Stoudt Emergence

OXFORD, Miss. - And then, there was one. At least for now.

Follow SpiritJeff on Twitter

Ole Miss quarterback Zack Stoudt entered Saturday's season-opening game against BYU in the last offensive possession for the Rebels in the first half. But a few minutes were left until the clock buzzed for halftime.

"I was told I might get in, so I just stayed loose on the sideline for the first quarter and a half. I went in and didn't do anything special, just did what they told me to do. The guys around me made me look pretty good."

Starter Barry Brunetti had proven ineffective, and Stoudt was billed by the Ole Miss coaching staff as the best option under center for a two-minute offense.

Stoudt, a junior college transfer, followed script, leading a once-stagnant offense on a nine-play, 49-yard scoring drive that resulted in a Bryson Rose field goal of 20 yards. Stoudt was 2 for 4 in the drive for 21 yards. The game, a 14-13 loss, was his from there.

"I thought (Stoudt) righted us there before the half, and he did. He drove the ball down the length of the field and got us a field goal and got us on the board," offensive coordinator David Lee said. "That was encouraging. Barry, we gave him some good chances and he didn't play bad. Hit two out of three. Just was needing a spark, and I felt like we needed to throw the ball down the field and Zack does that a little bit better than Barry does, so we went with him.

"We did see that Zack Stoudt can go in there and set his feet and throw the ball. He's tough, and he can throw the ball down the field. We lost the ballgame on offense."

Stoudt finished the game 13 of 25 for 140 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. However, a sure-bet, 43-yard touchdown pass was dropped by Nick Brassell. Ole Miss finished with just 208 yards of total offense on 57 plays.

"Once you get that first completion, you get like a confidence. You realize you're here for a reason, you know? They recruited you. They think you're good enough," Stoudt said. "You get in a groove, and you realize that you are good enough to hang with these guys. It's just football at a different speed."

BYU players celebrate a touchdown
Bruce Newman

"He gave us some momentum," Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said of Stoudt. "We were going to need some throws, and that's his strength. I thought he played well. Did a good job of getting rid of the ball. Didn't force it. I thought he did some good things."

The loss, at least to Stoudt, was a game of missed opportunities. The decisive play was a sack of Stoudt on third-and-27 on the Ole Miss 20-yard line. BYU defender Kyle Van Noy recovered the fumble near the Ole Miss goal line, scoring a three-yard touchdown.

"The guy came through, didn't see him, didn't have two hands on the ball. Hit me and I lost it," Stoudt said. "One mistake, you know? Let it get away. Pretty close (to getting the ball out). I had it separated with my hands. I was ready to throw it.

"We were backed up on third and a mile, and it was three guys going deep in max protection. A guy came around on the end and he hit me and I lost the ball."

Injured Backs:

For a team that will rely heavily on its running game, the Rebels saw theirs diminish in terms of numbers in the first half. Both running back Jeff Scott and Brandon Bolden went down to leg injuries. Later in the game, Enrique Davis also was injured.

On the second offensive play of the game for the Rebels, Scott was injured and fumbled. He was taken off the field by cart but returned with five minutes to go in the first period. A left ankle strain was the diagnosis, but he was able to come back and contribute in the contest.

Jeff Scott
Bruce Newman

Scott finished with only five carries on the day and caught a couple of passes. But a 16-yard reception of a Zack Stoudt pass and a seven-yard run, both on the Rebels' final drive of the first half, helped set up a 20-yard Bryson Rose field goal that made it 3-0 Ole Miss.

Bolden, the Rebels' star running back who was counted on to carry a major portion of the workload this season, could be done. He rushed four times for 28 yards, and on his final carry injured an ankle in the second quarter. Although he was able to walk off the field, it could be severe. He was on the sidelines in the second half on crutches.

Davis ended the game with 12 carries for 28 losses.

There remained a lot of questions postgame concerning the three running backs.

"I don't know for sure, but Brandon doesn't look real good," Nutt said. "Looks like something could be wrong with the ankle. Maybe fractured. But I don't know. I don't know about Enrique. I'll have to check on that."

Sawyer takes it to the house:

Sophomore safety Charles Sawyer picked off a Jake Heaps pass for one of the Rebels' highlights of the day. It was returned 96 yards for a touchdown that put the Rebels up 10-0.

He agreed with defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix that the Rebels tricked the BYU offense on the play.

"That's what really helped us there," Sawyer, who had seven tackles including three solos, said of the disguise the Rebels used on the play. "I just saw the quarterback and the ball pretty much. I didn't know the interception was going to happen. But I knew a good play was going to happen because we disguised it so well."

"It was a good play," Nix said. "They were driving the football on us. We weren't doing a good job at the moment. We made a call and disguised some things, made it look like one particular coverage. Charles Sawyer stepped in front of it and took it down the near sideline. The guys stayed high and in front and we were able to score."

OM Spirit Top Stories