No Rest for The Weary

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt, his team 3-2 and on a two-game win streak, said he's happy to have an open date Saturday. His team desperately needs it from an injury and health standpoint.

"It's good to have this open date as we talked about already," said Nutt, in his third year at Ole Miss. "It couldn't come at a better time. We've got a lot of guys in the training room, and we're trying to get them out. Lot more concussions than I've ever experienced before. Seems like they're hitting all at one time."

Nutt said the Rebel staff is checking on all the players involved to make sure when they might be able to go again.

"We've got to be real cautious," he said. "(Trainer) Tim Mullins and his staff are evaluating these guys each day. We won't know who we'll have tomorrow for practice right now. A.J. Hawkins is another who had a stinger in his shoulder and he left the game early. He probably will not practice the next couple of days. Evan (Swindall) will get a lot of work, along with Chris Gill. Just got to go to work to get ready for probably one of the best teams we've ever seen."

Nutt said it's still an important week for a lot of reasons, even without a game this weekend.

Houston Nutt

"We got the soreness out yesterday. Tomorrow we will come back in here and watch some film and start on Alabama. Then we'll have Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and have really good days. This will also be used as a recruiting week. We'll all go out Thursday and Friday and really try to cover the state good. You're trying to get guys well and you're trying to get better fundamentally and trying to get a head start on gameplanning for Alabama."

Here are other points Nutt made in today's weekly press conference:

Q: Does it surprise you a little your team is second in the SEC in rushing?

Nutt: It does. If you told me back in the summer that at almost the midway point we'd be second in rushing and with some of the things (injuries) that have happened to our defense, we really thought we'd be depending on the defense to bring that offense along. But we didn't think we'd be second in rushing. So I'm proud of those guys, they're fighting hard. Backs are running hard. We've got to keep our passing game going and work hard on that this week, because you've got to have both. People in this league will try to make you play left-handed, overpopulate the line of scrimmage. You've got to be able to make some throws.

Q: Your thoughts on Alabama?

Nutt: I think everybody should have an open week before they play Alabama. They are deep, fast, you just don't see any weaknesses. And the quarterback, McElroy, just doesn't get enough credit. He's a tremendous manager of the game clock, huddle, presence. Got Julio Jones out there. Got two great ones behind you. The offensive line is seasoned, and a defense that's going to get you the ball. Tough. They wait on you to make a mistake. Then they capitalize.

Jerrell Powe

Q: Through five games you don't have a single defensive lineman with double-digit tackles yet. Is that by design, or is that disappointing?

Nutt: We just expect so much from our guys. We expect so much more from them. We've got Jerrell Powe. We've got Ted Laurent. I know Jerrell is sometimes getting double-teamed a lot. But we expect a lot. Jerrell Powe, Ted Laurent, Lawon Scott, these guys are the backbone of our defense. We want those guys making plays, and we know they'll get four hands on them a lot. If that happens, there ought to be some others stepping up. We've just got to keep going and get better. The two things I loved about last Saturday: One was the physicalness of our team. We were hitting very hard. And two, the ball was coming out. We got turnovers. Three turnovers equal 21 points equal victory. We've got to build off that.

Q: Talk about how the young guys have graded out through five games?

Nutt: They're getting better. Guys like Charles Sawyer, getting better. Brishen Matthews was coming along; sure hoping we can get him back. A guy that young that's taken so many good strides. He's getting better and understanding the speed of the game, the toughness of it. These guys are growing up. Cameron Whigham's getting better. And they'll get more and more. We've just got to keep bringing them along. If A.J. can't go, you'll see a freshman in there at center. Seems like it doesn't stop. It's just all hands on deck, everybody getting better, everybody working hard to improve. When you go from Friday night to Saturday, it's a whole different world.

Q: Talk about the progress of H.R. Greer.

Nutt: H.R. has always been an awesome young man who works hard. Tremendous listener. He wants to please. Love his attitude. He's been real physical at the fullback spot. We told him his time would come. It seems like it's coming. Really consider him a starter. He goes in there and bangs heads with linebackers and defensive ends. Then he slips out and catches the ball. That's a good reward for him. He's been outstanding for us.

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