Coach O's Monday press conference

The following is Coach Ed Orgeron's Monday press conference prior to the Rebels' season-opener at Memphis this Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

O's opening statement: We're excited to start the season and crank it up into gameweek. Today will be a full-padded practice. It's usually a shorts practice going over the previous game. Saturday we had a mock scrimmage. It was a good mock scrimmage. Obviously we had a little bit more mistakes than I like. So we have to simplify what we're doing in the game plan against Memphis. I want to go over my depth chart.

On defense you guys have obviously heard me talk about John Thompson. I'm excited about what he's doing on defense. I'm excited about the chemistry in our defensive staff room and what John brings. He The following is Coach Ed Orgeron's press conference on Monday, August 27 prior to brings a different style than I have, and I think It's been fantastic. He's also helped me do my head coaching duties a lot better. On the defensive line I think we're very strong with Marcus Tillman. Peria Jerry has suffered some minor injuries now and then throughout the camp, but we expect him to be full go against Memphis. At nose tackle will be Daverin Geralds or Jerrell Powe. Jerrell has not been cleared yet. But if he does get cleared, he's going to be in the mix there. I don't think he's in condition to go a full game, but I think he's getting there. He's worked very hard. So Daverin's probably going to start the game off at nose tackle. At the LEO position will be Greg Hardy. Greg's going to play both ways for us. That young man's had an outstanding camp. He's an outstanding athlete. We're very strong there. A guy you're probably going to see along the defensive line will be Chris Strong. Obviously when he first got here, we had him at MIKE linebacker. Then we got into the spread offenses and stuff like that, put him in the nickel rush situations and he did very good there. We think right now he will play defensive line against Memphis. That's not to say that he can't play linebacker. But for right now, that's where we're going to put him. At the linebacker position, we moved Jonathan Cornell back to MIKE linebacker. We feel that's our best shot at replacing Patrick (Willis) is with Jonathan. He's experienced and very quick. He can do the things we need our MIKE linebcaker to do. We moved Tony Fein out to the WILL linebacker spot. Not necessarily saying he will start there. We've got three days this week to see if he can handle that new job. At the SAM linebacker will be Ashlee Palmer. Ashlee's had a very good camp for us. Ashlee's a strong safety, outside linebacker type that's very quick. He can move out to a slot. He can play very well in the spread offenses with his feet. We're excited about him. Our defensive backs are going to be Dustin Mouzon at the corner. Terrell Jackson at the other corner. Jamarca Sanford and Kendrick Lewis. We have some young men that can go in and spell for us. We can have a rotation. One of our young defensive backs I'm awfully excited about is Johnny Brown. You will see him in the game. You will see him on special teams. You will see him in the nickel situation.

On offense I can't say enough about Michael Oher. I think Michael has had one of the best camps of an offensive lineman that I can remember. He's going every snap. He's down to a trim 315. He has an unusual work ethic and is really making progress to become the kind of lineman we expect him to be. Reid Neely at left guard is questionable right now. He will go out to practice. He's a little gimpy. If he's not the left guard, Thomas Eckers will be. If Reid's in there, Thomas is also our backup center. Thomas has made a lot of improvement. John Jerry's our right guard. Mo Miller has had a good camp at right tackle. I'm excited about the kind of camp Robert Lane has had and also Robert Hough. I think we're very strong at tight end. We plan in using our tight ends a lot. At wide receiver Marshay Green and Dexter McCluster are by far our two best receivers along with Mike Wallace. Our running back situation as you guys know we're very strong with Green-Ellis, Bruce Hall, and Cordera Eason. Jason Cook has done an outstanding job for us at fullback.

On special teams, Joshua Shene is our kicker. He's also going to be our kickoff guy. He had a shady day on Saturday, but I think he will come through for us this Saturday. If not, you'll Christian Albarracian at the placekicker. Our punting job is still open with Justin Sparks, Bryan Powers, and Rob Park. We'll go through that this week and see who is the best guy there. Obviously Rob has the experience, and that may win out in the long run.

Looking at Memphis, offensively they've done a very good job, especially last year against us. They ran the ball. Their offensive line used a lot of cut blocks. They had a lot of schemes to spread us out. I thought they really gameplanned against our defense well. We've got our work cut out for us. We have to be ready for what I think is a pretty good offense. They have Hankins at quarterback, Doss at running back, and a young man that is really exciting on film and that's Duke Calhoun. He's an excellent receiver. We recruited Duke, and we know all about him. They have some tall receivers where, especially inside the 20s, they can throw some fades. We have our work cut out for us. On defense they have a new defensive coordinator. He was at South Florida. We've studied a lot of South Florida film. We don't know exactly what they'll do, but I think we're going to be ready. They've played us good the last two years. We've won the game. It's been a tight battle, and expect another tight battle. I want to challenge all our fans to fill up that Liberty Bowl. We're looking forward to kicking off the season. It's going to be a busy month of September. My job is to have this team ready and keep them healthy. We're looking forward to it.

Q: Is there much difference in the former defense they use and the new style?

O: There's a little difference, a little difference in the way they play, but not that much though.

Q: With Memphis and Missouir up, have you worked on spread offenses over the summer?

O: Yes we have. We've practiced a lot on Missouri plays. They're very similar. Memphis doesn't run as much option as Missouri but they spread you out. So we practiced it a bunch. They're similar in a lot of ways.

Q: You said you would see if Tony (Fein) can handle weak linebacker. What will you be looking for there?

O: Just adjustments, being able to get in the right place. They spread you out. If you get in the wrong gap, it's out the door. He's got to cover the tight end sometime. If he's able to handle all the adjustments he has to make. Our MIKE linebacker a lot drops to the middle in our coverages. So we need some speed there.

Q: Where did you say Chris (Strong) might play?

O: I would think we'll use him both places. I think you would see him inside the tackles. Peria Jerry is not completely healthy. If he doesn't, Chris Strong will take his place. He weights 282 pounds. He's fast.

Q: How is Jerrell's conditioning coming along?

O: Better. He's going through all practices now. Obviously it's a lot better but it's nowhere near what it needs to be.

Q: Between Terrell Jackson and Cassius Vaughn. What put Terrell over the top?

O: Consistency. Knowing how to play the deep ball. Being in the right spot. Tackling. Athletic ability. Cassius is still young. He'll play. He has some maturing to do.

Q: What are you looking for from Seth (Adams) in this first game?

O: Move the ball down the field with our style of offense. Complete the short ball. Make some good decisions at the line of scrimmage. Just be steady back there.

Q: How has he dealt with all the scrutiny that has gone into that decision, and the expectations on him.

O: I think he's been fine. I was worried in the open scrimmage when he went 0-for-6. I think he was a little nervous there. We might see that Saturday. I'm not sure. I'm not sure how he's going to react. I know he has game-type experience. But we'll be patient with him and do some things that are fairly simple that we think he can handle.

Q: How have the four coaches – Thompson, who you've already mentioned, Freeze, Hughes, and Corrao - at new positions handled the transition?

O: Dave (Corrao) is a very bright young coach. He's very vaulable in a room. He's a guy who is a computer report guy. He knows the offense in and out. He has a great memory. He knows exactly where our guys are lined up at al positions. He can coach our defense. He's excellent and has an outstanding work ethic, aloing with Brad Villavaso. Brad is a graduate assistant who was a high school coach who played linebacker. He knows the fundamentals and the style we need to teach our linebackers. Tony Hughes is a great recruiter who is doing a fantastic job coaching the tight ends. Hugh Freeze is coaching the wide receivers. He's at home there. He helps Dan with the passing game. So I think we have a great mix.

Q: Talk more about Michael Oher's improvement.

O: First of all conditioning. Second, maturity, want to, and desire. He exhibits that every day. He goes hard. He has not taken one play off the whole camp. That ‘s a tribute to his conditioning and his work ethic. His pass protection is excellent. He's always been a good run blocker. He studies the game. I attribute all that to hard work and also to Art Kehoe. He's done a tremendous job with him.

Q: How has Dexter McCluster done this camp physically.

O: He took a big hit from Ashlee that day (in the scrimmage), so I think he's ready to go. I'm always a little nervous about Dexter. He goes 100 miles an hour all over the field. So he's going to get hit. I think he's ready.

Q: In what ways will Dexter really help the offense this year?

O: We need to move him around and get him the ball as many times as we can You'll see him in a lot of different spots make big plays. You'll also see him help us on special teams. He gives us some speed on our team.

Q: How important is the Memphis game for recruiting in that area?

O: Very important. Memphis is a big area for us recruiting. Coach Freeze has done a great job for us there. A lot of our guys are from Memphis. They're excited to go there. There's a couple of players on the Memphis team that we tried to recruit that decided to go to Memphis. There's a little competition there. It's always nice to go play in Memphis. Probably a lot of recruits will be there seeing the Ole Miss Rebels. I think it wio be fun.

Q: How important is getting off to a good start this season?

O: Very important. The month of September is very important to our team. The last two years we won our first game and didn't play well the next couple of games. We've identified some things that may be problems. Hopefully we've stamped those things out. We'll see. Memphis is going to be a tough opponent. So is Missouri.

Q: You mentioned Johnny Brown, Jerrell Powe, and Chris Strong as true freshmen who have played on the defensive side. Are there any offensive true freshmen who might play?

O: Lionel Breaux might play a little bit. I think he will be the only one.

Q: What has Seth done to earn the starting QB spot?

O: He's been very consistent over camp. We trust Seth. He's demonstrated day in and day out that he's there. He can make some checks at the line that we need. He can run the offense. He doesn't have the strongest arm but he's the most consistent.

Q: How much did you think about going with a younger QB in Michael Herrick over a senior in Seth Adams who would be with your program for a while longer?

O: We just play the best guy to help us win games. Michael Herrick mad a big push toward the end. Last Saturday he kinda dwindled off toward the end. That showed us he wasn't quite ready just yet. That doesn't mean he won't play this year. He gained 20-something pounds. He's a very smart quarterback and could be a quarterback here that could have a lot of success.

Q: Any chance to see Brent Schaeffer at receiver with Seth playing QB?

O: Not yet. He's only practiced at quarterback since he moved from receiver back to quarterback. Unless we throw a little trick play.

Q: Talk about your plans for Greg Hardy offensively.

O: You'll see him all over the field. You will see him on first, second, third downs. You may see him the first series, you may not. It all depends on what's happening and who goes on the field first. He is going to play offense and maybe 50 percent of the time.

Q: Psychologically, what if Jerrell Powe is or is not eligible to play. How will that affect the team?

O: It will be a big boost (if he can play). Everybody is kind of assuming he will be eligible. That's been the feeling of the team. He's been around them so much they've accepted that he's here. We know the ruling has not come down yet. But we have to think positively. The glass is half full and we're moving forward. It would be a little letdown if he was not eligible, but we'll have to deal with that as it comes.

Q: Who is the next option after Tony (Fein) at that position?

O: We have Jamie Phillips who has done a very good job for us. Brandon (Thomas). Those two guys know their assignments.

Q: How are Ted Laurent and Rishaw Johnson holding up?

O: As best they can. We wish they were with us. They're going to school. We see them sparingly. They look rested. That's about it. We just encourage them. Hopefully something comes up soon with those guys. We need them.

Q: Marshay Green and Dexter McCluster are your returners. Anybody else?

O: Mike Wallace. Linel Breaux. But we'll go with our experienced guys. We are strong in that area.

Q: Do you feel as good about Ted and Rishaw's situations as you do Jerrell's?

O: I do. They've done all the work. It should be a no-bnrainer.

Q: You lost two linebackers last year who made a ton of tackles. Who will make those this season?

O: The defensive front. I think we're a lot better there. Those guys will have to pick up the slack.

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