Building On A Victory

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt said it's always better to practice and improve after a win than a loss. The Rebels are having that opportunity this week.

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"There's nothing like winning. Nothing like practicing after a win," he said Monday afternoon at his weekly press gathering. "That's the biggest thing you love to do, come in and watch the film and correct. Then go back out. We had a really good practice Sunday afternoon. We got some things corrected, and we're off to a good start against Vanderbilt."

It's a good thing, too. The Commodores and Rebels open Southeastern Conference play Saturday at 11:21 a.m. in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt has opened with two wins – against Elon University and last season's Fiesta Bowl loser Connecticut.

"Vanderbilt's a very good football team," Nutt said. "They play extremely hard. They're very confident. We've got to do a good job staying on our blocks offensively. We've got to execute. Their offense is doing well, too.

"They're a good team. They're real high. They're 2-0. We're looking forward to getting into SEC play."

Despite his team's 1-1 record and less than spectacular showing thus far in 2011, Nutt said it's time to focus on SEC play.

"We've got no choice but to be ready," he said. "Our offensive line, we depend on those guys. We've got to play better there, and they'll be the first to tell you. But everybody, tight ends, fullbacks, it's the whole unit that has to do a great job. Even with our (two running) backs down, I thought Jeff Scott, Korvic Neat, Devin Thomas really helped us. We've just got to keep improving and keep getting better.

"Plus they're rocking and moving. They're not just going to line up in one front. Lot of movement we've got to take care of. We're catching the ball better. Zack's doing a good job getting the ball to receivers. Our defense has got to keep doing a good job of getting turnovers for us and stopping them in the red zone."

With Zack Stoudt as the starter at quarterback again this week, Nutt said the Rebel coaches still like what they see from Randall Mackey.

Randall Mackey
Chuck Rounsaville

"The thing I feel really good about Randall is he's comfortable in the things that we give him," Nutt said. "He can throw and run. He can run option. He can do different things for us, so we're not afraid to put him in the game at a certain time. That helped him to get him with that many plays. He hadn't played in a long, long time. I'm confident in Randall, not afraid to put him in the game. I know Coach (David) Lee has confidence with him as well. But we'll start with Zack."

More Nutt Notes:

On the problems with the offensive line not doing as well as expected: "The problems have been just some missed things when people rock and move, blitz and stunt. Show you that they're blitzing, then come out of it. Some looks have just gotten us where we miss. When you miss, you have lost yardage plays. The way you correct it is to go practice those movements, those rocks, those stunts and blitzes and get ready and try to anticipate that, hey, here they come. You'd better get ready, because more and more people are going to challenge to see if you've worked to prepare those mistakes. That's the biggest thing."

On the acclimation level of the freshmen from high school to college: "I do (see them making a move). I've been really proud of them. Cody Prewitt has done a great job on special teams, is the second team safety, and is only going to get better. Keith Lewis, Sedarius Bryant, same thing. Tobias Singleton stepping up in a role when Jeff (Scott) gets an I.V. and he takes over that role on kickoff return and did an excellent job for us. Donte Moncrief continues to get better and better and better. You'll see more of Aaron Morris. He's going to be in on more plays, different situations, different plays and formations at either guard or tackle. We've got a good group of freshmen we've been ranting and raving about for a long time. Now they're starting to get better and feel the speed of the game."

On Aaron Morris' development: "He's smart. You work him at tackle and guard. It's a new offense (for him), a lot of terminology. With the protections we have and run blocking, it's a tough load for a true freshman. Most freshmen offensive linemen do not play. He's going to be an exception."

On the interceptions this season: "Coach (Keith) Burns has done an excellent job. Chris Vaughn (also). Both those guys have worked extremely hard on playing the ball with their eyes, being in the right position, breaking on the ball, lot of drill work. Now there's a belief and a confidence that when the ball is in the air, we're going to get it. That's exactly what those guys have going right now. When you play at that level of confidence, good things happen. They believe they're going to get interceptions and turnovers."

On Jason Jones' status with a knee injury: "He's gotten better. He practiced Sunday. We felt better last week toward the end, but we just didn't feel like he was totally ready to be put in a ballgame. He's getting a lot closer."

On the ability and stamina of Jeff Scott to be able to continue to rush the football, return punts and return kickoffs as SEC play begins: "That's a good question. We'll always start games like that. We want him with the ball in his hands. Philander Moore is another guy who has been working really hard that we'll get in the rotation at punt return. We have a lot of confidence in him. We mentioned Tobias Singleton. We're going to need those guys on ready. We'll try to keep Jeff going. It just kinda depends on his workload at the other positions."

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