Stoudt the Starter

Following a solid if unspectacular performance in a loss to BYU, junior Ole Miss quarterback Zack Stoudt was named the starter for Saturday's game against Southern Illinois, head coach Houston Nutt announced Monday afternoon.

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"We're going to start Zack Stoudt," Nutt said. "We'll just keep practicing the other two (Barry Brunetti, Randall Mackey) a little bit, but most of the reps are going to go to Zack Stoudt this week. We'll let him start the game, and then we'll see how everything else flows."

Brunetti started against BYU, a 14-13 loss, but was replaced by Stoudt late in the first half. In his first drive, he led Ole Miss on its first scoring drive, capped by a 20-yard field goal by kicker Bryson Rose.

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

"I guess I was surprised I didn't really have any butterflies," Stoudt said. "I knew I was going to get in. I didn't know when and I didn't know how long. But I knew I was going to get a shot, and I knew since this is a big quarterback battle that's been going on for a long time, that I needed to make the best of my opportunity. I didn't really have time to be nervous or butterflies or get comfortable. I needed to be comfortable right when I went in.

Zack Stoudt
Chuck Rounsaville

"I went in with a good attitude and a good tempo. Luckily Enrique (Davis) busted a couple of runs, Jeff (Scott) busted a run, Jeff busted a screen, and we kind of just got rolling. I guess the confidence of the huddle kind of gave me confidence, and we all were just kind of flowing."

Stoudt met the media earlier in the day, prior to Nutt naming him as his starting quarterback. He wasn't sure if he was going to earn his first career start. However, he was talking like a starter. Stoudt said the team gave the game to BYU more than the Cougars won it.

"We looked at the tape, and we beat ourselves," he said. "We lost that game. I think that was the worst part. That's also the best part. We didn't get beat. We make a catch, we make a block, we hold onto a ball, 10 or 15 little mistakes, it completely changes the outcome of the game.

"We looked at those yesterday and we'll learn from them. Just prepare this week for Southern Illinois."

The 6-foot-4, 217-pound Stoudt transferred to Ole Miss from Iowa Western Community College in January, where he passed for 1,812 yards and 18 touchdowns and led Iowa Western to a 9-2 record.

Monday, his teammates praised Stoudt's confidence and poise. Ole Miss struggled to field any semblance of a passing attack when Brunetti was in the game. Stoudt sparked the team, though the Rebels finished with no touchdown drives.

"He's pretty intense out there. I like the way he played," offensive lineman Bradley Sowell said. "He came in there and he embraced his shot. Once he got it, he did well, man. There was one point in the game I went up to him and I was like, ‘Keep doing this. Keep doing what you're doing, ‘cause you're leading this thing.' He was moving.

"He looked good to me out there. Seeing those balls fly down the field reminded me of when Jevan (Snead) was doing real good. He was making some good passes. Couple of times he made some bad throws but not many. He was on point. I was happy about that. It was good."

Junior running back Devin Thomas, who will likely split time with Scott in place of injured running backs Brandon Bolden and Davis, was also impressed with Stoudt.

"I felt like he played real good, to say it was his first game in the SEC. He played pretty well, and he stepped it up a lot, even though he had one little fumble. But that's on all of us. I feel he really played good.

"When he was in there, he was demanding. He gets your attention. You got to pay attention. He's a leader. He's a leader. Even if he doesn't know it, he is."

Zack Stoudt
Bruce Newman

Stoudt has never lacked confidence. He'll say as much. He was one of the top high school quarterbacks in Ohio, leading perennial power Dublin Coffman. Over his career, he threw for 3,547 yards and completed 65.5 percent of his passes.

"I think you have to," be confident, he said. "At quarterback, you can't really be shy. Even if you are, you have to overcome it and be the quarterback. That's what I tried to do, and I know those guys would've completely given up on me if I ran into that first play and called it timidly. I'm playing for those guys, so I just tried to be what they wanted me to be."

"His strength is his arm," Nutt said. "He studies the book, knows the book. A little older. You can tell he's had a few snaps in his college career, coming from a JUCO. Didn't get rattled, and knows where to go with the football right now. I think that's the biggest difference between him and Barry."

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