Really good open week, got some good work done. I thought the intensity, effort, attitude were all good. Got a lot of work in for the young people. The guys that give scout team looks, it is a time they look forward to, and they had a ball. We really had a good practice yesterday, everybody ready to go back on time. That is a good sign. You never seem to have a problem with a car breaking down when they leave, it's when they come back that have car problems. But we didn't have any car problems. I was really excited about that. Getting ready for a Monroe team that offensively gives you a lot of problems because of the different formations, they do so many things. They'll break from two-back to one-back to five-wide to three-wide to four-wide, so many things, and then of course, like about everybody these days, they'll bring in the Wild Rebel and put a good athlete with a direct snaps. Have to work on many sets. Defensively, they run hard and play hard, go to the ball. And if you just look around, last year they beat Alabama, and then this year, they had Arkansas beat, had them beat. So this is a type game you have to be ready for, chin straps buckled up. Tremendous focus. Ready to play.
On Jason Cook's status:
He wasn't back yesterday, but he will be tomorrow. That is good for us. We've been missing him.
On Kendrick Lewis:
I have been proud of all our safeties, but boy, Kendrick has really come on. He's on special teams, our kickoff team. He has been everywhere for us. He's catching the ball back there, doing a good job with tackling. Really proud of him. Jamarca Sanford has had a very good year. And recently Johnny Brown. You have three legitimate guys that play very, very hard. But Kendrick, you didn't see this in spring, but he is at a different level, and we are excited about it.
On having mouse traps around the IPF and the team's attention leading up to this week:
You always go by practice, and they were in different places because we are trying to get our players to understand that sometimes these big ole rats will get to feeling good about themselves and getting fat and all a sudden you walk into a big trap where you think is a big piece of cheese, but it isn't. So, it is about how you approach things. It is about attitude and the respect you have to have for Monroe. Don't worry about the record. This is a super bowl for them, and they are excited about playing us. I know a lot of members of their staff, and I know what to expect. That is just a visual sign. They asked the same question. ‘Coach, what are these'? It is that type of game. You have to be ready. You can't just roll your helmet out there and show up.
On Ole Miss coaches that were formerly with La-Monroe:
They know and can give you an in-depth detail about the players. They understand them, been around them. They recruited some of these guys and can give you a feel for some of these players and the positions.
On Shreveport in December or Memphis in January:
How about Monroe in Oxford. That is all we can think about. Not one player can look forward to January. Not one guy has gone to a bowl. It is ridiculous to think about where we can go. We've got to get bowl eligible, and it starts this Saturday at 1 p.m.
On what a bowl appearance can do for the program:
This is one of our goals and helps everything. Number one, it rewards the players that have worked so hard. They made a commitment. It gives extra practice time for the young people. It helps recruiting. There is nothing like practicing during that time in December and having recruits for official visits. There is nothing like that. And it is your school and name being mentioned all the time. It is publicity that you can't buy. It is very important.
On the Wild Rebel package taking off like it has:
I'm surprised that it has reached the Sunday game. I'm not surprised that a lot of colleges are using it. It just makes sense to put one of your better players in a position to touch the ball, make things happen.
On how difficult it is to adjust to:
It is a combination of that and slows good defenses down, causes them to think responsibility – who has the fast sweep and who has the quarterback. Is he going to throw it? All those things come into play. It is just a good knuckleball that slows people down.
On the rest helping Greg Hardy:
He moved around well yesterday. I am excited about that. Hopefully he can get these next three games in and be full speed for us. He looked good yesterday.
On using the Wild Rebel less the last couple games:
With the way everybody is playing it, they have spent so much time on it; you can tell they are ready. It is always the feel and how much production you are getting out of it. We'll always use it, but how much depends on what we are getting out of it. A lot of people have been trying to discourage us from it, but we are going to continue to use it. It has been good for us, but a lot of teams spend a lot of time on it now.
On Jevan Snead and how he can improve accuracy:
You just throw to receivers and emphasize it. I thought he had his best week of the year last week during the open date. He really came on and concentrated hard. Excellent one-on-one drills. Kent has been wearing that net out. It is about footwork and follow-through, all those things. And then doing it against a live rush. He had a good week and came back yesterday with good-against-good, the first team defense with blitzes and the whole bit. He was cool under pressure. And that is what it is about. Feeling good and believing in what we are doing. He knows where his receivers are. They had a good day as well. It takes everybody. Good protection, good routes, and then the quarterback has to get them the ball.
On Rob Park's season:
Oh my goodness, all my kickers and deep snapper, I have been really proud of them. But Rob Park, especially the last three weeks, has done an exceptional job of turning over the field, getting trajectory, punting the ball out of bounds, pinning the other offense back deep, just winning the field position. Just been very, very good. Been very proud of him.
On what percentage Nutt looks for out of his quarterback:
I like for them to be at 60, 60 or better for what we are doing. I know we can't always get there with that because of the defenses we are playing in this league. They are the best defenses in America. I am partial, but the SEC, I think they are. To be able to handle the blitz and the speed of the game, how fast the corners are, I like for them to be right there.
On Kentrell Lockett:
He has really come on and Coach Decker has done a very good job of keeping his weight. I worry about tall, skinny guys losing weight and getting beat up this time of year. He has actually gained a few pounds. He is almost 252. He played his best game last week, getting off blocks. Chasing the quarterback, chasing backs. Coach Rocker has done a good job with technique. He has just been consistent, you can count on him every Saturday, and he has gotten better with playing – almost every snap.
On when Arkansas played La-Monroe last year and what Nutt remembers:
Played them much earlier, in September. It was their quarterback, and they seem to always have one speed guy. Defense gives different looks, different fronts. And they play so hard.
On throwing from the Wild Rebel:
It is there. We always have it. We are comfortable, but we haven't had the success I would like throwing it with Dexter. You're not ever afraid to throw it when they are committed, overcommitted to the run. We just have to call it at the right time. But we're not going to shelf it. We believe in it, and it can help us.
On Reid Neely's year:
Reid got hurt early and missed camp, but he has hung in there and paid attention, excellent character. Smart guy that understands, even on the sidelines taking mental reps. And now he is helping us, helping us win ballgames. He's in the mix, just want him to continue to be physical. Really proud of Reid.
On Gerald Harris' season:
Whenever you step into this SEC, it is a big jump from high school or junior college. The thing about Gerald, he plays so hard and the intensity is always there. He always wants to please. He is a team player and isn't worried about how many balls he is going to catch. We're not afraid to throw him the ball. He's done a good job of blocking, helping us protect. He has been steady, I am glad he is here with us.
On kickoff coverage:
I have to give a lot of credit to Coach Shibest, Dameron, Chris Vaughn. We put emphasis on it and have used starters. It makes a difference. It is a third of the game, a lot of people just say that because it sounds good, every six plays there is some form of a kick, but it doesn't mean anything unless you truly practice it, practice it everyday. It is the first thing we do after stretching and running a couple plays. We go immediately into kicking, and our guys know how important it is. There is a lot of pride. When we handpick you to be on special teams, it is special. When we handpick you for the punt team, it is the biggest play of the game. And the same goes for all the other teams. They have bonded, and it has helped us. Especially in the SEC, when you have the great punt and kick returners, you better cover because those teams, Florida, Alabama, they break your spirit early with a return, and knock on wood, we haven't had that.
Houston Nutt -
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