Nutt: 'Nothing like game week'

Coach Houston Nutt met the press Monday prior to the season opener with Memphis. Read the Q & A inside.

Houston Nutt: Nothing like game week. We had a good camp. Everybody has been looking forward to this week. We had a good day yesterday concentrating on Memphis. We'll go in full pads tomorrow, and that's probably the last day (in full pads). It will be a full practice tomorrow. We'll lighten up as we go down the week."

Q: What's the status of Brandon Bolden and Gerald Harris?

They look good. They should be full speed by tomorrow or close to it. They bounced around well yesterday. They didn't show any signs of tighntness of soreness. Gerald is about 85-90 percent. Hopefully both will be even better tomorrow.

Q: Other injuries?

Feel good about everybody right now. Mostly healthy. Justin Smith exception. Greg's about there. Gets sreo sometimes. That's to be expcted. Worked hard. Confident now and range of motion and stability all right.

Q: Talk about the offensive line backups?

We're trying to redshirt Logan (Clair). My goal is to redshirt him. Talked to him and told him we don't know if we can guarantee it. We told him to work hard as if he is going to play. We want him to know the gameplan but we're trying to redshirt him. A.J. Hawkins is probably our next guard either way. Reid (Neely) could move around since he's an older guy. Right now we'd go with A.J.

Q: How much father along offensively are you this year than last year?

We've added a few wrinkles. With some inexperience in the line, for the most part, John Jerry has done a good job with the younger guys. When you go four or five wideouts, you know people are going to come after you. We didn't just add a lot of stuff but just enough wrinkles to help us. And Jevan has taken it to another level.

Q: What do you know about Memphis?

Always a game through the years that's a tough physical game. Two execptional wideouts in Singleton and Calhoun. Their quarterback is back. Steele the running back has improved. Defensively we don't know all the changes and new faces. But going by what we see and hear, they've got guys that can run. We've got to make sure our guys are ready to go and are prepared. The first game is always a little nervous, because you try to cover everything. This is an important week for us.

Q: How to prepare for any coaching changes there?

It's just Tommy West to me. He's very involved. Knowing Tommy from year's past, his philosophy and what he does, that's how we prepare for it.

Q: There are a lot of new faces as far as players at Memphis. How do you evaluate the new players you haven't seen?

That's a difficult thing. You don't have much film. Don't truly know those guys. You don't know for sure who is going to play. Again you go with the philosophy of Coach West. I'm more worried about our guys and what we're doing. Blocking tackling, things like that.

Q: How do you make up for the height advantage they have with their receivers and your secondary?

That's tough. It takes everybody. Timing is important. Everybody has to do their job to help out that corner.

Q: Ja-mes Logan, Jesse Grandy, and Terrell Grant. Who will play and who will redshirt?

Good question. Terrell Grant has done very well, and we'd like to redshirt him. Ja-mes Logan is another we'd like to redshirt. But you don't know right now. Grandy will play. We'll role play him in different parts of the game.

Q: Is it harder to get players to not read the hype and believe it this year, or was it easier to get them to believe in themselves last year?

I didn't know last year if we'd be able to get them to believe in themselves. This is unchartered waters. I love for it to be this way. Our stadium is sold out. This is the way you want it.

Q: What are your thoughts on Ole Miss-Memphis?

My experience is I love this game. I don't have that much to do with scheduling. I haven't had a chance to sit down with Pete Boone and John Hartwell. Seems like a good game and maybe one for the future. But I don't have that much to do with it.

Q: Talk about your secondary?

We started out thinking we had two safeties that we were going to be here (recruits). That hurts you depth wise. I've been proud of Fon Ingram and Derrick Herman. Both those guys have stepped up, but they just haven't been here when the lights come on, in a game.

Q: Do you have to guard against your players being too keyed up?

You really never worry about being too keyed up. You should always be ready for the first game. It's been a long time since we played. Our guys have a lot of respect for Memphis and we need to be ready to play.

Q: How much will Greg Hardy play? Will he start?

Greg will have significant snaps but maybe won't out there on the first play. We consider him a starter. We had to hold him a few days. Overall pleased with him. We're looking forward to getting him on the field and him getting confidence in his foot. Hopefully he'll be as good as ever.

Q: Talk about the secondary and how far it's come.

"That's the thing we were first told when we got here. The secondary is not very good, linebackers not very good, and offensive line's got a lot of holes. The secondary had some depth problems. Marshay Green moved over last year. Cassius Vaughn has experience back there. Johnny Brownn, Kendrick Lewis. With those four you've got a group there that gives you confidence and has improved. Hopefully they'll start back right where they left off.

Q: How do you keep your players from letting their guards down?

We didn't approach it like that last year and won't this year. You get 12 opportunities. We'll play extremely hard and we're excited about it.

Q: Talk about the kicking game and return game?

Kickoff return now Bolden and Eason. We're not afraid to put Derrick Herman in there as well. Cassius Vaughn. Marshay Green. The next guy is Derrick Herman. Justin Sparks will punt. Tyler Campbell is ready to go. We feel good about both freshmen – Ritter and Campbell. Sparks has been exceptional throughout camp. He's got experience. Kickoffs, we'll go with Andrew Ritter.

Q: What are the keys to victory?

Take care of the ball Win the turnover margin. On all the possessions, take care of it. Defensively don't give up a cheap one, big plays. And special teams, you have to be solid. If you look across the country, first games are often determined by special teams. You see a lot of flags early, missed blocks, tackles, that's the area that will set the tone.

Q: What about this game as far as recruiting and exposure in the Memphis area?

It's important. We'll get good feedback. It's the only game on national TV Sunday, college or pro. This is big for us.

Q: Talk about Tim Simon?

We saw from the first time the way the he runs with his pads, he just seemed very natural back there. He's hard to tackle. Very tough. He wanted to play that position. We wanted to make sure we gave him every opportunity. When you have the numbers we do at back, we tell him to be ready because you never know. They all have to be ready.

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