The following are quotes from a couple of assistant coaches and key players in Ole Miss' 28-25 victory over Memphis to open the 2006 season.
MLB Patrick Willis
: (On the defense) No excuses - we just didn't play as good as we should have. Coach O expected more out of us and we should have produced more. We have to get better. (On Memphis' run game) The scheme they have is tough to defense if you don't see it much. They were catching us out of position and gashing us some. (On Memphis' OL) They did a good job. Coach (Tommy) West and his staff had a great gameplan and they executed. We executed some but not as consistently as we should have. (On his fumble recovery) It was a good play, but we have to do more than that in the turnover department to be a good defense. (On how he felt) Great. It felt good to be out there without the club on my hand and all that. (On covering the fumble) I probably couldn't have done that last year with the club. I saw it and pounced. (On the Reb offense) They won the game. It felt good to see them execute like that. We have to do a better job to help them. (On getting the first win) It's great to get that under our belts. We will build some momentum off this, I believe. We will work to get better and help the offense next week more than we did today.
WR Coach Matt Lubick: (On Dexter McCluster's performance) I thought he did a really good job for a freshman in that atmosphere. He's such a competitor. We saw that in high school - he wants the ball in his hands. I was worried about him getting winded, but he didn't. He's so mentally tough and wants to be out there all the time. He was a high school running back and is just starting to learn WR. He's going to get better and better. He had a great camp as a playmaker and needs the ball. I've been coaching in college for 10 years and have never seen a better work ethic than he has. He's not only a tremendous athlete, he's a better kid than he is athlete. A great student of the game and the kind of person you'd want as your son. We gameplanned some things like the trick play and end arounds to suit his talents and experience as a running back. (On the other wideouts) We weren't able to get the ball to them. We had some other guys open, but Brent didn't see them due to the pressure he had on him. I thought he made some great decisions and got the ball to the right guy tonight based on his reads and progressions. I'm sure we will look at the film and see other open guys and Brent will see them the more experience he gets in this offense. Memphis plays so much man coverage, we felt the crossing routes to Dexter would be open and we wanted to get the ball in his hands with DBs chasing him and him in full stride. It's hard to chase him all the way across the field with his speed and quickness.
CB Trumaine McBride
: (On the defense) We came out a little flat today, but we picked it up a little bit in the second half. We have to come out next week with more focus. (On the busted coverage that went for one long Memphis score) We had a miscommunication on the other side of the field, but we fixed it during the game and figured out what went wrong. It didn't happen again. It was supposed to be a deep zone, but our deep man played flat. He made a mistake. (On the screen plays that Memphis got good mielage out of) We did a good job getting off their blocks and stopping the screen when we were in man coverage, but not as good when we were in zone. In the second half, we played more man coverage which helped us get off their WR blocks quicker.
CB Nate Banks: (On Memphis' defense) We were prepared for all the things they do, but we didn't stop them as often as we should have. They had some good wide receivers, but we let them get the ball in their hands more than they should have with the short stuff. We made them work for their yardage, but we could have done better. Their big receivers were a challenge, but we've been preparing for that and should have done a litle better.
DE Peria Jerry
: (On the defense) We made too many mistakes today, but they are correctable. We need to spend this week correcting mistakes and playing smarter. We lost our gaps some today, which we should never do. We'll be fine, but we have work to do. (On his injuries) I'm banged up, but I'll be alright. I didn't feel bad out there today, but I'd like to be healthier.
WR Marshay Green: (On his punt return where he changed direction four times before getting otuside for a big gainer) I just used my quickness and kept going back and forth until I thought I could get the corner. Then I got two or three crack back blocks and I was almost gone. I can't believe I let the punter run me down! (On freshman WR Dexter McCluster) He was open - get him the ball. He did a great job. We were nervous at first, but after the first return of the game, we were OK. Dexter and I are tight, but we compete hard and will contiue to do that. I think we bring out the best in each other.
DE Greg Hardy: (On his first action and his QB sack) I was a little excited and nervous with that big crowd, but I got into it. On my sack, I had him in my sites and I wasn't going to stop my pursuit until I caught him. That's just the way I play.
Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner: (On the first game performance of his offense) I give the offensive guys an "A." To have no turnovers, no penalties, no delays and to be able to run the ball the way we did with this group that has never played together, I would have never believed it. I am very pleased. We gave them a lot of looks trying to figure out what they would do to take some things away, but they didn't adjust a lot so we kept running the same running plays and same pass routes. They were working and we were going to keep calling them. (On Dexter McCluster) Imagine that kid was playing high school ball last year. Every catch he had was crucial. I am very proud of him and what he did tonight, not only catching the ball, but rushing it and in the return game. He's a playmaker. (On QB Brent Schaeffer) His did a very, very good job. Again, this is a guy who's been here four weeks. We had no delay of game penalties, no penalties and he didn't have a throw that was even close to being picked off. A great job of managing the offense. (On BenJarvus Green-Ellis_ He did exactly what I thought he would do - run hard. The O-line was blocking, he was running hard and we kept feeding him. It's easy calling plays when you have a guy like that who is producing every time you call his number. He just got stronger and stronger as the game progressed too. We got down to the end and needed to run the clock out. We just gave it to him. (On the trick play that scored and some of the misdirection plays and reverses) You have to have plays like that in your playbook to keep people off-balance. And you have to call them. Today, some of them worked and some of them didn't, but I think we had them thinking about staying at home when they lined up on defense. (On getting the game ball from Coach O) I am very proud of that. It means a lot to me. Coach O brought me in here to help instill a toughness in the run game and I think Coach (Art) Kehoe and I helped do that today. We still have a long way to go, but we had a good start today. (On the bottom line) I've never had a first game that went that well, even with a field full of seniors. I'm sure we'll see mistakes when we watch the film, but we didn't make mistakes that hurt us badly and that is very satisfying.
TB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: (On his 127-yard rushing performance) I felt good out there. I was able to hit the holes and get behind my OL and go. I think we all got stronger as the game wore on and we made some adjustments that helped the running game click. I love my OL - they played hard and were effective. (On his debut as a Rebel) I just go out there and execute to the best of my ability and whatever happens just happens. Today, it went our way. I am proud of this team and grateful for the chance to get the ball in my hands as much as I did. (On Dexter McCluster) I'm real proud of him. He's a playmaker and his performance helped open up the running game.
WR Dexter McCluster: (On his day) The opening kickoff gave me some confidence and knocked the nerves off. Memphis gave us some things in the passing game that just happened to come my way. I was open a lot and Brent found me a lot. THe slants and crossing patterns worked real well. (On the trick play for a TD) I'm short, so I could kind of hide behind the offensive line. Brent and the other backs went one way and drew the defense off of me and I just ran around the corner. It was wide open and I used my speed to score. (On his ankle) It's fine. I turned it a little, but came back in. It's fine.
QB Brent Schaeffer: (On his day) I did OK. Everyone was hitting on all cylinders so it made it easier for me to do my job. I had fun out there. I just had to make sure we were getting out of the huddle on time, making the right checks and executing. I think I had a pretty good day. I want to throw the ball a little better in the future, but I ran the ball well and ran the offense pretty good. (On Dexter McCluster) He just seemed to be the guy who was open as I progressed through my reads. Memphis was taking away the tight end and some other routes, but Dexter seemed to find the cracks and seams. He did a real good job. Going to him that often wasn't planned, it's just the way it worked out and he performed when he had the opportunities.
After Ole Miss' 28-25 win over Memphis, Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner said he had never been involved in an opening game that went as smoothly as this one. He was taken by surprise by no turnovers and no penalties from a young unit. Read his quotes and quotes of several players inside.