Houston Nutt press conference

The following are Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt's comments from his weekly press conference on Oct. 13. The Rebels play at Alabama Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.

Nutt: Got started good yesterday in preparation for Alabama. Had a good offweek. Had some time to get better and healed up and get better fundamentally. Also got to get some freshmen some time. We face a real good ballclub as y'all know. Very talented. Very well-coached. They do a great job, especially on defense. They chase the ball. Do a very good job of not giving up anything big. Offensively they do a good job urnnung the football. They're very physical. Got a physical back. They've got an excellent receiver in Julio Jones. The guy who is the triggerman, John Parker Wilson, is a guy who doesn't make mistakes. He's a leader and he will execute. Add the special teams and you have a full day.

Q: Why did you kick Greg Hardy off the team? (An obviously sarcastic question to begin the press conference.)

Nutt: Great question. My phone blew up this weekend about his dismissal. His mom called me and wanted to know if it was true, and I said , "Absolutely not." I would call Greg first and then his mom. So all that didn't happen. He had his best week last week.

Q: In what manner did Greg have his best week?

Nutt: Practice. Practice. Working hard. Trying to get better. Attitude was very, very good. And he's doing fine.

Q: John Parker Wilson has been inconsistent the past two years but not this year. What has been key for him this season?

Nutt: I don't remember him being inconsistent, especially when I played him or watched him. He's always been a heck of a quarterback. He had us down last year, threw three touchdown passes right off the bat. Always been very accurate. Always done a good job handling the ballclub. He's got a good offensive line that knows how to protect him. They're a physical offensive line, so he can hand the ball off. And then there's the big play go, to guy Julio Jones.

Q: Can you compare anybody you've played to Terrence Cody.

Nutt: Nobody's like him. Guy that weighs that much and is still very agile. I mean a run stopper. Does a good job holding his gap. Not too many people have moved him. Just a good football player.

Q: How do you like your line against him?

Nutt: Got to do a great job, a great job of being physical. Better get your pads down. It's going to take a couple of our guys. We're going to need a couple of double teams every now and then on him.

Q: Talk about Bama's run defense.

Nutt: They're not giving up very many yards whatsoever. From Clemson, to Georgia, to Kentucky, haven't given up much. They do a great job really controlling their gaps first of all. They've got outstanding linebackers. Very big linebackers. Their safeties will fill in a hurry. Their corners are physical. They've got a very physical. Eleven people that are very physical. They know how to play the run. They know how to stop the run. We've got to do an excellent job of maintaining, keeping your feet and being extremely physical.

Q: What did South Carolina do offensively that exposed some things for you defensively?

Nutt: South Carolina was very hot. Smelley made some throws to two good wide receivers. When they do throw, we've got to get some pressure. Got to do a good job of playing the ball with our eyes. Those are things we know. We've just got to try to keep getting better. Keep getting better at the little things. The biggest thing is when we do apply pressure, we have to get there. Then our DBs have to do an outstanding job of playing the ball with our eyes and being in great position.

Q: Nick Saban has always been complimentary of you as a coach. What's your relationship with Saban and how far back does it go?

Nutt: We go back to when he first got to LSU. We don't spend that much time together. Each year we meet every year in Destin, and that's really where the relationship formed. We both have the same agent. So I've gotten to know him from when he got to LSU. Think a lot of him. Does a good job.

Q: Talk about the challenge of stopping a big receiver like Julio Jones.

Nutt: That's the toughest thing. A guy that can run. Stands 6-4 or 6-5. Knows how to handle his body when the ball is behind him. Jump balls. Crossing routes. Post corners. Goals. All those things you always worry about, especially when you smaller corners. So it's an outstanding weapon to have. We signed a guy like Melvin Harris who gives our defensive backs a great look every week. You can't coach height. He has it. You just have to do an outstanding job of when that ball comes down to be there to play it.

Q: You were disappointed in some runs South Carolina had against you. What were they doing?

Nutt: They got us a little bit off balance. Basically a draw. Nothing fancy to it. We were playing the pass and they hit us with a draw a couple of times. They bounced a power outside and we had the right call on. We missed a tackle there. You can't miss tackles. You have to be where you're supposed to be. The athletes are too good. They'll turn those four yard gains into 14 yard gains or 24 yard runs and you can't have that.

Q: How is Cassius Vaughn?

Nutt: He's going to be fine. He was there yesterday and ready to go.

Q: Was the open date at a good time?

Nutt: Sometimes I'd rather just play it all the way through. That's the way the schedule turned out, so you try to take advantage of it. So really, I think it helped us to get a couple of guys healed up and also just kind of take a break from the grind. Catch your breath and here you go. Second half of the season. Brand news season, and you start with the No. 2 ranked team in America. Can't beat that.

Q: If you look at Alabama's offensive weapons, especially running the football, you like to run the football. Is there some jealousy seeing the weapons they have right now?

Nutt: Yeah, but I know we're going to be able to get ours, though, in time. There's no question. Where we're located. The facilities we have. It's not going to take us long, and I'm excited about that. To answer your question, you're right, because I'm used to seeing our name up there as the No. 1 rushing team. When you have that, you can have both. When you have a good rushing game, you can have an outstanding play action team because they've got to stop your run. It makes people commit to stopping the run, and that's where you get a Julio Jones one on one.

Q: It's a game with two great left tackles. Talk about those guys.

Nutt: Both of them very good. Andre Smith is a bug guy that's been there a long time. Seems like he has. Just a big, dominant blocker. He's a great run blocker and can do a great job protecting the blind side of the quarterback in pass protection. Michael Oher has really come on. I think he's improved. Coach Markuson has done an outstanding job with him. Every scout that's come in has told me how much more physical he is, how much harder he's playing, the tempo he plays. I'm looking at an even better second half of the season from him. When you see them in warmups, you say that's what SEC left tackles look like. Absolutely

Q: Do you feel your team will be more up this week, a little more bounce in their step, like they had going into Florida?

Nutt: I want them to be up every game. We've been up for every game except for one. Coming off the Florida game, I just didn't feel like our energy was at the same level against South Carolina, especially on defense. Other than that, our guys have played hard. We really could be sitting here 5-1, 6-0. That's just "what if." We have to do the little things to be able to be 6-0. That's the point we're trying to get to.

Q: Would you rather have seen Alabama No. 1 this week instead of No. 2?

Nutt: That would have been fine. Always love to see the SEC get as high as we can get. All those things take care of themselves. Alabama's a good football team and could easily be No. 1. But Texas did a heck of a job beating No. 1 (Oklahoma).

Q: Has college football gotten to the point that the winner is whoever makes the fewest mistakes?

Nutt: No question. The team that makes the fewest mistakes in that two hour and 45 minute period. We talk about it all the time. It's not the best player, it's the best team, the team that plays the smartest and makes the fewest mistakes, takes care of the ball, that's the team that's going to win, no matter who you play. Look at Florida. They did an unbelievable job of handling LSU. We all know how talented LSU is. It's mistakes, it's momentum, it's penalties. Whoever makes the fewest mistakes is the team that's going to win.

Q: Back to Greg Hardy. Coach Tracy Rocker's comments last week were pretty strong and that he pulled him against South Carolina because he wasn't giving that much effort. But it sounds like you were disappointed in the team's overall effort. Did Greg do anything wrong in your mind in that game.

Nutt: Coach Rocker, like all of us, is still learning these guys, and we're trying to push buttons. He wasn't the only one. It's just that our level wasn't the same that we've been consistently playing. Every Saturday in this league you have to be at a very, very high level just to give yourself a chance to win the ball game. We expect so much from Greg Hardy. He's a difference maker. He's on the cover of Sports Illustrated one week. Well we want that guy to come back. We want him to come back every Saturday. He wasn't the only one. So we might have put a little bit more on him. But we expect so much from Greg. You're just trying to make a difference in his life in everything you do. You want him to do all the little things correctly, but that's everybody involved. I was disappointed overall in everybody, No. 1. Each course handles their 10 players. The way I want them to handle them is that you treat them as if that was your son. You expect 100 percent, playing with all the passion, all the energy you have. Lay it on the line every single play. Then when you don't do that, hey, we're going to demand that from you. You've got to play like that. You've got to play like an Ole Miss Rebel, and that's every single play. It's not just sometimes or when you feel good. It's every time you step out on the field, because it's a privilege to do so.


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