Postgame press conference -

After th 20-17 victory over Mississippi State this afternoon, Ed Orgeron was standing at the podium in the team meeting room ready to address the media. For a minute, he couldn't take his eyes off the Golden Egg perched up beside him. Read his press conference inside.

The following is Coach Ed Orgeron's press conference following the 20-17 Rebel victory over Mississippi State in the annual Egg Bowl. 57,000-plus fans watched the game come down to the last kick, a 51-yarder that was wide left by the Bulldogs.

Coach O's Opening Statement: "It was a very physical football game. We went in at halftime and knew we had to dig deep. MSU was getting the momentum running the ball with Anthony Dixon. He's tough and physical. I was proud of the way the defense played in the second half. I was proud for the seniors. They have stuck by me for two years and have brought a great amount of chemistry to our team. To see Patrick Willis win his last game is special. I'm happy for him, but I am sad to see him go. He brought a lot of positive things to our university, on and off the field. We will miss him and all the seniors.

"We found a way to win a game at the end. I know our guys wanted to beat MSU and I'm happy for them. It's a good rivalry and we needed to get that done.

"We will move on to next season immediately. We have to get better in a lot of areas. We will start work on that right now."

Q: What were the defensive adjustments you made at halftime?

Coach O: I think we just got tougher. We ran the same defenses, but our attitude was better and we tackled better. We got after them more.

Q: Talk about your special teams play and the return by Marshay Green.

Coach O: It won the game. We were in punt safe guarding against a fake punt and Marshay started making some great moves. Then Peria Jerry had a tremendous block that sprung him. Our special teams have improved tremendously this year. We are faster and young. It should be exciting for years to come.

Q: What were you doing defensively on State's last TD drive?

Coach O: Everything. We rushed and played man coverage. We dropped and played zone. We blitzed. Nothing worked. We used Patrick and Rory at defensive end on third downs because we felt we could get after their QB with more speed on the edge. It worked a couple of times, but the guys we replaced them with weren't experienced enough in coverage. Patrick came from end on his QB sack earlier in the game.

Q: Explain the QB change.

Coach O: We weren't moving the ball. I told Dan (Werner), who does a good job of gauging those guys, that if he felt Brent wasn't getting it done to go to Seth. That's what he did.

Q: How about Greg Hardy at wide receiver?

Coach O: We saw him in some drills a couple of weeks ago catching everything. GA Dave Carrao said we should put him at WR and throw him the fade. So we did it and it worked.

Q: Talk about Marshay.

Coach O: He's shifty, fast and fearless. He's really come on strong the past two games. I'm happy for him.

Q: What does the victory mean to you and your staff?

Coach O: It means a lot because we have been so close and haven't gotten it done several times. It's good to do it against a rival. To get the Egg means a lot to me. But we won't worry about this one too much. We need to move on. We feel we fell short this year, especially not winning at Alabama and LSU in overtime. It's my job to find a way to win those games so we can have winning seasons and compete better in the SEC.

Q: What do you take from this season into next year?

Coach O: First, we made tremendous strides in the OL and get all of them back except Andrew Wicker. We have to figure out how we will play our defense without Patrick, but we get Rory back. We are thin at LB. We are thin overall. We will have more players next year after a full recruiting class. Hopefully, we will be able to rotate more players next year and build more on our special teams. We also shored up the coaching staff with the Miami guys and guys like Hugh Freeze, who did a tremendous job with the punt team and in bringing us new ideas. Guys like Frank Wilson bring us a lot of energy. We have to continue to improve on offense and we have to get better and more defensive linemen.

Q: What does Brent Schaeffer need to do in the offseason?

Coach O: We will evaluate everything and work him in some drills to get him better where he fell short this year. He also needs a good offseason in the weight room and in conditioning.

Q: Why did you decide to go for it on fourth-and-one at the end?

Coach O: We didn't think we'd gain much field position by punting it from their 36. We were trying to be aggressive and put the game away. One yard and we would have. I thought we'd get it and the game would be over.

Q: What was your view of the last field goal by MSU that was no good?

Coach O: I was looking for the block first, but when I looked up I could tell it was wide left. That was a nice sight.

Q: How is Viciente DeLoach?

Coach O: I'm not sure what happened to him, but we were having trouble with our gaps at DE and I told Coach Ryan Nielsen to put another guy in. He said we didn't have another guy. At halftime, we put Peria Jerry at DE and Brandon Jenkins at NT. We got bigger there and that helped.

Q: Does Dan make the decision on the QB switches?

Coach O: No, I make the decision. I may have been a little bit quick at LSU. Dan knew what I was wanting and I told him to let me know when he thought it was time to make a move and we'd talk about it. Like I said, I may have gone a little quick at LSU, but we did not feel we played at quarteback the way we should have this year. We have to get better there.

Q: Talk about your running game.

Coach O: They stacked the box and did a good job. This was one of the few times we did not block well for BenJarvus Green-Ellis. MSU penetrated our line too many times for negative plays. There were a lot of times I thought we could have iced the game with a first down or two to get us going, but we couldn't get it done. State kept battling. Credit them.

Q: Are you relieved to win?

Coach O: Yes, but mostly I was happy for the team. They got their hearts broken badly at LSU, giving it everything they had only to come up short. To come back from that was special. Monday was a great day for us in practice. It wasn't an easy week to bounce back from that loss, but our kids and coaches did it and I'm happy for all of them.

Q: You scored on your first possession, but then things got tougher offensively.

Coach O: We wanted to start fast and finish strong, which we did by scoring first and then by playing better defense in the second half.

Q: What did you see out of Green when you recruited him?

Coach O: To be honest, I didn't recruit him. He was already committed when I got here and I honored the commitment. But he didn't qualify and had to sit out a semester to get his grades right. After he returned two punts in the Louisiana All-Star game, we decided we really wanted him then. He came in for spring ball and has done a great job since.

Q: Can you compare the morale of the team from now to a week ago?

Coach O: Now and a week ago? It's the same. Our kids never got down after several tough losses. We came together as a team. Now had you asked about the morale between this year and last year, I would say night and day. We got back on the bus from Baton Rouge last week and we believed we were going to beat MSU. We were not going to settle for less - all of us. As far as this year from last, the new coaches have helped that a lot. Art Kehoe brought a lot of winning ways up front to spark that group. He works them hard, but jokes with them too. We have excellent unity. Patrick and all the seniors decided to buy into the program and gave it everything they had. They could see us moving forward a little.

Q: What does this win mean?

Coach O: It's big to win the Egg Bowl. But a big victory to me is winning the Sugar Bowl. That's the goal of my program. It helps to win the Golden Egg and beat MSU. We have to beat them to get where we want to go, which is the Sugar Bowl and we will not settle for anything less.

Q: Is it rare for a guy like Patrick to play DE after all his years at LB?

Coach O: Not many players could do that, but this afternoon before the game he was with me and we were working on techniques. I knew he could pull it off, but not many could.

OM Spirit Top Stories