Back To The Drawing Board

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt's message this week as the Rebels prepare for Saturday's match against Auburn is "finish what you start." The Rebs didn't do that last week against Arkansas and it cost them in the end.

While some Rebel fans are still lamenting the golden opportunity that got away last Saturday when the Rebs led the ninth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks 17-0 but ended up letting the game slip away, the Rebels couldn't spend any time licking their wounds.

"We have to get back on the horse," said sophomore Center Evan Swindall. "We did a better job against Arkansas, but we didn't finish what we started and that is what Coach Nutt has been talking to us about since Saturday afternoon.

"It's all about 60 minutes of football and we have not done that this year. We've had games where we played well for a half or three quarters, but not all four quarters. We have to do that to win."

Nutt and the Rebels began their four-day journey of weekly preparation Tuesday afternoon on the practice fields under perfect conditions.

"We got what we wanted to get done today," said Nutt. "We were focused and they did a good job today, but we need to get better tomorrow.

"Before practice, my message to them was to play hard with passion and energy and put 60 minutes together like I know they can. Finish. I'll tell you one thing, we are going to come out of the halftime dressing room differently. We are going to figure that out."

Halftime adjustments and third quarter performance have been a major focus since the Arkansas game.

"When you are up 17-7, you don't want to adjust anything. We knew they would adjust to what we were doing, but there was nothing we wanted to change until they changed," he explained. "As a staff, we have to be prepared to adjust to their adjustments.

"In the third quarter, we didn't do a very good job of that. We had bad field position and we got a couple of bad calls. We were adjusting on the run, which is what we anticipated, but we didn't have many opportunities."

Nutt stands by his Monday comment that he can see improvement in his team.

"We made some holes for our backs, (Randall) Mackey has gotten better with each start, and our guys on the outside made plays," he noted. "I expect more improvement because we have now identified and developed our playmakers and we will keep getting the ball in their hands. We are going to work hard on stopping the run on the defensive side - we need improvement there."

Joel Kight
File Photo

Random Notes:

* No players who participated against Arkansas were absent Tuesday due to injury. There are a handful who aren't 100%, but they practiced. Of course, CB Marcus Temple and DE Wayne Dorsey, who were injured against Alabama, are out for the season. For two or three weeks, MLB Mike Marry would take Tuesday and Wednesday off due to plantar fasciitis, but in the past two weeks, he's practiced every day. Safety Brishen Mathews is still out with a bad back, but other than that, all hands were on board and working toward Auburn.

* There were a few depth chart changes going into the game with the Hogs and apparently the coaches were happy with the way they performed because all the previous moves have stuck. . . .On the defensive front, Uriah Grant is still at defensive end and defensive tackle and Jason Jones and Cameron Whigham are filling the void left by Dorsey. Also, this will be the third week in a row with Carlton martin and Bryon Bennett holding the top spots at DT . . . At linebacker, it appears Joel Kight is still starting next to Marry, but Serderius Bryant and Ralph Williams also figure in the LB rotation. . . Without Temple, Charles Sawyer is still at cornerback with Wesley Pendleton and Frank Crawford and Damien Jackson are the safeties. . . On the offensive front, freshman Aaron Morris at left guard and Swindall at center are still with the number one offense. . . Out wide, Nicholas Brassell and Donte Moncrief appear to have a firm grasp on the top spots with Ja-Mes Logan, Vincent Sanders and Tobias Singleton in the rotation.

* Graduation rates in the SEC were released and the Rebs are 11th in the SEC, some of those number not inclusive of Nutt's tenure. "We've done really well considering where we were when we got here to where we are now. We had APR problems when we got here and lost three scholarships," he said. "That cost us. We have turned that part of it and things are getting better. Our goal is to graduate them all."

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