O: 'You can feel it; it's football time'

Coach Ed Orgeron met with the media outside Deaton Hall on the Ole Miss campus today as the Rebel newcomers checked in. Here's what the third-year UM head coach had to say.

Q: How many of these guys do you expect to contribute?

O: Especially along the defensive front and the linebacking corps and the cornerbacks where we're really short, we think all those guys will get a great opportunity to play. Looking at the running backs, we're pretty solidified there with no new guys. The offensive line I think we're finally in a position to where we've got our starting group. Maybe a (new) guy could break into, but it's highly unlikely. We have the luxury of giving our (new) guys some experience so later on they'll be better players.

Q: Does the fact that you played so many new guys last year make the new guys this year hungrier for camp?

O: Sure, no doubt. They see the opportunity. I would love for some unexpected player to get beat out by a freshman. I believe that would solidify the philosophy of our program.

Q: Who is and isn't here as far as reporting?

O: A.J. Jackson is not going to be here. David Rue is not going to be here. Those two guys will definitely not qualify. Johnny Brown and Chris Strong will not report today. They haven't been provisionally admitted into school. I expect a decision on those guys Friday. I think it will be favorable. I'm not sure but we'll see on Friday. Everybody else is supposedly here.

Q: Is this one of the more exciting days of the year for you?

O: Yeah, no doubt. You can feel it in the air. It's football time. Our coaches are excited. I'm really excited to see all the hard work in recruiting. I think we have a tremendous class, and I'm looking forward to all these guys coming in.

Q: It's different nowadays since most of these guys have already been here this summer.

O: First of all, in the past all the parents would be here, it was a big day, everybody's nervous. Now they've been here. They know the team. They know where to go. So it's kind of just a regular day today as far as reporting. You don't see as many parents here. You don't see the guys getting homesick. So the traditional reporting day has kind of changed because of that.

Q: How does that change what you try to do as far as practicing?

O: We'll blend them right in (with the rest of the team). Going through our preseason practice schedule, we have to make room for the 3s to get work. We haven't had to do that since I've been here. Now we've got a full third string and sometimes a fourth string at some positions. So we're going to have 3s getting into the rotation.

Q: You've got to be smiling about that.

O: Yes, I'm very happy about that. There are some guys who will move up the depth chart very fast. I'm looking for an influx of guys to help us on special teams. We're looking for our fastest players to play special teams.

Q: Do you think the new guys know what to expect as far as camp?

O: No. Just the speed and intensity is going to be different. At camp you hit the ground running. It's different than anything they've ever experienced. Also you feel you've accomplished something when you go through it. Summer is only getting ready for camp. Some of that gets you ready for the season, but camp really gets you ready for the season. The guys understand that summer conditioning helps you get through camp.

Q: Talk about JUCO punter Bryan Powers.

O: We felt that after looking at our squad and where we could get better that we needed a punter. To be honest with you, we faxed every junior college in the country, and we got about 15 faxes back from guys who were eligible. We sent out for film of those guys, and that's how we found them.

Q: What impressed you about him?

O: His average. The way he can flip the field. He has a strong leg. He came in and there were some parts of his technique that we didn't like. So I believe we'll be able to adjust his technique and that he'll be a good punter for us.

Q: What's going to be your biggest focus as you open camp?

O: Finish. Finishing. Finishing. Finishing. I've said it all along, we were outscored three to one. So we want to finish everything we do, put them into position where they learn how to finish. And to develop depth along the offensive and defensive lines.

Q: What impact do you expect Peria Jerry to have this year?

O: Immediate. He changes the game. He has tremendous get-off. He's hard to single block. With his injury we'll have to see if he's able to go through everything. I won't know if he's 100 percent until then. My goal is to get him up to 100 percent by the time the season starts.

Q: Is there anything you can share about returning guys who may not be eligible?

O: We have Mico McSwain, Antonio Turner, Nate Banks, and Brandon Jenkins who have to go through August Intercession (classes). Obviously there is a question on all of them. Most of them will have a chance. Mico is the most questionable one right now. I think the rest of the guys have a good chance of making it. They have to do well in August Intercession. They won't go through practice, and when they come back, they have to earn their way back up through the depth chart. I feel it's their responsibility to the team to be able to report on time, so this is not taken lightly.

Q: What defines who can and who can't practice now as far as eligibility goes?

O: You have to come provisionally admitted into the university to practice. Sometimes school (for a certain player) finishes a little bit later than others. That's sometimes the only difference.

Q: How vital is each day for those kids who miss practices?

O: It's not going to hurt them and it's not their fault. It's different than a young man going through August Intercession. But the more they miss, the more they get behind and the more their conditioning level lags and their learning of the defensive and offensive schemes.

Q: What gives you the faith you seem to have in the offensive line?

O: Art Kehoe. It starts with Art Kehoe. He gets them going. Michael Oher, John Jerry, Corey Actis, Mo Miller, and Reid Neely, just my experience as a coach, I think this is one of the best lines I've been around. Have they reached that? No. Have they performed like that? No. But that's what I expect of that line, and there will be high expectations on their performance. They've had a tremendous attitude this summer.

Q: How different is your offensive and defensive lines compared to two years ago when you arrived?

O: Night and day. It's finally becoming what we expect of SEC lines. We're bigger and we're more athletic.

Q: Are you prepared to talk about any position changes yet?

O: Greg (Hardy) will play both ways. That is if he can handle it, obviously. Markeith Summers is going to change because of our depth from defensive back to wide receiver. And I think that's all right now. There's a lot of jockeying and a lot of recruiting going on and around with my staff. Guys are secretly trying to recruit guys to go over to the other side, which is a good thing. We'll make all those decisions as we see fit.

Q: Talk about the quarterback position?

O: I'm happy with what's going on. Sometimes in football things play out. I plan to let that play out and let the best man win. There are signs pointing in a direction we feel it's going to go into, that Seth (Adams) is showing leadership ability. Brent (Schaeffer) is liable to come in here and have a great two-a-days. I want it to be a hard decision, but I want it to be clear. Let me say this, Michael Herrick has gained 21 pounds. Michael Herrick is 6-foot, ¾ inches, 187 pounds. Brent Schaeffer is 6-1. There is a quarter of an inch difference between Michael Herrick's height and Brent's height. Everybody asks me if Michael's too small. I don't know anybody that's not going to play a guy because of a quarter of an inch. I really think Michael has done a tremendous job in the weight room and he's worked on some things. So I expect him to really push for the starting position.

Q: Do those three guys' different styles change your thinking about what you want to do on offense?

O: I would like to think that it would. We did that last year and it did not work. It just didn't. If Seth's the quarterback, obviously ther are some things we wouldn't do with Seth that we would do with Brent. But overall we have a style and a philosophy that we have tweaked to fit what we want to do. We want to find a quarterback that fits into that system.

Q: How much have you tweaked your defense with John Thompson coming on board?

O: Basically you'll see the same style of defense. A little more stuff that will confuse protections. Probably more blitzing on first down. More or less the same stuff. I'll say this to you, he has done a tremendous job coming in with a tremendous attitude. I really love my working relationship with John Thompson.

Q: You brought Monte Kiffin (longtime defensive coach in college and the NFL) in here earlier. How much of his stuff will you incorporate?

O: Monte and Pete (Carroll of Southern Cal) share a lot of the same philosophies. We did tweak it a little more toward what Monte would do than what Pete would do. You'll see eventually but obviously I'm not going to say what we're going to do. I'm sold on what we're doing. We're finally keeping our offensive and defensive and special teams schemes on the cutting edge, more what Coach Carroll does, what Monte does. We also brought in Alex Gibbs (longtime NFL offensive assistant) as a consultant. He's a fantastic coach. We'll bring him back in as a consultant. So we have some direction with where each part of our team is going.


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