Mackey Emerges

Junior quarterback Randall Mackey apparently did enough.

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A day after Mackey played all but one snap in Ole Miss' 38-28 win over Fresno State, head coach Houston Nutt said "it looks like" Mackey has earned the starting job outright moving forward, ending a three-man rotation at the position.

Mackey completed 8 of 18 passes for 214 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers in his first career start, and had 35 yards on the ground on five carries. Sophomore Barry Brunetti started the season opener against BYU, while Zack Stoudt started the previous three games prior to the win Saturday.

"I was just very proud of the way he executed," Nutt said of Mackey. "Thought he stood in the pocket very well, went through the reads, and when something did break down, took off and avoided the sack. Made some real big plays for us. Real proud of the way he played."

Ole Miss moved to 2-3 overall on the season. The Rebels are off this week, but return to action next Saturday against Alabama.

Nutt wasn't sure of the injury situation Sunday. The team arrived in Oxford at 8 a.m., and players were given a full day to recuperate. Nutt said players were to arrive back on campus at 5 p.m.

"I think it's really, really big; a time that we can take advantage of," Nutt said of the bye week. "Get everybody really completely healthy as we go into the teeth of the schedule. It always, I think, helps us, especially the ones that have been injured. Now they can get a little extra treatment, get a little extra rest and still be able to get some things done practice time this week to get better."

Randall Mackey
Bruce Newman

Nutt said the win Saturday was a much-needed sigh of relief for Ole Miss. The Rebels lost back-to-back Southeastern Conference games to Vanderbilt and Georgia before heading west for the second meeting ever with Fresno State.

"Definitely, it's much easier on the team. If you don't win that game, you could imagine what (the media) would write. Just the negativity," Nutt said.

"(The negativity) starts to get in your mind as a team. That's the one thing I was proud of. We got behind 7-0 (against Fresno State), 14-13, boy they kept fighting. That's a really good sign. Kept executing.

"To go that many miles and play a ball game, that big a travel and play that good of team that's been to a bowl for the, what, last 10 or 11 years straight? That was a huge, huge win for us, especially for your psyche, your mind."

A few players stood out Saturday, including freshman wide receiver Donte Moncrief, whose 57-yard reception on a screen pass late in the fourth quarter set up a 24-yard field goal by kicker Bryson Rose to seal the win.

Moncrief is second on the team in receiving yards with 207. He has 10 catches on the year.

"He really did show a tremendous burst on that screen. Big play for us," Nutt said of Moncrief. "He's made some big catches, boy. We saw it all the way through camp.

"Outstanding receiver. All those freshmen we've been very, very proud of. Donte's been very mature with his work ethic and his attitude. He's very unselfish, been a very good blocker down the field. He's a tremendous play-maker. He's going to be something special."

Another unsung hero was senior Alex Washington, who started at left guard for the first time this season. Ole Miss' offensive line had struggled mightily through four games. Patrick Junen started three games at the position, and true freshman Aaron Morris started in a loss to Georgia last week.

Ole Miss racked up 430 yards of total offense against Fresno State.

"Alex just gives you a little bit more knowledge and experience," Nutt said. "Aaron and Patrick Junen both are guys we're not afraid to put in the game. They're good players, they're just young. Alex has a little bit more experience. We just felt like he gave us the best chance in there consistently of doing what we needed to do."

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