Nutt: 'We didn't finish it.'

COLUMBIA, S.C. - After No. 4 Ole Miss fell 16-10 to South Carolina Thursday in Columbia, Rebel head coach Houston Nutt stepped to the podium to meet the media. Read the transcript inside.

Opening Statement:

"I thought our defense played its heart out tonight. Offensively, we didn't stay on the field enough. We came back there at the end and fought hard, but we just didn't get the job done. We had some opportunities (offensively). That's what hurts in this one. We had the momentum at the end, but we didn't finish it."

On the play of the defense:

"They made some plays, but when your defense holds them to 16 points, we're supposed to win that ballgame. They played well enough to win the ballgame. I was proud of how hard they fought. I thought they played extremely well. I was just disappointed offensively, because I know we're better than that. We missed a few blocks, missed a few holes. We had a chance to score on the fake field goal. I thought that was six. There were just so many plays. We stopped ourselves offensively."

On Gamecock linebacker Eric Norwood:

"We didn't block No. 40. He's a good player. They've got a good defense. He's a good player. That's where the youth on the edge comes into play. Bradley has to get better, but he was going against a man, now. We knew we had to account for him and didn't do that. He made it awfully tough on us. The rush really hurt us."

On the offense and getting the ball to WR/RB Dexter McCluster:

"When you get behind in the count, when you play third-down ball, it's hard to play the game. It's hard to play that third-and-10 ball. We had plans to get the ball to Dexter, but we had too many three-and-outs. Every time we'd think of the next play, it'd be third down again. It got us off track a little bit. We have to work hard to get better."

On the absences of FB Andy Hartmann and TE Gerald Harris:

"It really makes a difference, guys. It really makes a difference. When you lose your starting fullback and your starting tight end, that's a blow. Mark-Jean Louis was good at times at linebacker. Ferbia (Allen) did some good things, but it's hard for him to hold up physically the entire game."

On if the expectations for the team were too high:

"It's quite a jump from where we came from – from where we started. To get to No. 4 in the country from where we were when we got here, that's quite a shot."

On his biggest fears entering the game:

"Keeping Norwood under control and everything on top of our guys. Going into their first SEC game in a hostile environment and handling everything. I thought our guys fought. They could have very easily let go of the rope. When we were down 16-3, and things were looking gloom, but they never quit. All of the sudden, our guys think they're going to win the ballgame."

On the play of QB Jevan Snead:

"I think it's a combination of everything. We have to protect better. He has to have a chance."

On if the ranking might have gotten to the players:

"I don't think so. I go by effort, attitude and how hard they work. All they've done is given it to us. They've worked extremely hard. I'm proud of them. I never sensed we were feeling a lot of pressure. But now, it is what it is. We lost our first conference game. We have to win the next conference game. Period."

On what he said to the team in the locker room:

"I told them I was very proud of them – especially defensively – how hard they played. I was proud of how they didn't give up. They hung onto the rope. We're going to get better from here. Losses are hard to swallow right now."

On the offensive play-calling in the first half:

"When you don't execute and you don't block the right guy, you can say things were out-of-kilter."

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