Game Week Again

At his Monday press conference, Houston Nutt said he's seen bye weeks have different effects on teams. But the open date last weekend couldn't have come at a better time for his Ole Miss Rebels.

"I've seen bye weeks work both ways," Nutt said. "What I mean by that is sometimes bye weeks are disruptive. In our case we really needed it, because we've never had this many concussions. We had a lot of things happening right there. So we needed it and it came at a really good time for us. I'm glad we had a bye week."

That being the case, Nutt said it was positive to see so many of the walking wounded on the field at practice Sunday.

"It was good to see everybody back yesterday after a good open date," he said, his team 3-2 after back to back wins against Fresno State and Kentucky. "We had a lot of our guys that had been injured back on the field. That was a good feeling. Hopefully everybody should be ready to go by Tuesday, and we'll get ready for this strong team – Alabama."

The Crimson Tide is coming off its first loss since the Sugar Bowl following the 2008 season when Utah won in New Orleans. South Carolina beat Alabama 35-21 last Saturday in Columbia.

Houston Nutt

"We know the environment and atmosphere we're about to walk into," Nutt said. "We know how good they are. But I'm excited about our guys. They were excited about practicing yesterday. We know now we're going into the teeth of the schedule and looking forward to it."

Late Start in Bryant-Denny Stadium

Nutt said the players like night games, but it makes for a lengthy day when the start is as late as 8 p.m., which it will be Saturday to accommodate ESPN2.

"There's a lot of time during the day," he said of one of the later kickoffs on Saturday. "If you had your choice, naturally you'd love to play a little earlier. But we don't have that, and we know that. So you just have to deal with it and you have to go. But 8 o'clock is a little late."

Nutt said no matter when the game kicks off, the Crimson Tide is a formidable foe. He would like to see his team play as well against them as the Gamecocks did.

"Watching the game film, South Carolina really played a perfect ballgame," he said. "And what I mean by that is they did make some mistakes, yes. But they executed what they wanted to do. They threw it up to a big, tall receiver and he made some unbelievable plays, a one-handed catch and some plays when he was completely covered. Their running back played hard. And they did a really good job on special teams. You just can't help Alabama out. They do such a good job on special teams. Bottom line, (South Carolina) made plays."

While Alabama didn't run the football as effectively against USC as it normally does, Nutt said the Tide backfield is special.

"We know there is a Heisman Trophy guy back there, No. 22, and we know No. 3 is not far behind him," Nutt said. "We fully expect the ball to be in their hands.

"But they have really good receivers, too. They've got real weapons. You'd better be careful when you start to try to overpopulate that line of scrimmage. You've got to pick and choose your times. But we fully expect the ball to be in the hands of those (runners) a lot."

Shack Attack

Nutt said D.T. Shackelford has made substantial progress since his arrival at Ole Miss.

D.T. Shackelford

"He's just been a pleasure to coach. He's been raised by great parents. He's yes-sir, no-sir. He made a 4.00 in the spring. He's everything you want in a student-athlete."

The sophomore linebacker from Decatur, Ala., has been focused and driven since he arrived on campus.

"I'm just really proud of how he's adjusted," Nutt said. "He had to play early as a freshman and fought through some injuries. He comes to work every day with a tremendous attitude. What can I do to help the team? Nothing like it."

Nutt said the defensive end position is one they are taking a long, hard look at as far as some situations.

"We are looking at a couple of different scenarios. We want to challenge Wayne Dorsey to be at his best and get going. I think he has improved. We're trying to build depth. Between Cameron Whigham and LaMark Armour, we're always trying to have the right chemistry. We're always going to play around eight guys, and keep them fresh and fast."

Friday Night Lights

Nutt and his staff were able to be on the road last weekend for high school football games across the state and region. He said it was good to be out there among the coaches, players, and fans.

"That is another good reason to have an open date. That way we're able to go out and see good high school football on Friday nights. There is nothing quite like it. Those guys play with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. The reception from the coaches and people in the stands was really good. It was a good Friday night."

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