Odd two or three weeks

The high ranking the Ole Miss football team is enjoying isn't the only thing different around the Rebel camp these days. Read about it inside.

The season opener against Memphis was on a Sunday.

That's different.

The week after, some 30-odd players were struck with the flu and other illnesses.

Also unusual.

The second week of the season was also an open week with no game scheduled.

Strange the way that cookie crumbled for an open week that early in the year.

Upcoming, the Rebels will play this Saturday at home against SLU and then turn right around for a Thursday night match at South Carolina to open their SEC season.

Another oddity.

To say the first three weeks have been, or will be, weird is like saying Serena Williams' recent tirade at the U.S. Open was mild.

"It's been hard to get in a routine, for sure, but it's just the hand we were dealt and we will deal with it," said Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt, who tried to make light of the early abnormalities. "We will adjust and won't make a big deal out of it."

In other words, the message Nutt is sending to his troops is to take a positive, mature approach and deal with it. Don't let it get in your heads.

"There was nothing we could do about any of that. You can't let things you cannot control affect you," Houston continued.

Junior Defensive End Kentrell Lockett, who was in the number of the 30-odd who were sick last week, said he will take his coaches' lead, but it can get confusing at times.

"It seems like every time we come out to practice, the coaches are saying, 'OK, we know it's Sunday, but pretend like it's Tuesday,' or something like that," Lockett laughed. "Your mind knows what they are talking about, but you have to coax your body to respond accordingly. It's not that difficult, but it is different and kind of weird."

Senior WR Shay Hodge said much the same.

"Everyone is a creature of habit and our habits have been shifted some to start the season. We'll adjust but there have been some things we aren't used to that we've had to deal with," Hodge noted.

The flip side is that some of the "inconveniences" the early season has brought about are over.

Playing on Sunday to open the season, and, hopefully, the flu bug, are gone. Is there a residual affect of the illness?

"I got a little winded at the end of Sunday's workout, but we got Monday off and I think I'll be OK in a couple of days. I coughed a lot at the end of Sunday's practice, but that's to be expected," Kentrell stated.

Shay had a different outcome.

"Some of us got tired at the end of practice, but I felt real good. I was anxious to get back out there and felt great," he said. "Anything beats being back at your apartment laid up in bed with a fever."

For his part, Nutt is taking everything in stride.

"We will focus on getting them back in top shape this week and in execution on both sides of the ball," he said. "We have time to get those things accomplished.

"Due to so many missing last week during the open week, we will have to back up a little, but not much. We should be fine as long as we don't have any more setbacks."

Houston is sticking to his earlier statements that the Rebs will not be looking ahead to South Carolina.

"You don't have to look far to realize that is dangerous business, to look ahead. We know it's a short week after SLU, but we truly are going to take one game at a time," he said. "The main things we are going to do this week is work on us.

"We need to execute better across the board on offense. We have to quit having those plays where eight guys are doing their jobs and three aren't. On defense, we can tackle better than we did against Memphis. On special teams, a block here or a block there and we could have had some bigger plays. It's all about executing and all about 11 guys executing properly. That's where our focus will be this week."

Today is Tuesday and the Rebels will hold a Tuesday practice, which is the first time in a while anything close to a routine has been enjoyed by the Rebels.

Maybe the weirdness is over.

Never mind. Next Sunday will be a Tuesday and next Tuesday will be a Thursday.

And after the Thursday night game in Columbia, it will be nine days before the Rebs play again, at Vandy.

The weird beat goes on. . . .


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