will practice, but he should play in the game.

Q: What about Robert Lane?

Coach O: I think he will be out a couple of weeks.

Q: Would an off week help Brent, you think, for timing purposes?

Coach O: It doesn't matter. We don't have an open week. Spring ball and summer will be good for him, but he has enough ability that he should be doing better. Needing an off week is an excuse and we don't need excuses on this team.

Q: Any chance to get any of your walking wounded back?

Coach O: Sure. They are rehabbing fulltime. Jeremy Garrett may practice Wednesday, but I will believe it when I see it.

Q: Are you going to pipe in some crowd noise for practices this week?

Coach O: Yes. Wednesday and Thursday.

Q: What has helped on special teams the last couple of weeks create some big plays?

Coach O: The hard work is paying off, we have some good athletes and we are exposing some weaknesses of the opposition we have seen on film. Will Moseley has been a weapon kicking off, we have good return people and we have speed for coverage and blocking.

Q: Talk about Rory Johnson, the SEC defensvie player of the week.

Coach O: He got here late and had to get in shape. We play a lot of different defenses with a lot of different fits and coverages. He just had to get used to those things. He and Brandon Jenkins and Andrew Wicker are the three most improved players on this team since the season has started. I thought Rory played a fantastic game. He missed a couple of things, but he can take a wrong step and make it up with speed. A slower player will get exposed with a wrong step. We are really excited that he's become the player he has. The most impressive play he made was deep in our territory when he stripped the ball. That was a big-time play for us. I think he would have scored if B. Brown had not tackled him. (laughs) We are really happy with Rory.

Q: How did B. do in Jamarca's absence?

Coach O: Very well. Really, really well. He made some mistakes but they didn't cost us. He made some good tackles on the bubble screens and made other plays. It's good to see him play well - we need him in the mix and in the rotation.

Q: How did Maurice Miller do at RT?

Coach O: Mo played really well. He was big and physical and I'm happy to see him play. I thought he did well. He made a couple of blocking mistakes where we missed a linebacker when he came over the top - technique mistakes. He did well besides that. David Traxler may come back this week, but I'm starting MO. He earned it.

Q: You have a lot of freshmen making plays on special teams.

Coach O: It is their opportunity to shine and they are enthusiastic about it. We try to put our fastest guys on the punt block team and a lot of our fastest guys are freshmen. Speed is the difference on our punt block teams.

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