Nutt: 'It hurts and it should'

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt's Monday press conference prior to the UAB game.

Nutt: It was good to get back on the practice field yesterday. I thought our attitude was very good. We went about things the right way after watching film. It's tough after a loss like that. It hurts and it should. I cant' say enough about our defense. They really responded. They played with a lot of passion and energy. You're just hoping for one (offensive) play to make it 9-7 or 16-10. The atmosphere was tremendous and you love to have that. But we can't do anything about that one now, and you learn from it and get better. We started out the right way yesterday.

Q: Saturday is the sixth game of the season. Your record last year at this time was the same? What about your team this year?

Nutt: I believe we're ahead of where we were last year and we build on that. I love the way our defense played. The encouragement those guys are giving the offense. I really believe we're not that far off. If you watch the film, we see we stopped ourselves, missed blocks, dropped passes. Little things like that I know we can get better. I know we can do a better job (playing) and a better job of coaching. You know your defense is playing good enough. Special teams has been good but don't ever want to give up a blocked punt. Because our defense is playing so well, all you want to do is score points. You're ahead of where you were last year. Let's go.

Q: Do you see things at all coming together for the offense so that it can get better?

Nutt: This time last year we didn't know what we had. After the Vanderbilt game (last year), I really didn't know what to expect. I still feel there is a lot there (offensively) and that we can have a really good team this year. What's important is that it's a mindset. If you get out of this circle and off of the practice field, you may hear things that are negative. That's the world we live in. It's easy to sit on the 35th row and say this or that is wrong or terrible. What I'm saying is, there's a lot of football left and a lot of good things left.

Q: Who takes Marshay's role?

Nutt: That's a major blow for two reasons. He's doing well on punt return and we can put him on anybody as a coverage corner. He can play man against anybody in this league. Jeremy McGee and Marcus Temple are the next two guys who have to step up.

Q: Any redshirts come off?

Nutt: That's a possibility. Don't know yet.

Q: How did you think Grandy did on kickoff return?

Nutt: I thought Jesse did an outstanding job. There was one or two times he should have stayed in the end zone, but that's just youth. But the times he did take it, he can find the crease. He's a guy who can take it back for us. He's really good.

Q: What made you want Grandy back there?

Nutt: We didn't know about him physically (early). He had been sick and lost some weight. He gives us a spark. He's a difference maker. He can go the distance. Earlyon with the sickness and youth we were unsure, but as practice time went on, with Brandon Bolden doing so many things for us, this was a good opportunity to get Grandy into the mix.

Q: How hard is it to get your guys back up this week against UAB with it not being an SEC game?

Nutt: This is a very tough week. UAB had a week off. This is where you leadership and character come through and are critical. Got to be real positive, and there's nothing like winning. Get that taste of victory. Anything can happen. This is a difficult league. Seven weeks of football left. It's still early. One game at a time and we've got to start this week.

Q: Will there be any OL changes?

Nutt: We'll for sure change up Rishaw Johnson. In that spot goes Brandon Green, and really going to work hard with A.J. Hawkins along with (Bobby) Massie. Those three guys will get a lot of looks and a lot of practice time and hopefully some game time. But for sure right now we're going into the game with Brandon Green as a starter.

Q: How do you get the receivers to improve?

Nutt: It's going back to work, as hard as that was Saturday. After you see the film, the only way you get better is go back out there with an attitude of not going to let that happen again and do better. Run better routes, get separation, take care of the ball, tuck it away, and be a playmaker. Hopefully you'll see a lot of improvement. It's s mindset. Be physical. Create separation. Let our scout team be a little more aggressive and stay on top of those guys and create a different look for them. That way they will work to get better, work to get open. Can't go through the motions. There has to be a real sense of urgency each time they run a route.

Q: How nice is it to have a defense like that?

Nutt: It was awesome to see what they did Saturday. For Alabama to be that deep (in UM territory) and come away with field goals. This is my first experience depending so much on a defense. We've to score points. We've got to move the chains. We've got to stay on the field. It's important we improve. We can still get better. And what I like about our defense is they still have an attitude that they can improve. That's when you have a defense that's special. A lot of credit goes to Tyrone and that defensive staff for keeping them hungry and their attitude right.

Q: Is the OL having physicality issues or not communicating?

Nutt: Two things jump out at you if you watch the film. One, a couple of physical mismatches and secondly also missed assignments. This guy one play, another guy another play. All that adds up against a great defense. You can't do that. Everybody has to do their job. Try to create a running lane and also create protection. The hardest thing in football is to be third and long against a great defense. Go get 12 yards. And they come at you all different ways, and you won't see the same blitz twice. Get ready and good luck. How do you stop that? Get better on first down. At Vanderbilt we were very efficient on first down. Let's get four yards on a consistent basis. Let's take care of the ball and don't turn it over. It's OK to punt, but not all the time.

Q: Have the veterans pulled their weight so far this year?

Nutt: They've got to get better. I thought Bradley Sowell has probably made the most improvement. He's picked things up, protecting better, run blocking better. We depend on John (Jerry) so much. We got right a lot for a reason. We depend on him to dominate his guy. They can all be better. It's everybody.

Q: Talk about UAB's QB. How do you prepare for him?

Nutt: We'll take Raymond Cotton and let him run around (in practice). Their QB is a really good runner and is really about half their offense. We've got do a really good job of hitting him. I think our defense will be up to that. He's the guy that makes their offense go.

Q: Injuries?

Nutt: Andy Hartmann played 20 plays and held up. He should be fine. Marshay is probably most questionable. I don't know if he'll be ready to go. Cracked rib and a kidney problem. Justin Smith is coming and is still a little rusty. By midseason it's common to have a few injuries and shoulders and ankles. Patrick Trahan is so tough. D.T. still keeps re-injuring his ankle just to keep him from being full speed. I hope by Saturday he well be OK. Only Marshay is probably out.

Q: Are you encouraging Jevan to run more?

Nutt: I think it's opening up more, but don't be afraid to take off. So I am. He does that really well. If he had four or five throws back, we have four or five first downs and it ‘s different. He's a guy that's taken a lot. I have a lot of confidence in Jevan. I really do. What he can do as a leader of our team and as a quarterback. He'll take off and run. We'll always have a couple of plays designed for him to run it and help us.

Q: Any one certain area that is breaking down on punt.

Nutt: We had a new protection which was a shield protection. Our punter's moving a little too much to the right. We'll get that corrected. I feel real confident about that.

Q: UAB was off this week.

Nutt: I'm more concerned about us, but in looking at it, they're athletic. They beat Rice. They beat Southern Miss. They could have beaten Troy and SMU. They could easily be 4-0 or 4-1. Those Alabama kids are athletic as we all know. You know they're good players. This is a very tough game this week. We're coming off a lot of emotion and energy. I told our offense I expected them to be on the field for more than 30 minutes, making first downs and making plays and keeping the defense rested.

Q: Any chance to see another QB for you against UAB.

Nutt. I'd like to (if the situation arises) But I really believe in Jevan and we need to get his confidence as high as we can. I'm not afraid to put Nathan Stanley or Billy Tapp in. I'd like to get Nathan Stanley in. But we've got to win the ballgame first and foremost.

Q: Is Jevan's confidence the biggest issue right now?

Nutt: As a former quarterback, I know what he's feeling. Coming off a loss, you know you can play better. But everybody can play better around him as well. I saw him come back yesterday. I know his mindset. I understand his commitment. An awesome person who wants to succeed. He's coachable. He wants to please. He just needs one of those games. He needs some positives to happen for him and everybody else do their job along with him, and I feel we can be a really good offense.

Q: With Marshay out for now, what about punt return?

Nutt: We'll work Jesse Grandy and maybe Derrick Herman. I'd rather not have Dexter there. I don't know how a true freshman will handle both. We'll work hard this week and put some pressure on him with gunners coming after Grandy and see how that affects him. That's probably the biggest question today is that spot. The loss of Marshay is a big, big loss.

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