Closing Time

Not since the first week in September has Barry Brunetti had a practice week like this one.

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Brunetti, a sophomore, was Ole Miss' starting quarterback in the season-opening loss to BYU. Over two months later, he's in line for his second start of the season to bookend a trying year for the Rebels, who are 2-9 overall and 0-7 in Southeastern Conference games.

Ole Miss travels to face in-state rival Mississippi State (5-6, 1-6 SEC) Saturday at 6 p.m.

"A lot more reps than I'm used to getting," Brunetti said of the practice week. "I'm kind of getting used to that. We've been going hard these last few days. We're very focused as a team and as a whole. We're going to go down and get this one for the coaches; let them leave with a bang."

Brunetti earned the starting nod after his performance Saturday against LSU, a game the Rebels lost 52-3. Brunetti replaced starter Zack Stoudt in the second quarter of the game, and finished 5 of 10 for 30 yards. He had a team-leading 74 rushing yards.

The quarterback duties were left to Brunetti and Stoudt due to starter Randall Mackey being suspended for the remainder of the season -- two games -- for violating team rules.

"It's kind of difficult, but if I didn't prepare myself these last few weeks when I was sitting down, then I would've hurt myself. But I prepared myself," Brunetti said.

Barry Brunetti
File Photo

"(Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks) Coach (David) Lee and (head) Coach (Houston) Nutt helped me prepare myself. I just got to come up with my conditioning, but I helped myself running after practice a lot when I wasn't practicing that much."

Brunetti said he has good chemistry with his receivers despite the lengthy time spent on the sidelines and lack of repetitions in practice. After practices, Brunetti would pull aside any receiver willing to play catch to stay sharp.

True freshmen wide receivers Donte Moncrief and Nick Brassell lead Ole Miss in receiving. Moncrief has 434 yards on the year and Brassell has 336.

"I still got good chemistry with the receivers, with Donte and Snoop (Brassell) and Collins (Moore), just by throwing to them every day in individuals," Brunetti said. "I was just throwing after practice with anybody who wanted to catch to help me stay conditioned."

Nutt will be coaching in his final game as Ole Miss head coach Saturday. Nutt was dismissed Nov. 7. Ole Miss is three weeks into its search for a new head coach.

A five-member search committee headed by former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning and Mike Glenn, executive vice president of Market Development and Corporate Communications for FedEx Corp, has been tasked with leading the search.

"I kind figured as a team, we're all auditioning for the new coach," Brunetti said. "But at the same time, we don't know who this guy is. We kind of want to get this win for the coaches that we got here and play for these coaches that have been with us since January. We want to win it for them."

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