Nutt: 'This season has not gone as planned'

Houston Nutt was more passionate than he's been all fall when he took the podium at Monday's weekly press conference. At 4-6, he sensed some things he felt he needed to address.

"Let's just go back to the start of the year," said the third-year Ole Miss head football coach. "This season has not gone the way we planned. We knew this was going to be a difficult year with the amount of players we lost. What we didn't plan on was three knee surgeries, four concussions, losing Kentrell Lockett, the leader, losing a guy like that.

"It's been 50 years since we won back to back January 1 games," he continued. "My point is, I'm excited, not with wins and losses. I'm excited there are 12 freshmen playing. I'm excited about the future. I know in my heart more than ever we can get to Atlanta. Because I know we can recruit here. We've proven that the last two seasons.

"What you didn't plan on was that first game that put you in a tailspin. What you didn't plan on were a couple of other games, and it's my fault. We weren't as sharp. We weren't as ready as we should have been.

"But I see a lot of hope and I'm excited. I'm excited about these next two games. I don't want to lose focus on this. I remember the day we got here. I didn't see any life. I saw no hope. I don't want that to come back on our guys now, and that's what I'm feeling a little bit. I don't want that. I want to convince them of this.

"There are two games left. A lot of these guys have done a lot of good things the last two years here. It's easy to dwell on the negatives. I was the first one to say it after Saturday. I was sick to my stomach. We planned on winning that game."

Nutt said as much as all would like to avoid them, there are years when there are less wins than what is expected.

Kentrell Lockett

"You think Florida's happy (this season)? You think Georgia's happy (this season)? There's going to be a year in this league, the greatest league in America, when things don't go just right. But it's not all about doom and gloom. That's what is difficult about the world we're in now.

"I've got 18 and 19 year olds that actually believe everything that comes in from outside these walls. I've got to turn that."

Nutt said building for the future is one important key. He mentioned bringing in players for the seasons ahead.

"We've got some outstanding recruits. Recruiting is still going good," he said. "The last two signing classes have been real good. I think this will be our best one."

The Rebels were picked by most to finish last in the SEC West. At 1-5, those prognostications were clearly on the mark. But Nutt, who wasn't diminishing trying to win them all, said the win-loss numbers have been worse than he expected.

"I planned on 7 wins, 8 wins at this point, but the reality is we're not. So I'm not going to allow my players to be gloom and doom. Remember, you're a part of something that's great. It wasn't too long ago they were patting you on the back."

Nutt basically said, through these times and all times, keep the faith.

"I want to tell our fans that. I want to tell our players that most of all. Get your head up. This is the greatest thing about football. It teaches you all you want about life. There's no sin about getting knocked down. The sin is if you stay down.

"I want to make sure our coaches are going as hard as we can with all the energy and effort to make sure they (players) are taking the correct step, the proper stance, the perfect read, and play.

"You don't play tight. You turn it loose. We turned it loose the last two years, and even in the games we played well this year. And it's always been that way with us. Always. Turn it loose and play the greatest game in America with a lot passion and enthusiasm. Turn it loose."

Nutt then looked ahead at the immediate challenge – Louisiana State University. The Rebels have beaten the Tigers both seasons Nutt has been at Ole Miss. In his last game as the Arkansas head coach, his Razorbacks defeated the Tigers in Baton Rouge.

"We're getting ready to go play one of the best teams in America," he said. "LSU has one of the finest defenses I've seen. It starts with their front. They're big, fast, swarm, and don't give up much with speed. One day we'll be two and three deep just like that. They have real speed from the front to the back."

"Offensively they have real weapons at the wideout. A real tailback. A good offensive line. Good special teams. We're playing the No. 5 team in the country - LSU. Get ready."

Houston Nutt

Nutt hopes some things go the Rebels' way for a change.

"I can't explain when a linebacker is in a perfect position and a ball gets tipped up and we've got two safeties, and their receiver goes through those two, catches it on a dead run and goes 80. That's hard to explain. But that's kind of the year we've had.

"I want them to forget about all that and go play. We've got a very important 120 minutes (the next two games)."

Other notes from Nutt:

On looking at the future with some of the youth on the team.

"I look at Charles Sawyer and Mike Marry and Cameron Whigham and Jeff Scott. I look at our new offensive line. I just have a lot of hope, and our players have to feel that. They hear the other, because we're sitting in here at last place. We've got to start feeding it the other way. The only way you spell fun is W I N. We've got to get to that point again."

On having to coach against some of the things they would normally do because of some certain circumstances.

"You're exactly right. Good point. When you're trying to mix that puzzle and fix it, sometimes it is hard. But it is what it is and we take what we have and keep going. I just want them to play with unbelievable heart. Play with passion and speed I know we can play. Be physical and take care of the ball. The turnovers are a frustration. I've never been at this level of turnovers. We haven't won the turnover margin and that is frustrating."

On not having a large senior class and that being a negative for leadership.

"Again, I don't want to blame anything on the previous staff. I appreciate the players I inherited. The players I inherited that Ed Orgeron recruited were very, very good players. I want to make that real clear. The bottom line is they didn't know how to win, and they were used to losing and accepted it. I don't want to go back. But you usually play as good as your senior class. That's when you win the most games. We saw that here two years ago. The seniors are the catalyst, the motor that drives it. We avhe very few numbers, and we're missing the best one in Kentrell Lockett."

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