Nutt: 'It's finally game week'

The following is Coach Houston Nutt's first game week press conference at Ole Miss.

Houston Nutt: We're excited. It's finally game week. We gave them off today to be a student. They were only supposed to come over here if there was treatment involved. Otherwise enjoy the day as a student, sit in the first three rows, turn in your homework, all those things. Then get ready to have a real good practice tomorrow. We had a real good camp. I was really proud of our camp. Besides two or three pretty good injuries, it was really good. Guys gave a lot of effort and we got a lot of things done. Now it's time to put that on the field and get ready for game time.

Q: What are your impressions of Memphis?

Nutt: Memphis has had a lot of success the last several years. They've got a lot of confidence. They've got some very good athletes at wide receiver. Their quarterback, coming from a junior college, you don't know that much about, but apparently he's very athletic. Likes to run the ball and to throw. They also have a thrower in Huggins. Defensive line I know about both those guys, McDonald and Freddie Barnett. Of course Freddie we actually signed. They're athletic. All you have to do is look at the score the past few years between Ole Miss and Memphis and realize the rivalry, the competitive spirit is there. It will be a tough, hard-fought ballgame.

Q: Are you worried about some of those key injuries your team has now?

Nutt: You always hate to lose your starters. But that's a part of football. We've been really proud of the guys who have stepped up. We tell them they are one play away. That's why when you're standing on that sideline there needs to be a mental rep that's going on. You never know when your name or number is going to be called. The only thing I worry about is the 11 we put on the field.

Q: How equipped is your defensive line, especially with injuries to the first-teamers and having to depend on some second-teamers, to handle Memphis' offensive line?

Nutt: I feel pretty good about our defensive line as far as where we are and how good a shape we're in. The second group has come a long way, especially the last seven or eight days. I think Jerrell Powe has come a long way. Everybody asks about him. He's been away from football a long time. He's gotten in better shape and improved. I've been really pleased with our second group from Garrett Ryan to Justin Smith, a true freshman who has had a good camp and shown maturity, proud of him. Chris Bowers coming back from that injury and is a guy who has played a lot of snaps. I'm excited about our second group.

Q: You've got five running backs listed. Can you realistically expect to play all five of those?

Nutt: Cordera Eason will be in their first. If you've done research on me, you'll know we've done this quite a bit. It's just not for show, you just don't ever know. We know Cordera will go in first. Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis will be next depending on the situation. I have a lot of confidence in Derrick Davis and Devin Thomas. All I know about these freshmen is what I've seen in three weeks. All of them have strengths. We're going to play to those strengths. We'll see how the flow of the game goes. They have to be ready. Some sets we'll have three backs in the backfield. When you see all their names – Derrick, Devin, Enrique, Brandon, Cordera – there's a reason. We're planning on playing them. It could be kickoff return. It could be maybe one set. But we have a plan for these guys to play. You just don't know when. We just know who is going to start.

Q: Who are some guys who have stepped up since spring?

Nutt: Ashlee Palmer, Emmanuel Stephens, Gerald Harris, Kendrick Lewis, Dustin Mouzon, Lawon Scott, those come to mind first.

Q: How confident are you in Jevan Snead?

Nutt: I have a lot of confidence in Jevan. Jevan had a good camp. He had a good spring. Threw the ball extremely well. He's gotten much more comfortable with the offense, handling himself very well, getting us in and out of formations and just the flow of traffic from the sideline to the huddle. He's worked with the new 40-second clock. Some of these things people take for granted. But just calling one play and getting 11 people in and out of the huddle. You've got to be a good director. Now he's got to be a good director when the lights come on. To answer your question, I have a lot of confidence in Jevan as does Kent Austin.

Q: Talk about the Memphis-Ole Miss rivalry and if you would like to see it continue beyond next season.

Nutt: I don't have much to do with scheduling. That's done far in advance. You just go by what's on that schedule. I like playing Memphis. I love the rivalry. We're close to each other. I think it's good, good for college football. But again I don't have that much to do with it. I just go with what's on the schedule. I'm excited about this first game being against Memphis, though.

Q: What do you know of Tommy West and his teams?

Nutt: I've kept up with them from afar. Reggie Herring, who used to be a part of my staff, always talked very highly of Tommy. His teams compete very hard and he's done a good job wherever he's been. I have a lot of respect for Tommy.

Q: How many freshmen may you play and how many may redshirt?

Nutt: I think there will be close to seven or eight that contribute, either special teams or position. We'll know more in a couple of weeks.

Q: Talk about Patrick Trahan.

Nutt: Patrick wasn't here this summer. He had a lot of work to do and did a good job getting eligible. I'm proud of that. He's had a good camp. Then only obstacle he had was that he hasn't been in good shape. Not his fault. He was busy doing a lot of other things as far as trying to get eligible. He's really improved. He's probably come the furthest. He's so talented. He's not starting. He'll play a lot of football for us. He'll be on the opening kickoff. He'll be on special teams. He'll play very, very soon and get in the mix earlyon. You love his athleticism. He's really picked up things and gotten better. The only thing was he didn't have Coach Decker's program in the summer, but that's the only part he's been behind. He's coming.

Q: Are you nervous about that opener and worry you might have forgotten something?

Nutt: We all get a little bit nervous. The butterflies haven't quite kicked in just yet. They will. You're always thinking "Did I cover that?" And you probably have 2,700 times and need to do it two more times. But you always go to bed thinking did we cover this fake punt enough, or did we cover the onside kick enough, or did we cover this special situation. I always ask the coaches to give me the weirdest situation you've ever encountered. You always have those worries and concerns, "Did I cover everything?"

Q: What do you believe Saturday will be like for you, The Grove, the stadium, coaching in a new program for the first time, etc?

Nutt: Going to be very, very exciting. I'm already feeling it. Just talked to several students, including my daughters, who were in line to buy tickets. That's what excites you, the energy, the passion about the game of football, especially at your new place, your new school. We'll be awfully excited. Butterfiles will really be kicking off right there getting off that bus. But there's nothing like it. It's awesome.

Q: Talk about Marcus Tillman.

Nutt: Marcus is quiet but I love his personality and demeanor. You know what to expect from Marcus. It's very consistent. He's a great listener. Coach Rocker says this all the time. "I only have to tell him once." You love that. When you only have to tell a young man once what to do, it's a great feeling. He really picked things up when Ted and Greg and Peria went down. He said "I'm stepping up." Not a rah-rah guy but he's business. He's been awesome."

Q: You've talked for months about the team attitude and changing the culture of losing to winning. How has that gone?

Nutt: We've hit that pretty good. You depend on your seniors. Jamarca Sanford has stepped up. Ashlee Palmer. Michael Oher. Darryl Harris. Peria Jerry. They've done a good job of accepting what we're trying to teach. One heartbeat. Finishing. Finish everything you do. These guys have carried that out. We haven't been under the lights yet, haven't played a game yet. You can only go by what you see, and they've really embraced what we've tried to teach. They've had great attitudes. You really appreciate that as a coach. I'm anxious to see them play.

Q: Fans talk about their expectations and even express what they believe will be a certain number of wins and losses. Do you do that yourself?

Nutt: No question. Before the season, we sat in here and go through a book that I give them about the roadmap and the things that we want to do. We just talk about it among ourselves with the doors shut. This is what we expect. This is what we expect in the classroom. This is what we expect in the weight room. This is what we expect in study hall. It's about doing what's right when nobody's looking. To me those things carry over on third and one, third and seven. It's about a togetherness and sacrifice and not caring who gets the credit. There are high expectations. I want to take these seniors where they've never been. Our coaches want to take these seniors where they've never been. We want them to experience a bowl game. They deserve it because of the price they've paid. We don't talk about a number of games to win, but we take it one day at a time. But we talk about our goals and that's important.

Q: You've accomplished a lot as a coach. Do you and your staff feel again you have something to prove here?

Nutt: It's not so much having something to prove. It's how much you love this game. How much you can make a difference in a young person's life. How you want to build this team. That's what we spend all our time doing. One goal: How can we get better today? If we sit around wanting to prove this or that, then we're wasting a lot of energy. It's about this team. It's about Ole Miss. It's about being the best we can be.

Q: Is Jerrell Powe going to start Saturday?

Nutt: No. He's second team.

Q: What are your thoughts on the new 40-second play clock which basically starts when the previous play is blown dead.

Nutt: I'm ready for them to stick with one. Seems like every year we change that. But with that being said, the 40-second clock and the study we've had with it, it's about like a 25-second clock. When they spot that ball and that clock starts, it almost times out like a 25-second clock, if that makes sense. We've worked hard on it and don't see a problem with it.

Q: How important to rebuilding this program is getting off to a good start this season?

Nutt: Nothing like it. Nothing like a celebration in that locker room. It makes everything a little bit better. It makes practice better. It gives you more confidence. Everything starts with that. It's important.

Q: You said in the spring you had some DB concerns, especially corner. How has that gone?

Nutt: They've worked really hard. I'm really proud of them. Cassius Vaughn, Dustin Mouzon, Marshay Green, Jeremy McGee, Marcus Temple. They've worked hard. Now it's time to go play. I think our front will really help them. They've just got to keep on coming and play ball.

Q: Are you going to use the Wild Rebel formation Saturday?

Nutt: I don't know if I should answer that. I've got to have an advantage on that deal just a little. We're still working on it. I think it's a good formation. I'd rather just hold it and see. I don't want to answer that.


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