Houston Nutt weekly press conference

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt met the press Monday for his weekly news conference.

Nutt: Very good practice Sunday. Most of our guys were back out there. Very physical football game with Alabama. I was very proud of our effort, especially in the second half. We're really trying to again concentrate on the things tht have been stopping us. Turnovers. We're getting better on penalties. Got to stop gift-wrapping some things. Defensively I thought we did a very good job against a team that is very good on offense. They're leading the lead in rushing. Big offensive line. John Parker Wilson, an experienced guy, a leader. Thought we did a good job for the most part besides the one home run ball. Give Alabama's defense some credit. They were the biggest team we've played. Very big and fast. I thought we came back and executed. When we do execute we've got a chance. We've got to get better.

Q: You know the Arkansas players, and they know you. Is that a concern for you, that they might know your tendancies?

Nutt: No it's not. I'm more concerned about our players and what we're trying to get done. Things we're trying trying to execute. I really don't worry too much about that.

Q: What are your thoughts on Arkansas so far this season, and what are your thoughts on the talent there.

They've done a good job, especially lately. Michael Smith is the tailback we knew he would be. He's very fast with great vision. The offensive line is very talented starting with Jonathan Luigs. Casey Dick's a guy that's been around a long time and is experienced in this league. Not a coverage he hasn't seen. Very good freshman class. They've got a good ballclub. Defensively on the defensive line Malcolm Sheppard really stands out. Plays hard. Fundamentally sound. Then at linebacker there's Freddy Burton. All those guys have been around. Wendell Davis has played a lot of ball. A lot of them have been on special teams. A lot like us. Maybe a little thin at the corner spot. They've done a good job.

Q: With Dexter McCluster's fumbles, will you have to rethink how much he touches the ball because of the turnovers or passing problems.

Nutt: I think this. We've addressed it the right way, and he knows and understands what we need from him. If that means giving up a couple of yards, getting down, do that. Take care of the ball. We're working very hard at being ball conscious every step of the way. You can't worry about the next move, can't worry about the next guy you're going to miss or make miss, you've got to worry about the ball. He understands that and we'll look long and hard this week, really coach it better. The thing you love about Dexter, he's the kind of heart you want on this football team. He plays with such passion. It's hard to sit a guy down like that. But you have a good point. We've tossed it around for many hours about the ball. If you know me very well, that's one thing I have a hard time with. I've always been in the plus category in the turnover margin more times than not.

Q: Four for four in red zone but a lot of drives stalled. What can you do about that?

Nutt: No. 1 give Alabama credit. They've done that to a lot of people. Georgia didn't score any points in the first half. Clemson. There's a reason they're No. 2. When we don't stop ourselves and when everybody does their job, we've got a chance to move the ball and score like we did in the second half. Keep working hard on execution and also taking care of the football.

Q: Talk about your feelings on going back to Fayetteville and coaching guys you know and recruited.

Nutt: Well sometimes you can't help thinking about it back in the summer because of the time we spent there. But I've been pretty wrapped up with Ole Miss. Love this football team here and gotten very close with these guys. Once the whistle blows, once that ball is kicked off, I think it's just like every other football game, hopefully putting our guys in the right position. So you get lost in it. But you can't help but have a lot of feelings for the guys you recruited there. Guys that you know. You know their families, so naturally there's a relationship there.

Q: Arkansas has struggled a ttimes and some people said you didn't leave the program in good shape and that you knew you were leaving.

Nutt: Anybody can say things like that. I don't want to get into how do they know I was leaving, nobody knew I was leaving, or when I was leaving. The only thing I know is we gave a lot of effort, lot of energy, to that program every single day from daylight to exhaustion every day. There are a lot of good football players that are there.

Q: Talk about your run game, and what you are getting from those guys.

Nutt: We're getting better. We had our longest run so far Saturday against a very good defense. We've still got do to a better job, especially in short yardage with blocking. Cordera Eason, Brandon Bolden, Enrique Davis, and Dexter McCluster – those are the guys that have been getting the ball. Eacj of them is little different and brings something different to the table. You try to go with the hot hand, the guy who is really hitting the hole and hitting the line of scrimmage with authority, running with their eyes. You just try to go with that guy. Those are the guys we've been going with and gives us the best chance.

Q: Did you expect one to emerge?

Nutt: You don't always know what to expect when you come in brand new. You'd like for one guy to step up and say I'm the guy, the one you can count on every single day and be the guy. But again, I don't mind doing it by committee. We've done that before. As long as they know that when they're in the ballgame, we're putting our trust in you. Take care of it and run hard.

Q: Since you took the Ole Miss job, how many times you thought about this week and this game.

Nutt: I don't know the exact number, but there've been several times. You think about it, what's it going to be like on the other side, the opposite side. Coming from the other dressing room. But you're halfway through the season and you're locked into Ole Miss. You're locked into the players we have here. I'm excited about them. I've gotten very close to them. I'm looking forward to it. Just looking forward to it. But I can't give you a number of times it's definitely crossed my mind.

Q: On the turnovers, are you surprised your guys haven't done better job holding on to the ball.

Nutt: Yes. No question about it. Been too many.

Q: What about Greg Hardy's shoe situation?

Nutt: He re-injured his foot. He had the right shoes. His shoes were packed. Whatever he did (to hurt his foot), he wasn't full speed. But the equipment was there. We've got the best equipment people in America. Ken Crane and (John) "Possum" (Ross) are the best. They're awesome. He was in a boot yesterday. We'll know more tomorrow or the next day.

Q: Could you move back to Arkansas and live peacefully say after retirement?

Nutt: I think so. My mother still lives there. My brother still lives in the state. I like where I'm living right now, though. So I don't know about jumping over there when I retire. Not so fast. I like where I'm living right now. Very, very beautiful.

Q: Talk about Ashlee Palmer.

Nutt: For the last three weeks Ashlee has really stepped up his game. I think Tyrone (Nix) has really challenged him about three or four weeks ago to be a physical guy. He looks the part but he really wasn't bringing the hat three or four weeks ago. He's been physical. He's made plays. He's been a good blitzer of Ashlee and also his leadership.

Q: Can you give us an update on Peria Jerry and Darryl Harris?

Nutt: Don't know anything yet on Darryl Harris. Peria looks good. He was there Sunday ready to go. He'll be fine. He's tough. He's playing the best ball of his career. Been real excited about his leadership. Darryl looks OK. I'm really hoping for the best. I think he'll be OK.

Q: Talk about Lionel Breaux and Markeith Summers and their progress.

Q: I'm glad you brought those two up. Those guys have been so unselfich. They're on special teams and doing an excellent job. Their names probably don't get called very much on special teams. Go watch the job Lionel and Markeith have done on kickoff, kickoff return, punt return. Lionel makes a tackle and the very next pay he catches a crossing route over the middle. Just been outstanding. Both are very fast. They're team players and I've been really proud of them. They're in the package and will get more balls.

Q: Talk about how your families have approached this weekend?

Nutt: It's kind of hard to explain the feelings you have. Again that's where you get lost in your team, get lost in trying to take one week at a time. You knew this week was coming, and you focus on the task at hand. I've got a job to get our team better. We're a good football team. To be 3-4, it just really makes me sick, because I know we could be 6-1 or 7-0 so easily. That's what hurts and tugs at my heart for these seniors. My obligation to them like I told them in our very first meeting is to get to a bowl and experience that. But this is a tough league. There are no gimmes. We're looking forward to it. It's about our team. It's not about me. It's about the players. I don't make one block or one tackle. Its our players. You try to get lost in that part of it the best you can.

Q: What are some other options with Wild Rebel? Who could pass or run from that formation?

Nutt: I can't give out that. You're trying to give out my gameplan. Can't do that. We've got some people listening. There are some options there. Just bear with us.

Q: Is there any extra incentive for you and your assistants because you were at Arkansas for a long time?

Nutt: The next game is always the biggest game. Again our players weren't there for 10 years. So I don't want to fill them with all the things we went through. This is Ole Miss. The next game is we go to Arkansas. You get lost in that. Every week you prepare for the next game, just like we did at Alabama. We prepared for Alabama to go win the game. Be fundamentally sound. Work on the game plan. Execution against a very good football team. Nothing changes this week. Same type of deal. Get ready for next game. This is the next one.

Q: What type reception are you expecting (question from an Arkansas reporter)?

Nutt: I don't know. You tell me.

Q: Were you surprised Enrique got caught from behind on that play?

Nutt: We watched film all week. So I wasn't. That was one of the fastest defense that we'll play all year. When you study and watch Alabama against Clemson and Georgia, Arkansas and Kentucky, there are not any long runs. I was excited once we got past 10-yard mark. Very excited. So naturally I was hoping he got into the end zoe. But they've got real speed, and that's what makes them so good.

Q: Can this weekend's game, along with your move to Oxford, make this a more heated rivalry?

Nutt: I'm sure it will be. There will be a lot of people at the ballgame. Probably it was an instant rivalry as soon as our staff came over here, because there's been so much talk about it.

Q: Pick one word to describe this week for you.

Nutt: Different. It's going to be a little bit different. That's why you lock into the routine and the game and game-planning. Again it's about the players.

Q: Same routine this week as far as preparation and travel, etc.?

Nutt: Yes. Same routine.

Q: Would you rather this game be played in Little Rock.

Nutt: Absolutely.

Q: Why is that?

Nutt: That's my hometown.

Q: During your 10 years there, what was Arkansas' biggest rival games?

Nutt: Ole Miss, Alabama, LSU. Those three.


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