In Tune

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt has his antennae up to see how his team is responding this week in practice. So far, so good. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt was anxious to see how his team would respond in practice Tuesday after putting the LSU loss in their rear view window.

What he saw in the 2-hour workout in the IPF was pleasing to him.

"We had an excellent practice yesterday and we are looking forward to another good one today as we prepare for a very good Mississippi State team," Nutt said. "It's easy to get down and point fingers in a tough year, but these guys have not done that. We're learning some life lessons, some hard ones, and are responding to them with the right attitude, even though the results are not what we wanted.

"I have been proud that the seniors have tried to lead and have stayed focused. They've been around some good times in past seasons and this year has been difficult, but they are hanging in there and I appreciate that as their coach."

Nutt has spent a lot of time trying to keep the Rebs going in the right direction.

"One, we have stayed positive, but it's more than that. We have continued to stress practicing the right way and not just going through the motions. We are demanding a sincere, genuine effort to improve," he said. "Add playing hard to that list and that's the recipe to keep going."

Houston Nutt

Nutt is optimistic the wounded from the LSU game - namely DT Ted Laurent (groin) and WR Markeith Summers (hamstring) - will be able to play against MSU.

"We are encouraged. They were at practice yesterday and we feel they should be close to full speed Saturday. They should be fine," he noted. "This is the biggest game of the year for us, so all hands on deck. It's the last game this yeaer. It's the Egg Bowl. It's the last time some of these guys will put on a football uniform. To me, it's the most important 60 minutes of their lives. They will play if they are able."

If there is something the Rebs can hang their hats on, it's been the steady improvement of the run game behind a young, improving OL.

"One of the things we were unsure about was our offensive line, but to be in November and feel this good about them is a surprise," he added. "They have done some things I didn't think they could do as youngsters - guys like Jared Duke, Evan Swindall, Patrick Junen. Those guys should be on the scout team, by all rights. They have done a good job of competing and of learning a very fast game at a high level. I am very proud of them."

MSU Coach Dan Mullen's juvenile reference to "the school up north" doesn't faze Nutt.

"I don't spend too much effort or energy on stuff like that. I'm just trying to get my team ready to play," Nutt closed. "My concerns about them are more about a good, aggressive defense, an improved quarterback in Chris Relf and a good offensive line. They play hard and they have done a good job with their team. They have done a nice job with the things they do.

"My effort is on preparing our team for the intensity of this game. A lot of our young guys have heard about the Egg Bowl and the rivalry but have never experienced it. It's all a learning experience, one you have to be ready for in a hurry. When things have not gone your way, the most difficult thing is to keep them going with the right level of spirit and energy they need. That is what I was proud of last week against LSU - they fought to the bitter end. I expect the same this week and expect a different ending."


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