The following is Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron's press conference after the narrow 23-17 loss to the 7th-ranked Auburn Tigers at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium today.
Coach O Opening Staement: "I thought our team battled very hard today against Auburn, a very good football team. We had a chance to make some plays on third down and didn't. The two turnovers in the third quarter were critical. When you play a team as good as them, you know you cannot do that and expect to win. I thought we played excellent on both sides of the ball on the line of scrimmage. One of our goals today was to play physical football against a physical team and I was proud to see our guys competed very well. Did we do the things to win the game? No, but I thought we did a lot better and competed at a high level."
Q: In the late stages of the game, Auburn was able to run the ball. Were there some breakdowns then?
Coach O: Not really. They have good backs. I thought we held up well most of the day, but you know a team like Auburn is going to hit a few runs.
Q: You had a fast start today. How beneficial was that for the long haul?
Coach O: Dan Werner had some great play-calling with the fullback pass to Robert Lane up the middle and the reverse to Mico McSwain for the score. We did some real good things on that opening drive and that gave us some early momentum that we held most of the game. It was great to see Robert back out there and to see him making plays. He brings a spark to our team.
Q: After you tied it 17-17, they had a good kickoff return. Any breakdowns there?
Coach O: We missed a couple of tackles. We knew their kickoff return scheme was good and we were concerned with it going into the game. We missed a tackle or two on that return and it hurt us.
Q: Are you pleased with the way the team bounced back after last week's game?
Coach O: That's the team I have been seeing every day in practice. I've been seeing guys who are courageous, guys who come to work, who are together and enthusiastic, they fight. This is the team I've been seeing every day.
Q: Talk about Auburn getting the ball to the fullback/tight end two or three times via the pass.
Coach O: We had a little blitz set up, but our guy didn't get there fast enough a couple of times. We knew Cox threw to his left, but we just couldn't quite get there with the blitz or the coverage.
Q: Were you worried that the events of the past week would hamper the performance today?
Coach O: From being with our all week and with the coaches all week, I could tell our guys were anxious to play Auburn. We were all disappointed in the way we played against Arkansas. They showed strength by not letting anything bother them this week and I was proud of that.
Q: What did you think of Jamarca Sanford's play at lienbacker?
Coach O: I would have to look at the film. I didn't see him make a lot of plays, but I didn't see him make many busts either. I think he will be good there. He gives us more speed there. The tight end may have outmatched him a couple of times, but I think he did well.
Q: What about the play of Rory Johnson and Patrick Willis?
Coach O: Excellent. They are big-time players who come through every week for us.
Q: Were you glad to see them throw the ball 34 times?
Coach O: Yes. We didn't want them to run the football. We wanted to take away the run and we thought we could handle their passing game, but they made a few big plays. They were only 4-14 on third downs though, so that was good.
Q: Talk about Brandon Cox.
Coach O: I knew he was good and we couldn't get to him in time. They had some slants and angle routes that worked for them. He did a good job for them today.
Q: Where is your program right now?
Coach O: Our guys are fighting and competing and starting to play a little better and the way I expect them to play. I think we are 10 times better this year than last year in every area. We are able to battle against the top teams in the country. Do we have the players, the talent, have we been together long enough to consistently win in the SEC? I think we are a year or two away in terms of recruiting and getting the type of players we need to have. I'm proud of our coaches and the direction the program is going.
Q: How do you keep the players from getting frustrated?
Coach O: We have a system here. We get in here on Monday - win, lose or draw - that game is over. We start on the next one. The seniors and the players believe in the coaches and in the program. I don't ahve any concern with that.
Q: What did you think about the article in the Birmingham News that described you as an athletic director's worst nightmare?
Coach O: I don't read the paper or the internet. You are the first person that's said that to me. I'll just say this - we believe in what we are doing and God-willing I will coach until I'm 65. I will win again. I came here a champion and I'm always going to consider myself a champion, no matter what anyone says about me.
Q: How do you put the events of Monday behind the team?
Coach O: You have to be strong. You have to make decisions that are best for the University of Mississippi. I made those. The team knew exactly what was going on. We deal with things head on, like a man should. We made a decision and moved on.
Q: How did Viciente' DeLoach, who played the whole game in place of injured Chris Bowers, do?
Coach O: I was glad we had him. We were down to (SID) Langston (Rogers) at DE if not for him. Chris got hurt and we put Viciente' in there. At halftime he was cramping up badly, but he kept playing. He played good. He hasn't played that position (LEO) all year, but he went in there and battled.
Q: Assess Schaeffer today.
Coach O: He wanted to lead the team today. He wanted to make plays. He played within the scheme. I'm not sure whose fault the interceptions were, but I thought Brent looked pretty good at times today.
Q: Can you win with Brent at QB?
Coach O: Yes. I am convinced we can. He has to be more consistent, but I do believe we can win with him.
Q: Talk about Bruce Hall's play.
Coach O: I loved it. He's a young man who works hard every day and is quiet. When he gets his chance, he makes plays. He's what you call a team player. BenJarvus and Mico are in front of him, but he just bides his time and makes plays. He's tough.
Q: Discuss your defense.
Coach O: They were ready to go. We were playing Auburn at home and we felt we had played good against McPhadden at Arkansas except the screen. I think they played well against the run. We have work to do in the secondary and in coverage, but we will get that fixed.
Q: Whose idea was it to rugby punt today?
Coach O: Coach (Hugh) Freeze. He's an excellent coach. He saw something in Auburn's return team and gameplanned it beautifully. Give him credit and Rob (Park) for executing it very well.
Q: Did you consider taking a long shot at it at the end of the first half instead of running out the clock?
Coach O: Yes, we did. If we had gotten positive yardage on first down, we would have taken a shot, but we didn't so we decided to run out the clock.
Q: Will you stay with the rugby punt?
Coach O: It's available if any return teams do what Auburn's does.
Q: How big a difference would one dominant DL make for you?
Coach O: I felt going into the season Peria Jerry and a recruit who didn't make it would be in the middle with Patrick and Rory and we'd be strong in there, but it didn't work. But I give credit to Brandon Jenkins for stepping in and doing a good job. Our front is playing consistent, but we don't have a dominant pass rusher in there right now. The guys there are doing a good job.
Q: Talk about Auburn OC Al Borges.
Coach O: He's smart. He knows his stuff. He's a good coordinator. Give him credit. I felt we had his scheme down, but the quick game got to us a little bit.
Q: Did you consider blitzing more today?
Coach O: We did, but we didn't get there.
Postgame Press Conference
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