Sam Pittman press conference notes

• Sam Pittman opens his presser by sending his thoughts and prayers to those at Virginia who were impacted by the shooting there.

• Ole Miss is explosive and has great skill. Mingo, Judkins, Dart, really fine talents skill-wise. They have really good wide receivers. Defensively, they are disruptive. They’re playing extremely well. Lost a close game last weekend, but they’re well-coached. Looking forward to a night game at home – the first of the kind in SEC play.

• On KJ: We anticipate him practicing today and playing on Saturday. Those things can change. They have the last two weeks, but he feels better than he has since the Auburn game. I know he feels better than he has the last two weeks.

• We lost last week. We changed up practice last week. We played an excellent game on defense. We haven’t necessarily done that much this year. What we did last week in practice that helped us play well on that side of the ball, we will carry it into this week.

• Pittman did not have an update on Myles Slusher and Anthony Brown’s status for this week. Brown will remain on the scout team defense, and Slusher will move up from scout team. He will have a concrete determination by Wednesday, he said.

• We haven’t been able to win the close games this year. We have to figure out how to do that every year or your record is going to go from 9-10 wins to 5-6 wins. We’re 5-5. We have high expectations, and I like having them. But we want to win. We’re disappointed with where we are. I think you’ll see a team on Saturday that wants to get bowl eligible.

• Asked about role injuries have played this season: I think it’s a big thing. Some guys are 1s for a reason. A guy like KJ is special and could play for anybody. It’s hard when you lose your key guys. This year it’s been a rash of injuries in the secondary and we never got comfortable with each other until the last game and a half, probably.

• Ole Miss’ pressure: It’s a game-by-game deal. They send guys to stop the run. They’ve got more into a movement, blitzing style recently after giving up a bunch of rushing yards early in the season. We have an idea what they’re going to do against us. The bottom line is they’re going to bring a blitz to the back or away from him.

• The series with Ole Miss: The fans are always going to be excited about these games because it seems like there’s always going to be a lot of offense. If we can get our quarterback back, I think there’s a chance it’ll be a whale of a game. We’re working hard to change things. The fans are going to show up and raise a lot of heck and show out. Sam Carter left here and went over there. There’s a lot to play for.

• On Judkins and the Rebels’ O-line: One of their guys up front is from Conway. Their interior guys have played together for a long time, and another guy is someone I went after hard when I was at Georgia. Judkins is a really good back. He can make you miss, catches the ball well and is a big-time threat to catch out of the backfield. They run downhill and remind me a bit of Mississippi State’s backs in how they get north and south in a hurry.

• Ty’Kieast Crawford: For his first start, I thought he did a good job. I thought he held up pretty darn good. Pittman said on the final play that a tailback bumped Crawford’s hip, and that opened him up even more, allowing Harold Perkins to get around him for the strip sack.

• Dalton Wagner is going to practice some today. My philosophy on it is we don’t say a kid is out if he can do something. We like to check them out in individual drills then see how much they can do in practice.

• Barry Odom on the sideline: We won 9 games with him upstairs. But he’s been down on the sideline recently. He can explain the changes we’re making to the kids and us. If things aren’t working, you can be bull-headed or you can try to fix it. I think it was the BYU game that we made the change, and it worked. He’ll stay down there.

• On the weather: I hope it’s colder this weekend. The weather probably did impact the scoring last week. The colder the better. We’re rooting for a freeze-out if we can get it.