On To SEC Play

Houston Nutt seemed to feel like a lot of fans felt after Ole Miss' 42-24 win against Southern Illinois. Glad for the win, but not totally happy with the performance.

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"The way they played their first game," he said of the Rebels' defense, "I was very proud, excited, encouraged. I thought there were times yesterday we didn't play at that standard we've got to play. We've got to do a much better job this week."

Offensively being without the top two backs continues to cause problems.

"On offense you don't expect not to have Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis, two senior guys. It really hurts you. You have to go a little bit different with Korvic Neat and Jeff Scott, a little bit smaller backs, who would be used in different roles as you have in Enrique Davis and Brandon Bolden. But it is what it is. So you've got to have Jeff Scott, Korvic Neat, and Devin Thomas basically getting the load of your offense."

Nutt said he didn't have an update on the status of Davis for this week.

"No. Not yet," he said.

Nutt likes what he's seen from Zack Stoudt at quarterback.

"He's stood in there and thrown the ball very well to our receivers and under some duress at times," he said. "Protection hasn't been great at times, but he's found a way, knowing that you're going to get hit, stays in that pocket. We've got a long way to go, but I like the way the quarterback position is right now. Everybody's got to get better, from the offensive line, tight ends, receivers, backs. Everybody's got to keep getting better."

Nutt said freshman Aaron Morris could get some playing time along the offensive line.

"That's the one guy that will continue to get more reps, whether it be a guard or a tackle," he said. "He's outstanding; you're just trying to teach him the playbook."

Nutt said the Rebels came out of the Southern Illinois game OK as far as injuries.

"We came out pretty good last night," he said. "Everybody seemed to be ready to go today, just watching them walk in the weight room. Everybody seems to be good."

Now he takes his team to Nashville to face a 2-0 Vanderbilt team that has wins against Elon and UConn. The Rebels have lost four of their last six games against Vanderbilt. Since Nutt has been head coach at Ole Miss, his teams have lost both times in Oxford against the Commodores but beaten them the only time they've met in Nashville.

"They're a team that's playing very hard with a lot of confidence at 2-0," Nutt said. "They're a lot like last year where their defense plays extremely hard. They're in the right spots. Offensively they've got an athletic quarterback, a good running back, a good receiver. So they look very familiar and they're not making mistakes. They're finding ways to win."

Zack Stoudt
Chuck Rounsaville

Nutt was quizzed about why the Commodores seem to have success against Ole Miss. He said playing Vanderbilt earlier in the season seems to be a positive for the Commodores.

"I think this, that they're always fresh early. They don't have near the injuries. If you look at October and November, it seems like they don't have depth a lot of teams do. They seem to get hurt more toward October and November. If you go back in history, this is the one game they think they're going to win, for whatever reason. It goes way back before I got here, just looking at the history of the scores. The scores are extremely close and Vanderbilt's won some games throughout the years.

"It's going to be a very intense first SEC game for both clubs. No question."

Nutt said he has to make sure his team is mentally ready for the SEC road, and he believes that will happen.

"The good thing is we're coming off a win. When you look at the film and you see you scored 42 points, you look at how many times we stopped ourselves. It could have been 60. Defensively you look at the way you played the first two games and the turnovers you got with five interceptions. We had six total all last year. We're not giving up points in the red zone near as fast. That's really positive. If you look at bits and pieces of each quarter, we can be a good football team.

"But we've got to put it all together. We've got to do it on the road, and we've got to have a real focus. It's an important week."

More Nutt Notes:

On what winning the SEC opener would mean:

"It means everything. It's so important. Puts you at the top. Win one this early and it gives you all kinds of momentum, confidence, the whole bit. I think our guys realize how close they are to being 2-0. That's what hurts. On the road now in the SEC against a good, quality football team, the team that makes the fewest mistakes is the team that's going to win. So you've got to execute and be conscientious of getting everything right this week."

On Zack Stoudt fumbling the ball two times in two games in key situations:

"The biggest thing is to be ball conscious. Nobody hates it more than he does. You can't have the ball slip out of your hand. You just can't do it, have turnovers at a critical time. You have to stay away from disasters, which Coach (David) Lee preaches every day."

On Tyler Campbell's continued success, pinning the Salukis inside their 6-yard line three times Saturday night:

"He's been outstanding and really helped us with field position. He's helped us pin the opponent deep and given us hangtime when we needed it. He's just been an awesome weapon for us. His hard work is paying off. He's a very dedicated young man that's helping us win."

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