Obviously we're looking forward to our open date. The guys had the day off yesterday. We're going to review the Northwestern State film today and treat it as a Monday. We'll have a light practice today. We'll practice tomorrow. The blackshirts are going to scrimmage. The guys will go to school on Thursday and Friday and have the weekend off to go see their parents. We'll start back Monday against LSU. Coaches are watching film on LSU now, preparing a gameplan. We'll be out recruiting Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We have four evaluation dates left, and we're very well prepared and excited to go out on the road recruiting. After reviewing the Northwestern State film, obviously we're disappointed in the 31 points that we gave up, especially in our coverage. We got beat in man coverage. We didn't get enough pressure on the quarterback and didn't play with the intensity we needed to play with. Other than that, any questions?
Q: Have you started any work on LSU?
O: Sure. We've watched their first down passes, their first down runs. We're going to simulate a lot of their stuff today in practice. We're excited it's a CBS national TV game. We'll just use this open date to fix the things we have to fix and sprinkle in some LSU stuff.
Q: Can you tell us about some of your needs as you go out recruiting?
O: Speed, especially on defense. Patrick and Rory averaged 20 tackles last year, and we don't have that on defense right now. We need to find some outside linebackers. We would like to find more defensive backs so we can get into a five defensive backs package against spread offenses that we're not able to do right now. We need some help at corner. We need a shutdown corner for sure. We're losing two tight ends to graduation, so we need to find a fantastic tight end. We're obviously losing big running backs. We've got Jeremy McGee, Cordera, and Derrick. But we'd like to find a big junior college running back. Some offensive linemen and defensive linemen. A guy that can kick the ball off. One thing I didn't mention is that we're really pleased with Justin Sparks. He did a good job and maybe he can be the guy. We'll see the next couple of games.
Q: Talk more about the blackshirt scrimmage.
O: We'll split the teams up. Brad Villavaso is going to be the head coach for the defense. Joel Rodriguez is going to be the head coach of the offense. The guys get into it. We have a little trophy and stuff. We'll have MVPs. It will be offense versus defense. It will be an enthusiastic practice tomorrow. The guys look forward to it every year. It's kind of a college tradition all the way across the country. We'll have fun with it. But it also gives our guys a chance to perform very well under game type situations. And it also gives me a good look at our team right before I go out to recruit. I like to do that to see where the needs are we need to fill.
Q: Do you like having an open date now?
O: I think this is much needed. Our guys reported somewhere around August 1st. They have not had a weekend off. They have not had a day off. I think they need it. I think it will be good for them. I think it will be good for the coaches. I like using this week to self-scout ourselves. We'll self-scout ourselves on offense, defense, and special teams. We'll look at where our deficiencies are and see what we need to fix. I think it's good, especially this time of year.
Q: When you develop a recruiting plan, how do you balance junior college and high school prospects?
O: We're not at a point where we're going to bring in a whole lot of junior college players. You bring in a junior college player, you want him to play for you right away. If he doesn't have that ability or talent, you'd like to get a high school guy. The key is getting guys with the grades who can get in. They need to meet our academic standards. You're not always going to be perfect on everyone. So there has to be a little leeway in what you do. We definitely have some needs that we feel some junior college guys could really help us.
Q: In the past have any blackshirt scrimmage guys stood out and maybe helped out later?
O: BenJarvus. He's always looked good in everything he's done. Last year's MVP was Carlos Suggs who is not with us. But he had a good day. I'm expecting some guys to really get after it. I think our guys are going to hit. We'll have some good running backs out there. We'll have some good receivers out there. We're going to play some of the younger guys.
Q: Cordera said during his recruitment that you expressed to him he would play as a freshman. Did that change and when?
O: I think he's really going to be a fantastic back for us. I've seen him do a lot of things. It's just that Bruce Hall came into the picture and I had planned for Cordera and BenJarvus to be the backs. Bruce Hall just sort of beat him out. That's all. Bruce does a lot of good things. I think Bruce will be an NFL back. He's a good player. It's just hard to share the reps with all those guys back there.
Q: Are you surprised how good Bruce has become since movning him from quarterback?
O: We recruited him as an athlete. At the time when we recruited Bruce Hall, we didn't have a quarterback on campus. My recruiters went to the Mississippi Junior College All-Star Game, and he was the best guy. We thought maybe he could help us at quarterback. If he couldn't he could play somewhere else. He's certainly turned out to be a good player for us.
Q: How do you like Cordera's development?
O: I think it's been fantastic. Again, like I said, if it was my choice I would have given him the ball 20 times against Northwestern State. But we had to put BenJarvus back in. As I said after the game, I think I took BenJarvus out too early and we could have built up a better lead. I had no idea the game was going to turn out the way it did.
Q: Will Greg Hardy play against LSU?
O: Maybe. Could be. I'll review his situation. I gave him certain things to follow. I've been tracking it closely, and so far he's been perfect. I've talked to him and his parents, and things are going very well. I look to review his case again this weekend and we'll see what happens. He's away from the team. He's followed all the restrictions that I gave him. He's not around here, and he's had some time off to think about what's going on. He's definitely going to every class and every tutoring session. I've had nothing but great reports on him.
Q: What did you ask of Greg?
O: Everything that he's supposed to do. Be on time for meetings. Be at every practice. Just do everything the team's supposed to do and not miss anything. I wouldn't expect anybody here on my football team to be perfect. But I expect them to adhere to team rules and follow them as close as they can. Sometimes we have to make exceptions to the rules because of school or injuries. There is some leeway in those situations. But once things get out of hand we have to address them.
Q: Any changes in the quarterback situation?
O: We'll deal with it a little bit this week. Seth's still our starting quarterback. If he doesn't make the progress we want him to, we'll put in Brent. But right now he's still the starting quarterback.
Q: Is this a time for your team to heal in a lot of ways?
O: I think we've got some guys nicked and bruised. Reid Neely has been playing on a banged-up ankle all year. You've got some guys that need some time to heal. I also think the time away is good. It's very demanding physically and mentally to play in the SEC and to prepare. Guys get time away to do some things that they like, like visit their parents. Go out and eat supper, go to a movie, go to school and catch up on some school work. I remember last year when they came back, they were ready to practice. And we played very well. I expect them to do the same thing. I want them to have some time away, that they miss football, and that they come back ready.
Coach O Tuesday -
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