Houston Nutt postgame

The following is Coach Houston Nutt's postgame press conference after Ole Miss' 23-17 loss to Vanderbilt in Oxford.

That was a tough loss to swallow right there because of the mistakes and missed opportunities. I thought we came out on a high. We were ready to play on defense. I thought they were outstanding most of the night. Had their best game of the year. Offensively I was disappointed because you have to score on the one-foot line. Really a lot of missed opportunities that could have put this game away early. Gave them a lot of good gifts tonight.

Q: Talk about Jevan Snead's performance.

Nutt: He didn't have a good game. Couple of bad decisions. Like we've been saying, he's got to get better. We've got to get better. He's better than that, and he'll be the first to tell you. But it's everybody. It's 11-man football. We've got to do a better job of staying out of third and long.

Q: Did you get a good look at Dexter McCluster's fumble that was recovered in the end zone and ended up being a touchback for Vanderbilt?

Nutt: I saw probably what you saw. I was hoping the ball was down. But I guess it wasn't.

Q: Talk about your offensive line tonight.

Nutt: We've got to do a better job protecting. But most of the sacks I'll bet if you go look back came on third down. You're playing uphill when it's third and nine, third and ten, third and eleven. Everybody in the world knows you're going to throw it. You're hoping those first two plays are better. Just a little bit out of sync, behind the eight ball. And then they pin their ears back and they're very quick on the edges. They do a good job.

Q: Looking back do you wish you had kicked the field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter when your team failed to score a touchdown?

Nutt: The offensive line felt they could move them back. Hindsight is 20-20, but that time of the game going that far and the way our defense was playing. (If you don't score) make them go 99. We did stop them, and we got the ball at the 50. But we fumbled the punt. It's easy to look back and say yes kick it. But I felt we could have moved the momentum on over to our side if we get seven right there.

Q: Jevan seems to be having more problems the past two games than the first two games. Is there anything y'all have identified that has led to his interceptions or ball protection?

Nutt: Give Vanderbilt credit. They're a good football team. They mixed up some things. Mixed up their blitzes very well. Bring safeties. Bring free safeties. Bring an outside linebacker. Kept us off balance. But if you look back it's third and nine, third and ten, and that's not our game. Everything moves faster that way when you have to throw off your back foot and things are hurried. It's not a good situation.

Q: Talk a little more about the defensive effort of your team.

Nutt: They played hard. They played extremely hard. They got turnovers for us. Gave us great field position. I was really proud of how hard they played. I thought they really chased the ball, stopped a really good quarterback and kept him off balance. Thought we stopped 31 for the most part until right at the end. But overall we did a good job.

Q: You're 2-2 and could be 4-0. Is there a process of learning how to win games for a program that has now lost nine SEC games in a row?

Nutt: It is. It is. Everybody talks about a lot of good talent, and there is. There are a lot of good players here. But we haven't won an SEC game in a long time. It's a mindset. We have to do a better job of coaching. No penalties, no foolish mistakes, no gifts. Can't help the other team. Not in this league. We could easily be 4-0. But we've got to keep getting better, and I've got to make sure they understand it's one step at a time and doing all the little things right.

Q: How difficult was the locker room after the game tonight?

Nutt: It was the toughest since I've been here. We expected to win. I thought we had them convinced we were going to win the game. Had great preparation. Tremendous attitude. What's important now is that we stay together. There will be a lot of people who will try to be negative and try to tear you apart. But they're not putting on the pads, they're not going through practice, they're not in the locker room. It's important you don't listen to outside voices. Stay together. Stay very close together. You still see a team that's come a long way. We're just missing a few little things, a few better decisions. One this quarter, one that quarter, and it's a different game and we're all happy. Just got to keep believing and keep working.

Q: There were 24 points scored in 53 seconds of the first quarter. Ever seen anything like that?

Nutt: I've seen it maybe twice before. But we've got an explosive team. Most of it was pretty good the first quarter. The kickoff return was awesome. The fumble recovery by Peria was awesome. But we've got to keep doing the little things better.

Q: Do you take losses like this personally? Do they affect you personally?

Nutt: Well I take it pretty serious. I'm hurting now. I don't know what you mean personally. This is your life. Besides my immediately family, this is it. So, I expected to win this one.

Q: What do you want the players and staff to learn from this?

Nutt: Just mistakes. Foolish decisions. Can't turn the ball over. Got to be better on the 1-yard line. Got too big a line not to be able to make a yard. Just that. Don't give away gifts.

Q: Talk about Greg Hardy tonight.

Nutt: Good to see him back. Really proud of his first game back. Still get better and get more as we go.

Q: Talk about the running game tonight.

Nutt: The running game is a lot better the last two weeks. Been proud of that. Got to do a better job. We've been counting on our passing game. Got to give Vanderbilt credit. Mixing up blitzes and coverages and keeping us in that third and long. That's what's tough. I don't like playing that game. They had the same problem. They're three out of 13 on third and long. It's hard to play that game in the SEC.

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