Nutt: 'It's been a tough start'

The following are Coach Houston Nutt's comments after the Ole Miss Rebels beat Southeastern Louisiana 52-6 Saturday night.

Nutt: It's been a tough start. We've practiced all this time and had one game until today. You have that week of being sick, and you hadn't had that time to be outside. Seems our timing was off, especially early. I thought we could have about two or three more touchdown passes. Dexter jumped probably a little too quick on that one, and Markeith, Lionel Breaux, these guys usually have made those catches during camp. So we were just a little bit off, but I thought we finished up strong again. Jevan threw the ball very, very well tonight. I thought we had decent protection for most of the night, and I thought our backs ran hard. Defensively their playing fast right now. Just concerned with a little bit of injury. But we'll know more tomorrow. We had a few guys go out tonight that are very, very important to our team. We'll know more tomorrow. I thought our crowd was just awesome tonight, first home game at night, the atmosphere was very good for a rainy day. For our fans to show up the way they did, I thought they were just awesome. Disappointed in our punt return game. I was just really disappointed. That will probably keep us up tonight. Marshay is a very dependable guy. It's probably easy to say we hadn't been outside and all that, but you just can't do that. You can't turn the ball over in this league. So we've got to work hard on that. Tomorrow's Tuesday for us. I just told our team tomorrow's Tuesday. It's a very short week. Another week of uncharted waters, a very quick turnaround. We've got to get in the training room tomorrow and get started.

Q: You mentioned injuries on defense, who are they?

Nutt: I really don't want to right now, because I don't know for sure. I just don't know. I just know there are quite a few looking around. I won't know for sure until tomorrow.

Q: With the way Brandon is running the ball right now, do you think about making him more of a feature back instead of a combo thing?

Nutt: It's just the way the game is right now. The game is we've been fortunate enough to be able to play some guys. I'm not worried about a featured back. I'm worried about winning. So that time will come. We'll play the best guy at the right time. Who is running the hardest, the toughest, who is taking care of the ball. It's just when the game is like this, it's important that everybody has a feel, has a touch, has an opportunity because we didn't get to scrimmage that much. I feel good where we are with our backs, and that's why Brandon is No. 1.

Q: Can you talk about Justin Sparks' game punting the football?

Nutt: That's another disappointment. He's been so good in camp. He's been our long ball hitter, and it's why he won the job. He's got to have a real short memory and have a real good week, because he's got a guy on his heels that's very, very go. But I've got a lot of confidence in Justin. I've got a lot of confidence in him, and I know noone is more disappointed than Justin. It's just that he's got to go out and do what he's been doing. Just be very smooth and have a good drop and punt the ball like he knows he's capable of doing. I still have a lot of confidence in Justin.

Q: Talk about D.T. Shackelford's play.

Nutt: All those freshmen, I can see why you rated them the way you rated them. We've been talking about them a long time. They're very good. D.T. Shackelford, Joel Kight, Patrick Patterson, Jesse Grandy. D.T. Shackelford, though, Coach Nix put him in the mix early. He's tough, he's physical, he absorbs the playbook, he studies it, he's committed. What a winner. What a winner. He's so mature beyond his years. He doesn't act like a freshman. He's a guy that you'd think is a sophomore or junior right now. I'm excited about D.T. because he brings energy to our team. Looked like a running back tonight.

Q: What about Patrick Patterson and his development?

Nutt: Patrick Patterson is another one that is going to get more and more. He has sure hands. He's so tough to bring down. Our quarterbacks have a lot of confidence in him. He'll go up and get the ball. He'll catch in traffic, in a crowd. Good jumpball catcher. That corner usually has a tough time bringing him down on initial contact. He can get yaks. He's long-armed and strong. He's almost 220. I didn't realize that. I was thinking he was more of a 200-pound guy. He's a big, big man. So that gives us another weapon which we really needed.

Q: How bad is Andy Hartman's injury?

Nutt: It doesn't look like it's torn. He'll be out for sure for two weeks.

Q: How did Rishaw Johnson do as a starter at offensive guard, and how did you feel about the offense as a whole?

Nutt: Without watching the film, we got some push. He gives us some size. He's gotten better. I'm anxious to see how did in protection. But I thought for the most part there were some holes there. So this will be a good stepping stone for him, and hopefully the chemistry will keep building off this one.

Q: Walk us through what you have to get done now that tomorrow is like Tuesday?

Nutt: It's very difficult with a Sunday to Thursday game. You have to get in the training room in the morning, the ones that are injured, the ones that are bruised. We'll push everything back to 4 o'clock. Tomorrow's a lifting day. We lift at 4, watch the film, then flip it, then we start practice. So tomorrow will be a long day. We'll come in here early and start getting on South Carolina and have a plan for the base part of it tomorrow. We'll try to go an hour 15, an hour 20 tomorrow. It will be a shortened Tuesday practice. So everything's a quick turn.

Q: With the tings that weren't good like the short punts or the mishandled punts, what would happen in an SEC game if that say happened at South Carolina?

Nutt: Oh Lord, I don't even want to talk about it. You know what that means. Can't win like that. One of the biggest things we did last year was turn the kicking game around and that helped us win. You can't do that. Gotta take care of the ball. Gotta kick it and gotta catch it.


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