Dores Knockin'

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt had little to say Thursday, but with good reason.

His team had finished up one of its better weeks of practice in shorts and shirts. All that remains is an 11:20 kickoff with Vanderbilt Saturday, Ole Miss' Southeastern Conference opener.

He kept his answers short and sweet, his players filing out in droves behind him. He was focused, pointed. The Rebels sit 1-1 on the season, an ugly loss to FCS opponent Jacksonville State the lone blemish.

Saturday marks the beginning of a new season all together. And it's a meeting with an all too familiar foe.

Houston Nutt

"Really good concentration today," he said. "We put them in a lot of kicking situations, two-minute situations. I like the way we're focused right now, and looking forward to the first SEC game."

The energy on the practice fields was palpable this week. Nutt was characteristically animated, but even he had a bit more bounce to his step. This game will be the 85th between Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, the Rebels having won 13 of the last 17 meetings.

"The energy was much better (this week)," he said. "That's what you like to see. That's the way to go about things; the only way to do it.

Ole Miss holds a 22-4 series advantage in games played in Oxford, despite a 23-17 loss to Vanderbilt in 2008. The Rebels are kicking off their conference slate with the Commodores for the sixth time in the last eight seasons.

"It makes all the difference in the world to be on top of your conference," Nutt said. "There's not a better place to start than right here at home."

Nutt said the added concentration this week has been a direct result of Ole Miss' early fortunes. Well, maybe misfortunes. The home loss to Jacksonville State still lingers, providing the wake-up call for a season only entering its third week.

"Absolutely. It's just the focus of it," Nutt said. "Whenever you get knocked off early like that, it's a real wake-up call, a real message that every win, every game is precious. You can't take it for granted, even when you're up big at halftime."

Injury-wise, Mike Marry, who will be attending his grandmother's funeral, won't be available against the Commodores. Same for freshman defensive end Cameron Whigham and sophomore guard Josh Tatum, both hurt in a 27-13 win at Tulane last weekend. Freshman running back Jeff Scott is questionable.

Sophomore Rudy Wilson is running behind first-team linebacker Allen Walker in Marry's absence.

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