Coach O's Monday press conference

The following is Coach Ed Orgeron's Monday press conference on Sept. 24, 2007.

Orgeron: Obviously we looked at the Florida tape, graded it. Really pleased with the play of our quarterback. Seth did a lot of good things. Really pleased with the deep ball and some of the decisions he's making. Mike Wallace is probably the most improved player on our team. Michael Hicks, Shay Hodge, those guys, I was really pleased with the play of our wide receivers. Thought it was going to be a weakness going into the season on offense, and it's turned out to be a strength. So really pleased with that. Defensively we held them in some key situations. Again I was not pleased with our tackling. We're giving up too many yards rushing. I thought John (Thompson) called a good game against a very powerful offense. We still need some improvement obviously on our kickoff team. We'll make some adjustments there. Moving on, it's a Monday for us. We'll deal with Florida like the rest of our teams and then move on to Georgia. We were close against Georgia last year. We made some good plays. But it looks like they're a much better football team this year. Watching them on TV Saturday night (against Alabama), the speed of the game was a little bit different than what we saw last year. Looks like Matthew Stafford is throwing the ball better. I'm impressed with their running back Marino. He runs hard. We'll have our work cut out for us. On defense they're similar to what we've been seeing, and they're very, very tough.

Q: Talk about Mike Wallace's improvement.

O: I think it's confidence. He went out there and made a couple of plays. Mike has always been able to make plays and catch the ball. He's always been fast and he's gotten bigger and stronger. He clearly outran their defenders. Now he has some confidence.

Q: Talk about the improvement the team made from Saturday to Saturday.

O: A lot better. We still made some mistakes. The coaches simplified some things and we went back to fundamental work.

Q: Was last Saturday the first time Seth has been able to give you that vertical dimension to make your offense more multi-dimensional?

O: We threw a couple of deep balls against Vanderbilt and had some success. That gave us some confidence. Everybody's packing the box on BenJarvus, so we're using a couple of plays to get our guys deep, and Seth is doing a good job of it.

Q: Talk more about the improvement of the receivers.

O: Our wide receivers coach, Coach Freeze, is doing a good job for us. He's an excellent coach with a lot of experience. He gives them a lot of confidence. Most of them are more experienced this year.

Q: Is your team more dangerous when your offense is more balanced?

O: Yes, no doubt. Anytime we can run the ball, anytime BenJarvus can get a hundred yards rushing, we can have some success. Bruce Hall looked very good in the game. We need to play him more. Yes, the more balanced we are, the more success we'll have, no doubt.

Q: Do you feel better about your linebackers?

O: We played OK. Sometimes we just got bowled over and got outphysicaled. A lot of times we had Tebow wrapped up, and he just ran us over. We need to get bigger, more physical guys. Chris is not ready yet. He's too heavy. He made a couple of plays. Tony is inexperience and made a couple of good plays. You can just see our inexperience out there. I watched the film from last year with Rory and Patrick. It's just a different type of football p-layer out there right now. We're just not at that stage.

Q: Georgia's offense seems to be more physical this year.

O: Their back (Knowshon) Mareno is a hard-running, powerful back. He gives excellent effort. They have good schemes up front. Their fullback is an excellent blocker. (Mareno) will make you miss. He has excellent balance. He looks like he has great lower leg strength. He will be one of the better backs we'll see this year.

Q: Talk about your defense and where it is right now, and how do you achieve more consistency week to week?

O: You have to have players that have played the position for a while. Our linebackers are learning on the run. Cassius Vaughn is learning on the run. This is all new for him. On defense we're very inexperienced. A guy like Greg Hardy, he makes tackles. Peria Jerry rarely misses tackles. Guys out there for the first time are missing plays and missing tackles. That comes from game experience. We're very inexperienced in the back seven.

Q: Your defense is doing a better job deep.

O: The biggest difference in the Florida game and the Missouri game was we didn't give up the deep ball. That is the basis of our defense. That's one of the main things, we didn't get beat.

Q: Is chemistry one of the reasons for the improved wide receiver play?

O: I think there's chemistry there. There's the protection by the offensive line. We had two sacks and we're disappointed with that. But there was some time for Seth, and he's a smart player. The receivers believe in him. He's going to do it almost exactly like he is coached to do it. He's going to understand his reads. Those are some things you're seeing this year.

Q: Talk about Michael Hicks.

O: He's kinda in between – a big wide receiver and a little tight end. We're using him better this year, and he's improved on his catching ability. Last year he missed a couple of balls right in his hands. More confidence and more times being on the field.

Q: You talked about last year's game. You could have won it. Does that give your team confidence this year?

O: We have confidence in the way we played last week. We're getting better. This is a new (Georgia) team). I need to be really careful. We were playing Georgia at home. They're a much improved team (this year). We won't take them by surprise. Last year we may have taken them a little by surprise. Our team will have some confidence going into the game. We have a lot of respect for Georgia and playing them at (their) home.

Q: You and the players talked about the emotion of last Friday night getting ready for Florida. How important is emotion in playing the game?

O: It always is, especially when you're not living up to your potential. You need to dig into that aspect of the game. But you can't go to that every week. What we have to do is stoke the fire and keep it burning. That was a different (Ole Miss) team last Saturday. Keep the fire burning, stoke it, keep challenging they guys and keep building.

Q: Talk about Dustin Mouxon.

O: Really, really consistent. Becoming a leader on our football team. I felt Coach Rippon came up with a couple of different wrinkles on how to defend their option. You saw Dustin make those plays in the backfield. Give Coach Rippon credit. He came up with it and I thought it was an excellent scheme.

Q: Talk about Jamie Phillips.

O: He walked on here in the spring. We didn't anticipate losing Rory. My first year we signed a lot of linebackers, and not many of them are here. Because of that and losing Rory and plus he was here in the spring and that helped. You can't learn our defense in two weeks. It's too hard.

Q: Your team played well on the road in the SEC last year. Now it's on to Georgia. Is there something about big SEC road games that make a difference in your program?

O: Just looking at it, I get more excited to play Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and LSU, and I guess they do too. I guess that comes from the head coach. I love playing in those games, and our guys do too. Hopefully that continues on. We don't need to only be excited. We need to win. We need to go play well on the road in Georgia. I know it will be a hostile environment. We haven't won a road game in the SEC since I've been here. We've been close. We'll go after and we need to find ways to dig in and win it. I'm not so concerned about working on Georgia right now as to continue to build my team, build my team, confidence, character, fundamentals, getting ready to play and let ‘em play.

Q: How frustrating is the kickoff team situation?

O: Disappointing, it really is disappointing. We try new things and try and try again. In my career we've never practiced kickoffs on Mondays. Last Monday we practiced it three times. So we're doing things but still not doing them right.

Q: What about Cornell and McCluster?

O: Cornell is not going to play. I think it's going to be a ways away. Dexter is going to the doctor again today. He wants to play. I don't know what's going to happen there.

Q: Talk about the punt returns.

O: The games have been to where we need to block a punt. We felt we were close two or three times. We're focusing on blocking punts. We've had a couple of returns. We felt we could block a punt and change the game, so that's what we've been focusing on.

Q: Talk about Brent Schaeffer and how he's handling things.

O: He's fine. He's a senior. We played Florida. It's an emotional game for him. He wanted to win. Really he's been about as good as we can expect. I think you've seen a changed Brent Schaeffer, a team guy, doing the things he needs to do. We're proud of that. I expect him to continue that.

Q: If your team ever wins that first "big" game, do you think the team will really break out?

O: I think it will give us some confidence, and hopefully it spills over. We'll just keep on pounding the rock. It's going to break. We can't keep swinging the sledgehammer though, That's our motto this year, just keep on pounding the rock.

OM Spirit Top Stories