Tuesday press conference

The following is Coach Ed Orgeron's early-week press conference as the Ole Miss Rebels prepare for the Missouri Tigers.

O: I reviewed the Memphis game with some of you yesterday, but I'll go over it again briefly. First of all we're pleased with the win. I thought defensively we made a lot of improvement, especially pressuring the quarterback. He had six turnovers, four picks. More than we had at anytime last year. I was really impressed with the way John Thompson called the game. Our guys played with energy and enthusiasm. Obviously we need to improve in our second-half play. We had some missed tackles, some missed assignments. We didn't do well on their quick game, especially at the end of the game when they started to run the ball more. Those are some of the improvements we want to make defensively. Offensively I thought Seth had a good handle on the passing game. He was 19 of 30 and was really pleased with his performance. I was really disappointed with the play of our receivers, especially the dropped balls and the fumbles. Those were critical in the ballgame where we could have had a bigger lead early. We want to improve in our running game. We went back and looked at what we did wrong. We're working on it. All the mistakes we made were correctable, no doubt. Special teams, I was real excited about our score team (punt block for a TD). I thought that was a big play in the ballgame. First time they really drop back and punt we get one, scoop and score. We need to improve on our kickoff coverage. We need to find a kickoff guy. It may be Christian. It may be Josh. But we'll have to find out this week. Going back to the 30-yard line has changed the game. We need to practice on different types of kicks. We need to be able to field those kicks. Field goal and PATs, I was very disappointed in Josh's performance. We'll work very hard on that this week and I think it can be fixed. We'll work on our punting game getting the ball inside the 10. We're awfully excited to play Missouri. They handled us last year. We weren't very well prepared against them. We'll know what to expect this year. Chase Daniel is a very good quarterback. They have a very good scheme. They have a very good running back in Tony Temple, over 1,000 yards rushing last year. They spread you out, a lot of quick passes. We feel we have a good plan and we'll be ready for them. Defensively last year they played very good against us. They're very strong in the middle and they're very strong at the cornerback position. They also have a very good punt return game. We're fairly healthy. We had a spirited practice yesterday with a day off from school. We're looking forward to a great Tuesday practice today.

Q: How is Missouri's spread offense like the one you saw from Memphis?

O: Very similar. I believe Memphis used some of Missouri's plays against us last year. They used the tight end but he's not in the tight end position a lot. They used different personel groupings with the same sets. The guy has a quick release. They have big splits. They're always in a two-point stance. They run the option which means you have to defend the option.

Q: How do you prepare for Chase?

O: We'll change some things that we do. There's no doubt about that. Last year we had a very young defensive line. We went into the Memphis game (last year) and we tried to do some things to simplify. But you have to change it up, who has the option, who has the quarterback, who has the dive. You can't stay the same defense every down against this guy.

Q: With the big expectations surrounding Missouri this season, what would a win Saturday mean for your program?

O: This would be a critical win for our team. I do believe we're up for the challenge. To go 2-0 would be the first time to go 2-0 since I've been the head coach. Just to beat a good Missouri. We have ‘em at home. I think we have some advantages. We know it's going to be a tough game, but we're ready.

Q: Do you believe that after your team got a big lead (23-0 in the third quarter) Saturday that it might have breathed a little to early?

O: No. Not at all. We went back and looked at the tape. No way. No way. I think they did a couple of things scheme-wise that hurt us. We blitzed a lot in the first half. But they started throwing so many screens at us in the second half that we pulled back a little bit, and it hurt us. When we did blitz on the last touchdown, they hit us on a screen. I don't think it had anything to do with inexperience. I think a couple of guys were hurt and they spread us out and did a good job of moving the ball. Our offense had a lot of chances to put them away, and we never put them away. You have to do that. You keep letting them come back, eventually they'll come back.

Q: Missouri won the line of scrimmage on both sides last year. Is your team better equipped in that area this year?

O: There's no doubt. We have better talent along the offensive and defensive lines. I was really pleased with the play of our ends against Memphis. I thought Marcus Tillman and Greg Hardy had some real good games. With Peria healthy inside and Jeremy Garret inside, we're a lot better than we were last year. The offensive line is no doubt a lot better.

Q: Talk more about Greg Hardy's play.

O: I'd like to see it every week. No doubt about that. He had like eight tackles and a couple of sacks. On Dustin Mouzon's interception he was all over the quarterback's legs. He played on offense and did a very good job. He was open on (another) one. We missed him. He could have had two touchdowns. He was all over the field and did a fantastic job for us. That's what we expect out of Greg, and we'll use him as much as we can.

Q: Is stopping the spread more difficult to defense than many other offenses you might face?

O: There are some things John brought to us we understand and are able to do. You have to put as much speed on the field as possible sometimes without letting them run right down your throat. So I think it's a combination of stopping the run, stopping the short passing game, and also protecting against the deep ball.

Q: What's your assessment of Chris Strong's play Saturday?

O: It was pretty good. That was a tough game for a freshman. He's a little heavy right now. He played pretty good. He missed some tackles. He got winded at the end. He made a couple of mistakes on a sign or a call, but overall I thought he did pretty good.

Q: It looked like Ashlee Palmer made a jump forward as the game moved on.

O: I think it is the advantage of him coming in here in the spring. He's understanding the defense. He's a wide receiver/safety. Give credit to Aaron Ausmus. He's bigger, stronger, faster. Very physical. He understands schemes.

Q: You mentioned during camp you were concerned about the other corner. Talk about that.

O: Terrell played well. He did really well. I thought he had a good game. John and Chris had both been working with Terrell. He played in a nickel package where he played nickel, he played corner. He played pretty well.

Q: Does a scrambling quarterback change the way you put pressure on him?

O: You always have to put pressure on any quarterback. But you have to pick and choose your times.

Q: How did you like the way Robert Lane was used on Saturday?

O: Very pleased. I think we threw the ball to the tight end more than at any time since I've been here. He missed a couple of balls. A couple of balls were very hard to catch. The thing I like about Robert is when he catches the ball, he turns it up the field and makes positive yards. He always gives our team a boost. He's a positive guy. We need to get the ball in his hands. He's one of our better players.

Q: Missouri uses their tight ends a lot. How does that present a challenge for your defense?

O: Well, they're all spread out. It's not like a typical tight end. They use them as wide receivers. They're big and tall and they give you mismatches. They're very good catchers, their leading receivers, very good players and they've been around a while.

Q: Did you get what you expected from Seth?

O: I saw that some in practice. That was one of his better times. I saw some practices where he was not so good. Going into the game, I had a lot of confidence that he was playing well. He's that type of guy. Going into the game, he gives you that look that he's prepared. He gave me a lot of confidence. I talked to him before the game, told him what I expected. He did exactly what we expected of him. I thought he did very well.

Q: Talk about Dustin Mouzon's performance.

O: Outstanding. He's a young man who has worked very hard ever since I've been here. He had a couple of injuries last year. Now he's like our featured corner. He had a punt block, an interception return. On that return, Jamarca Sanford threw an outstanding block around the six-yard line or he'd never have made it 99 yards. I thought (Dustin) played very well and was very consistent. He had shown consistency in camp. When you put pressure on the quarterback, he's going to make some bad decisions. I have to credit Chris Rippon. He worked hard on that put block. He had been working on it almost a year now and it came through.


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