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August 29, 2005

Orgeron Press Conference Transcript

OPENING COMMENTS

We are excited for it to be game week. Obviously this is our first game together. We are pumped up and pleased with the way camp went. Our guys competed. We had a very tough camp. As we have a saying here, `The cream rose to the top' at most positions.

I would also like to add that our thoughts and prayers are with the families of any of our football players and other athletic department personnel from the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in the path of the Hurricane. We hope that they are safe. They are very important to us, and we hope that everything goes well for them.

We are very excited going into the season opener against Memphis for our football team and the Ole Miss family. The most important thing for us to do is establish who we are and the type of program we are bringing to Ole Miss.

During camp I was really pleased with the development of the offense under coach (Noel) Mazzone. Our running back position has been improving a lot lately with Jamal Pittman, Brandon Jacobs and [db]Mico McSwain[/db]. We have let Alan Abrams back on the football team under circumstances, which I believe he will follow.

Our offensive line has progressed well. George DeLeone has done a fine job of working with the offensive line. That was a question mark going into camp. Hopefully this week, we'll get David Traxler back, which will help us out.

The wide receiver position is very strong. They have come into their own. Matt Lubick has done a great job of coaching them. We have three tight ends that are able to play, and I feel good about that.

As far as the quarterback position, we thought that we would be naming a starter today. Due to the competition level of [db]Robert Lane, who has come on very strong, especially in the last scrimmage, we are going to keep it open until right before the game. We will go into the game with one starting quarterback. We feel as a staff, that both quarterbacks could play for us. In the event one guy is not doing the job, we feel comfortable putting the other guy in.

Defensively, we have three seniors returning up front. Michael Bozeman had an excellent camp. We named Michael one of the team captains. He is an excellent young man. He is very representative of our defense, tough and strong in the middle. On offense we named Tre' Stallings as a permanent team captain. I wanted to name two linemen, because we have to be physical and strong on the offensive and defensive lines. Those two guys represent our program well. McKinley Boykin is coming along. He has not progressed at the speed with which I was hoping. His knee injury is not 100 percent, so we put Jeremy Garrett, who has had an excellent camp, behind him. He will be in the rotation. Jayme Mitchell has come along at defensive end. LaMark Armour will back him up. Corvelli Haynes has earned a starting spot at the `Leo' position. He has become an excellent pass rusher. Chris Bowers is going to back Haynes up. We are going to be strong on the line.

At the linebacker position, we are excited about Patrick Willis and the rest of the linebackers we have. We have built some depth there with our young guys. A guy who has come along who you may see play this year, is LeRon King. We moved him from defensive end to linebacker.

In the secondary, Nate Banks had an excellent camp. With Travis Johnson, Trumaine McBride, Charles Clark and Jamarca Sanford, we are going to be strong there.

In the kicking game, Will Moseley has shown that he can perform all three duties. He's not going to perform all three duties. Matt Hinkle will perform some of the kicking. I am really pleased with the system that Chris Rippon has put in. He's an excellent special teams coach. We have our best players at the best spots available, and we are looking for exciting things on special teams.

Looking at Memphis, they return 10 starters on their defense with Joe Lee Dunn. They can present a lot of problems with their blitzes. They are very effective with their blitzes, so we need to be able to protect our quarterback and run the football. On offense it starts with DeAngelo Williams, who is an excellent player. He is one of the best we will face all year. He's an all-purpose back, who in addition to running the football for 1,948 yards last year, caught a lot of passes in the backfield and some reverses, which creates a lot of mismatches. He is a very good football player. Maurice Avery, their leading receiver coming back is a good player as well as a good blocker. We don't know a lot about the quarterback (Patrick Byrne) since he was a kicker last year. We still expect him to be ready. They have four new offensive linemen. Tommy West has done a great job with the Memphis program, and we are looking forward to the game on Sept. 5.

Q: You said the offensive line is progressing, but there have been a number of injuries. Is there anybody you expect back other than Traxler?
A: Darryl Harris is questionable. We are going to push him, but I don't think it will happen. Andrew Wicker will be back. I expect him to be back at practice on Wednesday.

Q: Does not naming a starting quarterback today alter your practice plans?
A:
It may alter practice a little bit, but we are going to continue the same way we've been doing things. I see this as a positive. We like to push things to the end here. I thought it was going to be very obvious, but I have to credit Lane for what he's done. However, I also have to say Micheal Spurlock has gone out everyday and competed well. It's a very close race in the coaching staff's eyes.

Q: You said earlier in camp, that the freshmen running backs were going to play. Where do you stand on that and how much will they play?
A:
We moved Kendrick Perry to fullback, so it's a little late for him to play in the first game. It's more of an assignment thing with Kendrick, but eventually he and Antonio Turner will play. They aren't ready to play right now.

Q: What exactly has Lane done to make this a race?
A:
Every time he goes in, he moves the offense. I feel good with him out there. I like his stature and his demeanor. Mazzone has been impressed with how he has learned the offense. Obviously not being there much in the spring hurt him. His grasp of the offense, the way he's picking up his reads and the way he is throwing the football are all a lot better.

Q: How is your family and are they out of the path of the Hurricane?
A:
They are currently at my house, and the gumbo is cooking. Thank you for asking. We were concerned for all the families involved last night and we wish them the best.

Q: What makes (DeAngelo) Williams such a talented back?
A:
He's really low to the ground. He breaks a lot of tackles. He's in the perfect scheme for the type of running back he is. He usually makes the first guy miss. He's extremely quick. He has great lower body strength and good balance.

Q: Have you changed your practice schedule with the weather?
A:
Not at all. We are practicing inside in our beautiful indoor practice facility. I don't think we'll feel the weather any.

Q: Memphis ran a lot of misdirections and trick plays the last couple of years. What do you have to do defensively against that?
A:
Those are a matter of recognition. You cannot sit there and play the reverse or miss direction or you'll miss tackling DeAngelo Williams. It's a matter of recognition and having the right calls at the right time.

Q: You mentioned that Robert and Micheal could both play Monday. What kind of rotation do you expect that to be?
A:
If I could correct that, I think they both could play. We will name a starting quarterback right before the game, and we expect that guy to go the entire game. But, if something should happen, we feel good about putting the other guy in the game. That's the approach that we are taking.

Q: You are playing a quarterback that's never been in the game before. Do you view that as an advantage?
A:
It's an advantage if he doesn't play well. If he plays well and does some things that I wasn't prepared for, it's their advantage. It can work both ways. We don't know what type of quarterback he is and what plays he's strong at. It makes it hard to defend him. It will probably take us the first and second quarter to figure out what they are doing with him.

Q: What are the keys to containing a back like DeAngelo Williams?
A:
You have to tackle him. You have to be in the right spots at the right times. We see people playing the right defenses against him, but he makes them miss. Players are not making the plays that they are supposed to make.

Q: Do you see any similarities in DeAngelo and Reggie Bush?
A:
Sometimes. Reggie is probably faster than DeAngelo, but DeAngelo is a lot stronger than Reggie. He is a different style of runner. He can get it up inside and make you miss. His lower body strength is a lot stronger than Reggie.

Q: Talk about the linebacking corps, how they've progressed and how important it will be for them to play well against DeAngelo.
A:
There are a lot of perimeter plays and a lot of reverses that they are responsible for. Plus, DeAngelo will get on the edge. By that, I mean he'll cut back and they'll have to make a tackle in the open field. It's going to be really important for them to be able to make a one-on-one tackle on DeAngelo. Garry Pack and has done a tremendous job. Dontae Reed has had an okay camp. We are expecting a big game from Willis. Robinson has had a good camp. He wore down a little at the end. Quentin Taylor has really come up, so those guys are going to rotate at the `Will' linebacker position.

Q: You didn't mention Brandon Jenkins on the defensive front. Has he dropped off some, and two, is Abrams eligible to play against Memphis?A: Abrams is eligible to play the first game provided he practices well. Jenkins has dropped off a little bit. We are still going to play Brandon. He has to have a good week of practice. We are trying to find out if Brandon is more suitable to play for us outside or inside.

Q: Robert Russell was getting a lot of snaps for you. Where does he fit in the mix?
A:
Physically he's ready to play, mentally he's not. We may be able to get him a couple of snaps, but Patrick is going to have to play most of the snaps. Hopefully we can spell Patrick once in awhile with him, but Robert's not ready to run our whole defense yet.

Q: Has Robert Hough maintained first-team at tight end?
A:
Lawrence Lilly is moving ahead. We'll find out this week. Lilly has done a tremendous job in camp. He got moved down and with the competition, he's coming up. We may need a bigger tight end there than Hough is. All three of those guys should be considered starters. We'll name a starter at the end of the week, and it may be Lilly. We'll have to see the way the game plan according to what we want to run on offense.

Q: You played seven freshmen at USC. I count five right here. Is there anything you can say to freshmen to settle their nerves and how long does it take them to get adjusted to the speed of the game.
A:
Hopefully our practices have simulated toughness and speed with a little bit of adversity. We'll settle them down. I'll probably tell them something funny right before they go in. I'll put my hand around them and tell them I know they are going to do the right thing when I put them in there. You just have to coddle them a little more.

Q: Talk about Gary Riggs.
A:
He's coming along. He's on second team right now. He's a really good athlete. He's exactly what we thought when we recruited him. The more he learns the defense, the more we can trust him back there to be able to play the deep ball, the more he's going to play.

Q: Talk about Kendrick.
A:
We still want Larry to make plays for us. He has had an inconsistent camp. He had a very good spring. He missed a ball down there on the goal line during the last scrimmage, which was disappointing. He has come along the last couple of days. He has to have an outstanding week.

Q: Have you settled anything in the return game?
A:
Mike Espy and Taye Biddle will be back there as well as Burnell Wallace. Obviously Mike will be our No.1 guy there.

Q: What about Mico McSwain?
A:
Mico needs to get some snaps. We need to find some plays for him in our offense. He's explosive and very quick. He gives us an extra dimension on offense. We are going to fit him into our game plan.

Q: Is there any clarification on who'll be kicking off and kicking field goals, etc. or do you still need this week to determine that?
A:
Moseley will be the kickoff guy. He will kick our long field goals, and Hinkle will kick the short field goals. As of right now, Moseley will be our punter.



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