Coach O Monday press conference

The following is Coach Ed Orgeron's press conference Monday, Sept. 10, as the team begins preparations for a road game at Vanderbilt Saturday at 6 p.m.

Orgeron: After looking at the film, I was really, really impressed with the play of the play of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and the blocking of the offensive line. It was much improved over the first week. Seth Adams – I was really impressed with the way he handled the ballgame, especially the second half. I thought the wide receivers played one of their best games. Disappointed in the offense early and it took us a while to get going. I thought Dan (Werner) did a good job of adjusting, especially in the second half. On defense basically we played poor for most of the game. We had missed tackles. We gave up big plays. We got beat on the corner a bunch. We had some missed assignments. I was really disappointed in the overall production of our defense. Special teams, we need to do better in the kicking game. We need to put better players out there. We need to make some improvement this week on the special teams. Our punt team did an outstanding job on the coverage. They had an outstanding return, but I thought Coach (Hugh) Freeze did a good job getting our guys ready. On Vanderbilt, obviously we're excited. It's our first SEC opponent and it's on the road. They return 16 starters, nine on offense and seven on defense. They're a well-coached football team. We've gone against Coach (Bobby) Johnson the last two years. Their guys will be in the right place. He always has a good gameplan. We're looking forward to going up there. On offense, Chris Nickson and Mackenzie Adams both have played quarterback. We've played against both these guys. The key to their offense is wide receiver Earl Bennett. He has17 receptions for 275 yards and three touchdowns. He's an excellent football player. They have five returning starters on the offensive line, so they're an experienced group. They run the option, spread you out, and make you play disciplined football. On defense their best player is DE Curtis Gatewood. He had seven sacks. He's a very good player. They have an experienced defense. They play a similar defense to the style that we play. We're excited about it. We're fairly healthy. We'll make some corrections on defense, and hopefully we'll play like we did in the second half (against Missouri). I thought our team really came to life in the second half.

Q: Talk about Vandy having two QBs who might play.

O: We'll prepare for both. We played both last year. We've seen them. They'll run their offense. They're different styles but the plays remain the same.

Q: Were you disappointed in the tackling by your team?

O: We have to work on that. Good athletes are going to make tackles. We have good players, so we're going to have to work on that fullspeed in practice.

Q: How do you coach them to play four quarters?

O: Eventually we'll get there. We need to click on all cylinders – offense, defense, and special teams. Sometimes it just takes a while, but eventually we're going to get there.

Q: What was the difference in the run game production?

O: Better blocking. Better schemes. A lot more confidence in our offensive line. The play up front. BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Good play calling. The passing game helped. A combination of all those things. I was really impressed with the play of Seth Adams. He gave us one of his best shots.

Q: Will we see more running backs or just more BenJarvus?

O: Bruce (Hall) is injured. It depends on how he comes along. He's our next best back. We like Cordera (Eason). He has to prove it in a game. Our games are so close that it's hard to give a guy to prove himself.

Q: Are you looking at any defensive personnel changes?

O: Not really. Just keep on playing our stuff and getting better. In the rotation at cornerback, we're very thin there. We don't have a lot of choices. You may see Cassius Vaughn move up the depth chart. It all depends on how he plays this week.

Q: Do you know which freshmen might redshirt yet?

O: No, not yet. Throughout the season you never can tell what might happen. Obviously we don't want to burn a redshirt year for a couple of plays. We're still looking at some freshmen on special teams and in some backup situations.

Q: Talk more about Seth's performance.

O: He's come along. Seth has a little confidence about himself right now. His protection was good. He's gaining confidence in his receivers. He went to his third choice about two or three times during the game. We knew from the outset he had those qualities. You always want the threat of the deep ball.

Q: How important is this game with Vanderbilt?

O: Last week was the same thing. Every week, with where my team is right now, is an important week. We cannot make one week more important than any other. Today is a critical day to watch the Missouri game. Monday is about the truth. We talk about the truth to our team, what we did right and what we did wrong. Correct the mistakes (from the Missouri game) and then put it in the garbage can and move forward. Every week is a grind. Every week is a challenge.

Q: Talk about Shay Hodge.

O: A young man that knows how to handle adversity. He's shown maturity. He's really a good athlete. When he had his injury this summer, we wanted him to be ready for the Memphis game. He showed some maturity and mental toughness.

Q: Jonathan Cornell?

O: I don't think he will play this week.

Q: Talk about the linebackers.

O: We're thin there. We have to recruit a lot of safeties and linebackers with speed. We need faster linebackers on our team. So we're looking to move a couple of people around today and see where they fit in. We'll try a couple of new linebackers out today.

Q: If having played two spread offense the first two games help against Vandy's offense?

O: It's similar but a little different. They have more quarterback runs and lead draws and powers and zone game. Their option game is more of a speed option game. There are a lot of similarities and there are a lot of differences.

Q: Expound on what you talked about as far as recruiting philosophy that you mentioned Saturday night after seeing a spread offense for two games.

O: We won't change our recruiting philosophy. We'll continue to recruit the way I know how to recruit. But we have to find more skill guys and bring them into our program, more cornerbacks, more safeties/outside linebacker-type guys and more receivers. We don't have enough receivers now to go to a five-wide set. My focus has been the offensive and defensive line. We will continue to recruit that way. But we need faster guys so we can play three defensive linemen and eight defensive backs, or three linebackers and five defensive backs.

Q: Todd Cox?

O: Todd's left the team. He asked for a release to Memphis, and as far as I know he may be going to Memphis. But I gave him one (a release).

Q: Talk about Mike Wallace.

O: I thought it was his best game. That's what we've been looking for from Mike. He has the ability to go deep. He dropped some balls against Memphis. Coach Freeze did an excellent job with him. We're pleased with him. He's fast and hgas shown ability to be a playmaker.

Q: Dexter McCluster?

O: I think it's going to be a week maybe. I'm not sure. We really have to be careful with him. Hopefully once he comes back he will be able to perform. We miss him out there.

Q: Special teams?

O: Very below average. I was disappointed. The field goal team we had everybody back. The kickoff from the 30 has something to do with (kickoff deficiencies). Our kickoff return team hasn't done anything yet. They were very good last year. We have to keep improving and trying different personnel and maybe change up a scheme or two. I am pleased with the punt coverage and the punt block team.

Q: Talk about Jamarca Sanford.

O: I don't know how you could ask for anything else. I know he was disappointed he missed a couple of tackles, which was unusual. He gives us every ounce of energy he has both on and off the field.

Q: Would you consider redshirting Dexter McCluster?

O: Not unless we absolutely have to. We need him. We need Dexter.

Q: Talk about not having Jonathan Cornell out there.

O: We're thin at linebacker, especially experience. Ashlee (Palmer) played well. He made some mistakes, some critical errors on the option and missed a couple of tackles. But again played well. We had some big guys in the middle but we need some speed at linebacker. Patrick (Willis) was a big middle linebacker. He and Rory (Johnson) had a fantastic game against Vanderbilt last year. We're missing those two guys.

Q: Jason Cook?

O: Very unselfish player. Good blocker. We're really proud of him. He's a good fullback.

Q: Any chance of moving Jamarca Sanford to LB?

O: I think Jamarca would be our best linebacker. I really do. We want to move him but Jamarca really, really wants to play safety. He's so important to our team and our chemistry that we'll keep him at safety. But we're going to play a lot of defenses with our safeties at linebacker. That way we have the best of both worlds.

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