Nutt: 'Our defense was outstanding'

The following are Coach Houston Nutt's comments following Ole Miss' 22-3 loss to Alabama.

Nutt:

I really want to thank the crowd. I think the crowd was just awesome. Very enthusiastic, and I hate we didn't get ‘em a victory. The bottom line is Alabama's an awfully good football team. We helped them. One thing we didn't want to do was give them turnovers, gifts. You can't do that, especially against a good team. I thought our defense was outstanding. Our defense played from the first play until the last play. It really hurt us when we lost Marshay in the second quarter. Probably a cracked rib, I think a kidney problem. That really hurts because the punt return game and the way he's been playing at corner, he's been awesome. That's a big loss, and I don't know how long he'll be out. The bottom line is like our told our guys, this is where we find out really what we're all about. We were ready and I thought we were excited. We had two good weeks of preparation. We ran into a really good football team, and you can't turn the ball over.

Q: What's been wrong with the offense the last couple of weeks?

Nutt: I don't see how you can put last week with this week. Last week we got better. Very few people score points on Alabama. The bottom line is they're real good. You just can't turn the ball over. We got drives going and we turn it over. You have to score something. You score a touchdown, now the defense goes to another level and it's a different game.

Q: Assess Jevan's play.

Nutt: Coming into the year there was a lot of pressure on him. He was talked about from when you win the last six ballgames and win the Cotton Bowl, there's a lot of hype and expectation. You're missing a few players from last year. He'll be the first to tell you he can play better. You just don't want to turn it over. That's been our biggest problem. He's just forcing a few things, and he was getting a lot of pressure. There's just that dreaded word "interception." That's tough.

Q: It looked like early in the game you were trying to make things easier for him with some easier throws to hit some receivers.

Nutt: No question. We had every intent to make it about an eight to ten yard pass play where we could get the ball off, No. 1, just like the first interception. That was an eight-yard route. Dexter was running and had separation from the DB. So we tried to make it easy to get him going. You're exactly right.

Q: How do you tell your team to handle this?

Nutt: The first thing is when you leave our locker room, there's going to be a lot of people try to tell them what's wrong. There are a lot of coaches out there. What's so important is that they stay together and be real positive, and let us work through this thing. But when you have losing seasons, four straight until last year, it's easy to get back in that cycle. But what's important for our guys is don't worry about what other people are saying. Just come back and go to work. Come back and get better. Lot of football left. Lot of good things can still happen. That's the main thing.

Q: Have you seen a speedier defense than Alabama's?

Nutt: I really haven't. This is the fastest defense, one through 11, DB to corners to safeties to linebackers to defensive linemen, this is the best. The best I've seen Alabama.

Q: With the ball at their 10, and then you get the pick, down only 19-3 at that point with nearly an entire quarter to play, if you score there....

Nutt: No question about it. That was a huge play. We get seven there, and it's a different game. The stadium goes to another level. The defense goes to another level. The defense just needed some points. That was a huge swing.

Q: What was the deal with Jevan's four interceptions?

Nutt: The first one was overthrown. A couple of them he doesn't get all the credit for. The ball bounces in their hands and pops up. Shay got one taken from him. You have to make those plays. Let's don't give Jevan all those four. It's a team thing, and the receivers have to help him, too.

Q: When did you know Jevan might be feeling the pressure on him?

Nutt: August. Lot more interviews. Lot more pictures to be taken. Lot more talk about him. I could tell there was a lot on him, because he wants to please. He wants to do good. He's a good person who wants to be a good quarterback. It's not easy, it's not easy when you get behind that center in this league and the speed of the game. It all happens real quick. It's all the pieces together. The sad thing about this is the head coach and the quarterback get too much credit when we lose, and too much when we win. That's the nature of it though, and that's the way it is. He understands that, and he'll get better.

Q: How do you help him get better?

Nutt: It's all about completions. He'll get better when he makes completions. We wanted to get him off to a good start. The way we were going to do that is we were going to throw the ball ten to 12 yards or less – swings, screens, eight yards. We knew they were going to bring it, we knew they were going to blitz us. So the way you get him going again is he's got to have completions. We've got to design some things to get him that confidence, like he had at Vanderbilt that first half.

Q: Injuries?

Nutt: There's a bunch of them. A lot are limping around right now. I won't know until tomorrow. There's quite a few.

Q: Enrique?

Nutt: Knee or ankle. I'm not sure.

Q: You have to be happy with your defense.

Nutt: They're playing with a lot of heart, fire, and energy. They're zeroed in on stopping the run first. They didn't give up the big play. Lot of gang tackling and a lot of pressure on the quarterback. They didn't stop. I was proud of them. They played to the end.


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