Houston Nutt postgame

The following is Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt's postgame press conference after the Rebels' 34-10 win over Samford.

Nutt: Always good to win. Always. They're precious. If you look across the country, in a two hour and 45 minute time frame there are teams that beat somebody they're not supposed to beat. That's how crazy this game can be, especially when you're dealing with 18, 19, 20 year olds. Bottom line, after a rocky start our offense put together some really impressive drives. Jevan was a little off tonight for whatever reason. The ball was sailing on him a little bit. Normally those passes are completed. I have no doubt Kent and Jevan will get that worked out starting tomorrow. There were some running lanes in there. That's what we wanted to do. They overpopulated a lot with some blitzes, some movements. I thought Cordera ran hard. Enrique and all those guys ran hard. But we had to put together some drives and we had to mix it up passing wise, so we put in some four wideouts and three wideouts and tried to keep them off balance as well. I was pleased with how the second and third quarters went. I like the way we put together some drives. The kickoff team was the only thing I was really disappointed in tonight. They relaxed that one time and let that one out of the gate there.

Q: You said you were looking for overall improvement and execution. Did you get that?

Nutt: I did. I thought our offensive line was more physical I saw some running lanes I haven't seen. We were really going to do a little bit more, but it gets a little scary. John Jerry goes down. Dexter goes down. We stuck to two running plays and just hammered those. Really thought our guys got physical. Jevan got us some throws to Michael Wallace and Shay Hodge and Lionel Breaux. We started one drive there on our minus 6-inch line and threw the ball to get us out of a hole. We're not afraid to throw it back there backed up. I thought our pad level was better. Did a good job creating some more holes we haven't had the last couple of weeks.

Q: What finally woke the team up?

Nutt: I tried to tell them we had a real ballgame after that first quarter. Things were kind of rocky there. We were flopping around and laying the ball on the ground and having to recover it. Thank goodness for Jason Cook recovering that ball. If you give a team like that a couple of gifts, you can have a long night. Y'all have seen that here. But we jumped on them and Marshay gave us a pump in the arm with the punt return. We really needed that. We just have to keep getting better. You have to respect every opponent nowadays. You really do.

Q: Evaluate the running backs.

Nutt: I thought Cordera Eason really ran hard tonight. He ran behind his pads and protected well for us. Overall with his knowledge and experience, he's probably a little bit ahead of everybody. So we've got to depend on him. Brandon Bolden is a tough freshman that you're not afraid to put in the game. Same with Enrique Davis. Cordera Eason really took coaching from Derrick Nix and really ran hard.

Q: Talk about Marcus Tillman's move from DT to DE.

Nutt: Marcus played hard. Without watching the film, what really stood out was I see Peria getting better. The rust is off. You can see him getting better and better each series. It helps to have experience. You have Peria in the middle. Ted Laurent. Tillman's been so steady. Hopefully soon we'll have Greg Hardy back. We're rolling Lawon Scott. We're rolling Emanuel Stephens. They're playing faster when you're able to do that. It really helps us.

Q: Cordera had a fumble. Where is he with his protection of the ball? Are you comfortable with where he is?

Nutt: I am. He's been ball conscious. He's protected it very well. Again we lucked out tonight because Jason Cook hustled to the ball. Good things happen when you go to the ball and help your teammates. Cordera has been very ball conscious.

Q: Is your defense ready for the SEC?

Nutt: Got no choice now. Got no choice. Got to be. Got to be. If you go back to week one, we're really improved. We're playing faster, and now we've got to be at our best. Our guys realize it's two chin straps all the way buckled now.

Q: After practice on Thursday I saw Enrique was kind of waiting for you after practice. Was there anything going on with him?

Nutt: Everything was good. He just asked about a particular play. He's doing the right things. He's very conscientious of wanting to improve. That particular conversation you're talking about was I asked him to wait for me after practice because he was trying to make a move in the hole throughout the day. I told him you don't make moves going toward the hole. You get through the hole. You break glass. You get to the second level and then you make a move. That's what that conversation was about.

Q: After three games is this team where you thought it would be, or behind or ahead?

Nutt: I really didn't know what to expect. After eight months, you don't know how they'll play when the lights come on. They're doing some things better than I thought they would. Some other things worse than I thought they would, if that makes any sense. Some penalties. We didn't hit a guy out of bounds tonight. That was a horse collar. Just wanted to make sure that was clear. We threatened them all week that they'd better not hit anybody out of bounds in this game. Just things like that. We've got to be a smarter football team. Overall they've bought in and accepted change. Change is hard. Some of them are going through their third system. That's hard. I've been proud of their attitude and how they really want to be together and have one heartbeat, and so I've been proud of them.

Q: Talk about your confidence in Joshua Shene.

Nutt: He's been one of our most consistent kickers. We're not afraid to put him on the field anytime you get to the 33-34 yard line. We feel we've got three there. He's been consistent. We'll need him now as we enter SEC play. Very proud of him. I thought Rob also punted the ball well. Had some hang time.

Q: Entering SEC play, what's your biggest area of concern?

Nutt: You know you're going into another level. This is a highly-competitive league. Anyone can beat anyone. My major concern is probably making sure all our bases are covered. Special teams wise that we don't give anybody a gift in that area. And I worry about depth – depth in the secondary, depth in the offensive line. Can't get anybody hurt. You ask about one concern, and obviously there is more than one. But I would say special teams and depth.

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