Freshmen Focus

OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss lost 27-13 to Georgia Saturday. A lot of new faces are emerging for the Rebels. None moreso than freshman Nick Brassell.

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Brassell, one of the celebrated class who arrived in August, is seeing action at both wide receiver on offense and cornerback on defense. He's also a punt returner.

Brassell was much more involved in the Rebel offense Saturday against the Bulldogs, and it started early.

On the second offensive play of the game, it was Brassell on an end around for a gain of 14 yards. It was hoped to be a sign of things to come on that side of the ball for Ole Miss in this game, but that didn't prove to be the case. The Rebels had only 34 rushing yards the entire game to go along with 149 passing yards.

Ole Miss only scored two touchdowns on the day, and Brassell completed his trifecta of offense, defense and special teams by returning a punt 81 yards for a touchdown.

Jeff Scott fielded the punt and handed off to a streaking Brassell who raced the distance to cut the Georgia lead to 24-13 with 49 seconds to go before halftime.

"It was a great handoff by me and Jeff Scott," Brassell said. "You know we work on it a lot. When I got the chance, I saw a couple of guys in front of me. I just took off from there. I had it in my mind I was going to get to the end zone."

Brassell said it's what's on his mind anytime he gets his hands on the football.

Nick Brassell
Chuck Rounsaville

"Every time I touch it, I'm trying to get across that blue line," he said.

Brassell caught two passes for 52 yards, rushed the football once for 14, had the one punt return for the touchdown, and had one tackle on defense.

Brassell said the class that came in together this season is proving they are indeed something special.

"We knew the coaches recruited all of us for a reason," he said. "They knew we can make big plays. It's up to us to go out and do it. We came in working, and that should boost the older guys up, seeing the freshmen out there. We just try to get our team going in the right direction."

Effective Punts Galore

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said both punters put on a show in the contest. Ole Miss' Tyler Campbell, using both his booming style and his new-found running rugby style, punted nine times and averaged 51 yards. Three of his punts were inside the 20-yard line – one at the 1-yard line, one at the 11, and one at the 13.

"I've never seen two more excellent punters that helped each team pin the opponent deeper," Nutt said. "That's one of the reasons I thought we'd win this game, and that's Tyler for us. He was keeping ‘em back, back, back."

Georgia's Drew Butler only had to punt four times, and he averaged 55 yards. Two of his were inside the 20 – one at the 19 and one on the 1-yard line.

Campbell chuckled when told by a reporter that Nutt said he thought his punter might be the reason the Rebels won this one.

"I just try to flip the field and help the team as best I can. Do what I can to put us in the best position to win," said the junior from Little Rock, Ark.

The nation's top college punter last season, Campbell only broke out the running rugby style this season and said there's a reason for it.

"It was a part of the gameplan," he said. "Their returner was really good. We were trying to keep the ball away from him as much as possible."

He said he'd been working on the rugby style this year since he hadn't done it before.

"It's a little different kick," he said. "I just try to kick it harder when we have a longer field. This is my first year ever to rugby it. It's been working out really well."

Moncrief Scores Again

Freshman Donte Moncrief continues to be a real factor on offense this season. The wide receiver caught three passes for 68 yards including one for a touchdown from quarterback Randall Mackey.

The 38-yard completion was the Rebels' first score of the game and cut the Georgia lead to 17-7 in the second quarter. The play began with a shotgun snap to Jeff Scott who handed the ball to Philander Moore who then flipped it to Mackey. That's when the Rebel junior signal-caller found Moncrief for the score.

"That was a good lift for us. It helped us out," said Moncrief, now with two touchdowns this season. "It helped our offense with motivation. We've just got to have more of it."

Moncrief said now it's back to work to keep improving as a team.

"We've just got to keep on working," he said. "Gotta keep on practicing hard every day. We just gotta ball."

Stoudt Remains Upbeat About Offense

Junior quarterback Zack Stoudt was 9-for-23 for 71 yards with one interception and no touchdowns against the Bulldogs.

Zack Stoudt
Bruce Newman

Stoudt said the offensive struggles for the Rebels are not from a lack of effort, both in the games and during the weeks.

"We practiced great again this week. We practiced great last week," Stoudt said. "We've just got to put it together in the game. I think we surprise ourselves sometimes with the things we do."

Stoudt said mistakes are killing the team's efforts to put points on the scoreboard.

"We just shoot ourselves in the foot," he said. "A penalty on the first drive, holding, another holding call, dropping balls, missing protections, missing passes, missing catches."

Stoudt said the Rebels' offensive line was better against Georgia.

"I had a lot of time to throw, for the most part," he said. "Just sometimes didn't finish from my end or the receiver's end. But the protection was a lot better today."

Stoudt said the Rebels have had their good moments, just not enough of them.

"In every game this year, we've been able to move the ball and do things offensively," he said. "The plays are there. We just don't catch it or don't complete it or get a penalty, and we just bring it back."

Stoudt remains positive things are going to get better.

"Today was a huge improvement," he said as the team now prepares for a cross-country game next Saturday night at Fresno State. "We lost and we did some stupid things. But we did a lot of things much better than we did last week. So we're getting close."

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