Improving Though Losing

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt said his team is getting better even though it's still losing. The Rebels are now 1-3 on the season, 0-2 in Southeastern Conference play, and a road game to Fresno State up next.

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"After watching film, grading and evaluating everybody, I really thought we played extremely hard," he said. "We've got to continue the same theme I keep talking about, and that's you can't make mistakes. We're making just enough mistakes along with getting a couple of touchdowns called back, and it's too hard to overcome."

Miscues are a problem for the Rebels.

"We made too many mistakes to overcome them," Nutt said. "We've got to execute and we can become a good offense. The kicking team was outstanding. Excited about our level of enthusiasm and passion, and we've got to continue that to get better.

"We've got to execute, everybody take care of their job without a mistake, and I think we can become a good offense. Our special teams have been outstanding, and we've got to keep that going. They've been playing with a passion and a lot of enthusiasm. They've helped us."

But how does a team that doesn't seem to be on par with almost any in its own league raise its level of play? It starts with what Nutt said he saw in Saturday's 27-13 loss to Georgia.

"I was excited about the level of enthusiasm, the passion, the energy we had," he said. "And we've got to continue with that and continue to get better."

Nutt knows the Rebels' ground game hasn't been what it needs to be for his team to succeed. It all started unraveling a bit in the first quarter of the first game when Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis got hurt, along with Jeff Scott who returned that game.

"We really haven't quite adjusted yet, and (the running game) is something we could put our hat on and something we relied on and that we depend on," Nutt said. "We've got to have a running game. Feel like Enrique should be closer to full speed this week. There's Devin Thomas, and of course Jeff Scott is playing very well. Brandon keeps coming. Hopefully we're going to get back to where we have our backs."

Jeff Scott
Chuck Rounsaville

Up this week is Fresno State in California Saturday night. The Rebels, 4-8 last season, had one of their best games against the Bulldogs in Oxford in a 55-38 win. Ole Miss led 41-10 at one point in the contest.

"We were just hitting it, hitting on all cylinders," Nutt said. "That was a good night. We played a very good football team, and we do again this year."

Fresno State is 2-2 with losses to California and Nebraska and wins against North Dakota and Idaho.

More Nutt Notes

On the team's confidence: "After talking to them and watching them Sunday, I feel good about them. Naturally you gain confidence by winning and with success. It's hard when you don't have success. You keep working to achieve that."

On Fresno State: "They have an excellent quarterback. They have a very fast receiver, a good tailback. You know they're going to be hard-nosed. They're going to run the ball physically. They're wide open. Throw some good balls and some very precise routes. They're an outstanding football team. They gave Nebraska all they wanted, and they're playing with a lot of confidence."

On how recruits are handling Ole Miss losing games: "The ones that I've talked to, they've been really good, especially the ones that are committed. They're very firm, staying with us, believe in us. A lot of them were here Saturday, excited, loved the atmosphere. What I'm saying to them is that if you look at the ones that are playing, we're not afraid to play a freshman. You've got a great opportunity. Good things are going to happen here. Hang in there with us. We're getting a lot of good feedback, a lot of positives. What's good is when they call you, too. I think that's a real sign of a relationship and that they're very, very interested in Ole Miss and what we have going."

On the long distance to travel this week: "We're full steam ahead and looking forward to a great trip. Great preparation this week. Gonna play in a beautiful stadium, brand new turf. I've never been there. I'm looking forward to it. There can't be any distractions, no talk about the three different time zones. None of that has anything to do with it. Let's get ready and play."

On Nick Brassell: "Nick was an exciting, fun player to watch last Saturday. I think he's really coming into his own. He's getting comfortable, not only at the defensive back position where he's playing 12 to 15 plays a game on defense, but on offense the same amount. I just see things going up for him. More plays. He's an explosive player on offense and punt returns or kick returns, whatever it may be. And also defending their best receiver. I think his role will continue to improve and we'll put more on him."

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