Houston Nutt postgame

The following is Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt's postgame press conference after the Rebels lost to South Carolina 31-24 in Oxford on Homecoming.

Nutt: We've just got to do a better job. Again, something bad happens. They pick up a fumble and run it in. I could tell our sideline, our energy right there was a lot different than it was the first 15-16 minutes, or whenever that happened. And of course Dexter's turnover, boy that hurt. Again, it's those things where we're beating ourselves. It's not so much anything else. To me the whole thing is we hurt ourselves. I like the way we came out to play. I thought we were ready. I thought that last game was behind us. Mentally, I thought that first drive was to make a statement, taking the opening kickoff and driving down to score, that's what we really needed to start the game off against a very, very good defense. That's the frustrating thing. Some little something doesn't go just right. You spend a lot of energy saying ‘Hey, it's OK. It's allright. It's the next play.' That's what's tough. That's where we've got to get to.

Q: Did South Carolina do anything differently defensively in the second half?

Nutt: No. I thought we moved the ball up and down the field. We just stopped ourselves. That fumble really hurt us, when were driving right there getting ready to score. That was the biggest turnaround right there when we were getting ready to score.

Q: Smelley really hurt you guys.

Nutt: He did. I didn't think they'd go up and down the field on us like that. That's surprising. They had some big plays. On the first wheel route, I know we had busted coverage on that. You can't give up that. Their receivers caught the ball and he threw it well. But I thought we'd be better than that.

Q: Your defensive line did not appear to get the pressure it did against Florida.

Nutt: Without watching the film, it looked like they did a great job of protecting. There wasn't that much pressure. We got a couple of sacks. But give credit to them.

Q: Was Greg Hardy hurt?

Nutt: No, he's not hurt. You just try to keep everybody fresh and try to keep them going.

Q: What was Peria's injury?

Nutt: Same elbow. He plays with pretty good pain. It's that hyper-extended elbow.

Q: How do you stop the fumbles?

Nutt: We've got an open date and we'll spend all week. It's about turnover margin. When you don't have turnovers you win. When you go back and look at it, there hasn't been one team that's beat us. When you look at the turnover margin, we beat ourselves. You just can't do it. Not in this league. It's too tough and the yards are too tough to earn. Got to work real hard on protecting the ball. I know Dexter is trying to get every yard he can, giving that second effort and all those things. Love his heart. But we've got to protect.

Q: What's Dexter doing inside the 5?

Nutt: He's a guy that's going to get everything he can, reach out, extend, dive, whatever it takes to get another yard. When you do that, the ball comes away from the rib cage. That's when you'll have problems. Got to keep it locked in with three points of pressure. We've got to put a real emphasis on that. And don't be afraid to go down every now and then. You've got the first down. Stop. Get down. But it's hard when he's such a competitor. He's always competing.

Q: How can you have better pass defense?

Nutt: That's one of the first things we talked about when I got here. We're very thin there. We've got to rush better. It's 11-man football. We've got to play the ball better with our eyes, got to rush better, drop better, tackle better. They hit a couple of runs I didn't think they would. That's what bothers you the most. They hit a few runs and get some first downs. They had us off-balance a little bit. We've just got to do a better job, got to keep working.

Q: What happened on Jevan's fumble?

Nutt: Just go down. Go down right there; throw it away. He's still trying to find somebody, but the ball is out here away from his body. That's a young, bad mistake right there in a crowd under pressure. Go down. Take the sack or throw it away. Jevan's done a good job. Started out on fire today. The only thing I want him to do is protect the ball. When the pocket collapses I want him to take the sack or throw it away. Protect it. If he does that he'll be fine. This is just his sixth game. He's going to be allright. He's going to be OK.

Q: Is the open date at a good time?

Nutt: It's locked in. I don't have anything to do with it. I'd love to keep playing, but we're going to take advantage of it. We'll work hard this week and get better.

Q: Dexter gets everything he can out his talent. How do you teach him to channel it?

Nutt: It's tough. It's hard to put clamps on a guy like that. The thing we're going to put emphasis on is when you're in a crowd and know you're ready to get hit, protect the ball. That's the most important thing.

Q: Their 95-yard drive was impressive.

Nutt: They did a great job executing. You've got to give it to them. They did a very good job using all their receivers and mixing in a draw. When you've got that balance, and we're off balance a little bit, it's tough to zero in on one. Then they take advantage of you with the height of the receivers and tight ends. It's pretty good.

Q: Outside the Wild Rebel, do you feel the running game took a step back?

Nutt: No. The only thing I'd like to take away from this is let's don't give the ball away. Our line was blocking pretty well. There were some good running lanes in there. You get behind and don't have much time, you've got to get down the field. And everybody knows you're going to throw. I don't like being in that situation.

Q: For us laymen, tell us about the three points of pressure.

Nutt: Eagle claw. Strongest finger on the tip of that ball. Forearm and ribcage. Eagle claw, forearm, and ribcage. If you do that, with those three points of pressure, it's not going to come out. But what happens is you start moving, shaking, reaching and that ball just gets out. One point of pressure off in this league, the ball's got a chance to come out. Got to have three points. We've got to do a better job coaching that.

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