A new season has finally arrived.
Ok, so maybe spring drills are nothing more than a pre-cursor to the fall, but with expectations building for 2009, they should be enough to satisfy for at least a few more months.
"It's exciting. People are just anxious," said junior defensive end Kentrell Lockett. "I don't know who's more anxious, (the players) or the fans. It's the whole community. We're all ready to get on the field and get back at it."
With a stellar 9-4 season officially in the rearview mirror, Ole Miss can now concentrate on the encore.
It will surely be difficult, as the Rebels graduated a strong senior class laced with leadership. Gone are, among others, LT Michael Oher, DT Peria Jerry, and WR Mike Wallace.
Nutt said the team will look to build upon the team's success a year ago in the spring, while also answering some lingering questions throughout the depth chart.
"We have a chance to have a good football team, but we have some concerns," he said. "Like the left side of the offensive line, that will be manned by two players who haven't played a lot. We will have to have a lot of people step up, we will have to stay healthy and we will have to develop some depth. There are good things and bad things, but we can't go around calling ourselves a top-10 team. There are still a lot of questions and we have a lot of work to do."
The last three months have been difficult for most of Rebel Nation, with fans chomping at the bits for a little pad-popping action.
They'll have to hold off on that for now, however, as the team won't be in full gear until early next week according to Nutt.
"We are all excited about the start of spring," said Nutt. "We are going to welcome everyone to come and watch us work out. It's time to go to work and get better in 15 days of practice.
"Friday and Saturday we will be in shorts and helmets. Sunday we will be in shoulder pads and helmets and Monday we will go full contact right up to the April 18th Grove Bowl. From then on, we will go Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday."
But there's still a different air with Ole Miss football back in full swing – albeit in shorts and shirts initially.
"We look to carry over some of (last year's momentum), hopefully, but this is a new team and a new year," Nutt said. "It's all about winning. Each year is different so we'll see. We learned a lot from last year, so now the goal is to build on it and get even better."
One player who hopes to improve is quarterback Jevan Snead, as the junior passed for 2,762 yards and 26 touchdowns over his sophomore season.
Snead said he became more comfortable in OC Kent Austin's playbook as the year wore on, but expects to expand on his gained knowledge during the next few weeks.
"Last year was tough. I was trying to learn the terminology and the playbook, plus play my position, all at once," he said. "I was also dealing with learning my receivers. This year it's different. I know my receivers better because we have been together another year. I know the plays and the terminology we are starting off with.
"That knowledge has helped me relax. I'm not as stressed as I was last spring. Now that I have a year under my belt, I feel way more comfortable coming into spring training. I think my retention has been good, so I am ready to improve and keep working hard. Knowledge goes a long way in helping your confidence and in allowing you to relax and perform stress-free."
Snead's numbers were aided by a strong end to last season, where he helped lead Ole Miss to six-straight wins.
Nutt hopes his signal-caller can continue to build on that momentum.
"We want him to pick up where he left off," said Nutt. "If you took the first five games and compared them to the last seven – it's night and day. He improved so much. We have a real confidence of him taking it over with his experience and his confidence. He can improve a lot of things, but he's hungry and I look for him to improve and get even better."
Senior Dexter McCluster, who is sure to gain preseason All-Conference consideration, said the Rebels aren't settling on one good year.
"You can feel the excitement around town," said McCluster. "We are the Ole Miss Rebels. Everybody's proud of what we've accomplished, but we can never be satisfied. It can be gone just like that. We're all out there for the same common goal."
First practice is set for Friday at 3:50 p.m.
Enough to Satisfy
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