Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron seemed as relaxed as he's been in quite some time when he participated in a brief Q & A with several members of the media after today's practice in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The questions floated all over the spectrum of football, from the game Saturday at LSU to his growth as a head caoch from year one to year two.
* The hostile environment of Tiger Stadium opened the discussion.
"We will work with crowd noise, like we did before the Alabama and Arkansas games, but I think this one is going to be a little different," he smiled. "It's at night and obviously LSU is a fast-starting team at home, which gets the crowd more involved. They are powerful on offense and defense. Statistically, they are the best team in the SEC and we have our work cut out for us, but we are looking forward to it."
* LSU QB Jamarcus Russell has thrown 17 TDs and only 1 pick in home games. He's obviously comfortable in Death Valley.
"They love to play in Tiger Stadium. It's one of the best home field advantages in America," O noted. "I think it's always been that way."
* The bye week was again mentioned.
"This time of the year, we needed a rest. There are times in the season when you are on a roll and don't want a break, don't want to stop, but that wasn't the case with us last week. We needed the break," O said. "I can tell a difference in the team this week with fresh legs. Guys like Peria Jerry are better health-wise too. He's had a good week of practice and is doing well."
* Orgeron's Louisiana background and his memories of the Ole Miss-LSU rivalry were also brought up.
"I remember Archie Manning and the guys who played in those games were legends when I was growing up. It was always a big game. We just looked up to the people who played at LSU and the people who played at Ole Miss," said O. "It was special, and still is."
* Frosh FB Andy Hartmann has been filling in for injured Jason Cook at FB. Cook is off the injury list now, O said.
"Andy was a tremendous find for us. A great walkon and an outstanding young man. Jason Cook is an outstanding young man and a team leader. We're glad to have them. They have their work cut out for them this weekend, but I believe they can handle it," Orgeron continued. "Fullbacks are wired a little differently because they are glorified guards. They catch the ball in the flat every once in a while and they block. Our guys do a good job and love their work."
* Mico McSwain seems to have been moved exclusively to wide receiver for now and Orgeron is pleased with his progress.
"Mico made an outstanding catch today. I think he has a chance to be an excellent receiver," O added. "He's doing very well since the switch from tailback."
* O was asked what he has learned from his first year to his second year as a head coach.
"I've learned my team a lot better. I have learned my coaching staff a lot better. I learned the layout of the SEC," he stated. "We have competed in every game this year as the season has progressed, but we have to finish strong. We are in a position to do that this year."
* LSU loves to zone blitz and the zone blitz seems to be the "vogue" strategy defensive coordinators are calling these days. A little Football 101, please, coach. What is a zone blitz?
"Basically, it's rushing five and playing zone coverage. Usually, you will drop a defensive lineman into underneath coverage with a linebacker and strong safety and rush three DL and two linebackers with a three-man deep zone," O explained. "It gives you a chance to blitz and still have a free safety in the post so you won't give up the big play.
"In the past, a lot of coaches used a zero blitz with no free safety and it was feast or famine. Zone blitz is not feast or famine. It's a controlled blitz and it enables you to confuse pass protections."
The Rebels will conclude full-speed practices for the week tomorrow.
Practice Report: Wednesday
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