For Ole Miss, the year 2005 will be evaluated by the recruiting season rather than by won-lost…
Coach Orgeron meets the press postgame
"I was really pleased with the way the team played in the second half. We went in at halftime, made some adjustments on offense, and came out and moved the ball a little bit. I was really pleased with the way the defense played the option today. Obviously we shut them down pretty good, and our guys worked really hard.
Q: Coach, it looks like it's going to be the lowest defensive yardage given in a few years. Can you talk a little more about the defense?
"Basically we played a base defense. It really does us a lot of good to have Patrick Willis and Jamarca Sanford back. We've started to gel on defense and are starting to come together."
Q: What adjustments did you make at halftime?
"Running the football and how to pick up a couple of fronts they were giving us that we weren't doing a good job picking up. We just started running the ball better in the second half."
Q: Coach, did you see more improvement in the right direction on defense this past week?
"Yeah. I saw a lot of improvement this week. Our team had some confidence coming back from the Tennessee game. I saw the practices being better, out attention to detail being better, so I think we continued on a positive path. We have to continue on that path this week. Obviously, we have a big-time opponent coming in in Alabama, and we've got to play very well."
Q: Talk about the decision to play Robert Lane coming out in the second half.
"We needed a jump-start on offense and wanted to give him a shot. This was about competition. We were pretty stagnant on offense and wanted to give (Robert) a shot. I think it gave Micheal a shock. He came on the sideline for a little bit and when he went back out there, I thought he came back out there, competed and played pretty good."
Q: The defensive touchdown seemed to rejuvenate the team. Talk about that.
"I think so. There's no doubt. We worked hard on coming back in the second half, getting fired up, and being ready to go. We said we had to create some turnovers, and it happened."
Q: Viciente DeLoach got his first action. Did he do something in practice to warrant a little more playing time, and how do you think he played?
"I think he played OK. I'll have to see the film, obviously. But we had an injury to Corvelli Haynes, and we couldn't let (Chris) Bowers play every down, so we wanted to give him a couple of snaps. I'm glad (Viciente) got to play."
Q: With those adjustments, do you feel like the offensive line played a little better in the second half?
"It looks like it. It looks like they had some big holes in the second half. Their defensive line wasn't in the backfield as much as it was in the first half. Obviously we've got to see it, but I think they did (play better in the second half)."
Q: Did you think with your size advantage up front that you would be able to establish that rhythm a little earlier?
"Yes, I was hoping to. There's no doubt. I think we need to in the future take advantage of that. I was disappointed at halftime that we couldn't run the ball."
Q: Coach, can you talk about the second quarter? You seemed to struggle again in the second quarter this week, can you talk about that?
"Well, we've identified it, and we're looking at it. We really are. We have made some adjustments on defense as to what we're doing in the second quarter, and we looked at why we're breaking down. We'll continue to get better in the second quarter."
Q: What did it mean to your offense to have Mario Hill back, and what did you think of his day?
"I think he had a great day and made some big plays for us. He made some big third down plays. Obviously, he's our leading receiver and gave them a big boost. He's our go-to guy."
Q: It seemed like some of the younger guys and Jamal moving over to fullback picked up some of that protection a little better.
"Yeah. I was really pleased with the pass protection. We had a big time penalty after a big play, so I was disappointed again with the penalties. We have way too many penalties, especially on special teams. We have to cut those things out."
Q: Talk about Rob Park making his punting debut.
"Coach Rippon, again always surprising me right before gametime, made some adjustments. He wanted to start Rob because he wasn't kicking very good in practice. I think (Rob) was a little shaky in the beginning, but he came up with a big punt towards the end. We're pleased to see him be able to punt. It takes a lot of pressure off of Will (Moseley)."
Q: Coach, you talked about your defense creating some instant offense. How good was it to see that today?
"It was great. It really was. That's what our defense is all about. Go and get the ball. I think it came at a great time and am interested to see it on film. Not only did we cause the turnover, but we were able to score on it. It was big for our football team."
Q: How important is it for the defense to continue that production as the offense finds itself?
"We need to, and we need to be able to understand that there will be some times when our offense will not produce. We still have to go out there and play some defense. We have to be tough. I believe that defense cannot have a bad day. That's how you build championships."
Q: Have you ever had one defensive player mean as much to a unit as Patrick Willis does to this one?
"He surely means a lot to us right now. He's the heart and soul of our football team, and not just our defense. He means a lot to us. In the past, we've had several players like that, but I think he is far and above the best player we have on the team."
Q: Is he better than you thought when you did your first evaluations?
"He's playing good, no doubt. And he's living up to the expectations."
Q: What does the defense need to do to combat Brodie Croyle and (Kenneth) Darby?
"We're going to find that out starting tomorrow. Being able to play our base defense (should combat them). Anytime you play your base defense and not put your guys out of position to compete, you become a better team. When you have to start calling a bunch of defenses, you may not play them as well as you want them to."
Q: You had a good kicking game across the board today. Talk about that.
"I think Coach Rippon is doing a good job. We've been scratching and clawing and fighting to find the guys. I think they've finally come together. I really like the rotation that we have now, and I just love the way that Coach Rippon is coaching the special teams.
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