All the gameplanning, all the pregame analysis, all the sweat, all the back and forth banter and text messaging is almost over.
There's nothing left to do now but play the game.
The Rebels put the finishing touches on full-speed preparations for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. Ole Miss-LSU game Thursday with a 1 1/2-hour workout in soft shells and helmets.
"I remember vividly the day I was introduced as the Ole Miss coach at the Ford Center, several people came up to me and said 'great win over LSU last week - now we expect you to do that at Ole Miss.' From that moment on, I have known the importance of this game to the Ole Miss fan base," Rebel Coach Houston Nutt said. "I know this game each year has special meaning. I know the traditions."
Fortunately, Nutt doesn't have any sideshows going on this week. Everyone is relatively healthy and there's been virtually no movement on the depth chart.
Just as there is nothing left to do but play the game, there's really nothing much left to say either, but Nutt had a few nuggets left.
"I think the week went well. They were tuned in," said Houston. "They know. They have great respect for the athletes LSU has. They have not had much success against LSU in the past few years and they know they have to play their best game, especially on special teams because of Trendon Holliday and in taking care of the ball on offense. We do those things and we have a chance."
Houston said he can see the confidence on his team growing.
"It's that dose of medicine we have been talking about all year - winning. Winning breeds confidence and it's contagious. That's the best medicine you can have. We needed it badly and we've gotten some of it," Nutt stated. "It's fun to watch and be a part of. It's what makes all the work worth it."
LSU doesn't have many statistical weaknesses, but one is pass defense. Nutt says the Tigers' numbers in that department are deceiving.
"They've played against several quarterbacks who have been around the block like Matthew Stafford and Tim Tebow," Houston stated. "They've given up more than they want to, I'm sure, but they are also replacing some starters in the back end of their defense.
"We can't go by any of that. We have to take care of our game, be physical and get ready to play."
The Rebels are healthy - everybody.
"Full tilt - we're ready to go. Shay, Greg, Jason, all of them," Nutt said. "Guys are having fun and they don't want to be hurt. They have something to play for and they don't want to miss it. They also don't want to lose their jobs. That's what winning does."
Twice this week, Nutt has opened practice outside, but brought the troops into the warm confines of the IPF halfway through the Tuesday and Thursday workouts.
"If we were going to play in this chilly weather, I'd stay out there, but our forecast for Saturday afternoon is a high of 64 degrees, so there is no need to practice in low 40s with a strong wind," Houston closed. "They concentrate better when they aren't fighting the weather conditions, plus you have to take every opportunity to take care of your team. They notice things like that and respond to it."
* We've been asked all week - what are the keys to beating LSU? Here's the short list, from our perspective. . . Offense: 1. Keep the running game going to control the clock and the crowd to keep LSU's defense honest. 2. No turnovers. 3. When there are passing plays to be made, make them. . . Defense: 1. Contain the LSU run game and TB Charles Scott. He cannot be allowed to get into a rhythm or a lather. 2. Pressure their QB on passing downs to force him to throw quickly. 3. Like the offense, when they put the ball in the air errantly, make the play and make them pay. . . . Special Teams: 1. Control Trendon Holliday in the LSU return game. 2. Do everything else just like they've been doing it most of the year.
* Junior DE Greg Hardy is as healthy as he has been since the Florida game, where he was a major factor. Can he be that kind of factor against LSU? Perhaps for the first time all year, the coaching staff is counting on him to be the Greg Hardy of old. Look for "more" from him this weekend. In a game where one sack or forced bad throw can mean the difference in winning and losing, Hardy may be the ace up the Rebs' sleeve.
* Houston Nutt is 4-6 against the Tigers in 10 years at Arkansas. The last time Nutt and the Hogs locked up with LSU, in 2007, Nutt's Razorbacks prevailed 50-48 in three overtimes in Baton Rouge. The Tigers went on to win the SEC Championship Game and the National Championship. It was Houston's last game as the head coach of Arkansas. The Hogs went to the Cotton Bowl after he was hired by Ole Miss.
Practice Report: Thursday
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