Dexter McCluster struggled through Saturday night, but the one-day rule on getting over setbacks was significant therapy when Sunday rolled around.
From that point forward, Florida was the main and only focus.
McCluster, who coughed up a controversial fumble near the end of a 23-17 loss to Vanderbilt, didn't watch the replay of the fumble. However, the encouragement coming in its aftermath has been a blessing according to the Florida native.
"I haven't seen it, but the referee called it a fumble, so it is a fumble in the books now," McCluster said. "It's been tough, it's been hard, but my teammates have been encouraging me and telling me to keep doing what I'm doing."
Accentuating positives has been a goal for Ole Miss this week. The Rebels (2-2, 0-1) moved the football and played a solid 60 minutes of defense against the now-No. 21 Commodores, but miscues and turnovers killed the chance at the upset.
Getting back on track offensively, while continuing to improve defensively are the talking points with a visit to Florida looming.
"Our defense did a hell of a job and really played well," McCluster said. "The offense has to step up and do more. You have to work hard and keep doing what we do. Focus and preparation. We know they are a good team, but we are a good team when we get started.
"Once we do make that step and win one of these big games, it's going to feel even better that we knew what we had to do and the mistakes we were making and we corrected them and it's going to make it that much better."
The 11:30 a.m. (CDT) kickoff can't come quickly enough for McCluster, but he is comforted by the faith from the coaching staff. Mistakes at critical times can linger for weeks, but he has received the support necessary to move forward.
"It means a lot because someone can easily shutdown after something like this," McCluster said. "That is something I don't want to do because I have to set an example for other members of the team that look up to me. It can't overwhelm me. That would mess up my game, my play and my focus. To have that trust from other people around me, including Coach Nutt, it means the world."
McCluster understands that his forearm strength can be improved as well as other measures to better his ball handling. But that is just Dexter's mindset – anything to get better and in turn help the team.
Nutt won't shy away from his playmaker. In fact, he wants the ball in McCluster's hands more. Whether in the Wild Rebel or with a reception downfield, McCluster makes the Rebels go.
"You have to play hard every play," McCluster said. "You never know when one play will change the game. Whatever to help the team."
Dexter McCluster -
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