Nutt: 'I'm glad we're playing them in Oxford'

The following is Coach Houston Nutt's Monday press conference prior to the Rebels' game against LSU.

Nutt: We got back on the field yesterday. We got some of the soreness out. Had good film study and now we're trying to get prepared for this game. LSU looks good. They always do. Seems like they're defensive linemen have been there forever. They're very talented, so fast and strong. It's probably one of the best defenses we'll face, them and Alabama. It's going to be a real challenge. Offensively they're very athletic, probably two of the tallest, quickest receivers we'll face. Their backs run hard, and so we've got to get ready to go. We've got to have a good plan, and I'm glad we're playing them here in Oxford.

Q: With Charles Scott out with a collar bone injury, how has their running game changed?

Nutt: They didn't change anything. They kept the same running plays. They just put another one in there. He looks pretty good. Keiland Williams. He's strong, runs hard, feet moving on contact, good second effort. Stevan Ridley as well. He's good too.

Q: Concerning Dexter, is it more about trickeration or is it more about lining up and seeing if the other team can stop him.

Nutt: I don't know about trickeration. It's hard to trick these guys in the SEC. They're smart. These defensive coordinators are very good. What we did a good job of is we believed in what we were doing. Guys came off the ball and blocked very well to give Dexter a chance. It was the same plays we've been running. When we asked Jevan to throw, he did it very well. Shay made some good catches. Dexter, Brandno. Ferbia Allen made one of the biggest catches of the day to keep a drive going and get a new set of first downs.So that's what it takes on offense. It's being consistent with blocking, execution, being accurate with the football and protecting the football.

Q: Will you stay with the same lineup up front on offense?

Nutt: Yes we will. We'll stay with the same one right now. I thought Bobby Massie did very well. He had an illegal procedure and a couple of missed assignments. But overall to have seven knockdowns and a pancake in a big ballgame. I was very proud of what he and John did on the right side. Weknew what John Jerry would do. He was outstanding. Daverin Geralds, Reid Neely, Bradley Sowell, all those guys are getting better. These guys did a good job of run blocking. Got to continue to work on pass blocking. We're getting ready to face a real rush now and you've got to do a really good job of protection.

Q: What defensive adjustments did you make at halftime Saturday?

Nutt: Didn't make any. I think the one thing is that Ty (Nix) did play a little bit more zone this past week. We've been playing a little more man before this. Mixed in more zone this week. Did a really good job first and foremost stopping the run. All eyes were on the run. Stop that and you don't want to give up that play action deep ball. As you could tell the safeties and everybody were focused in on Hardesty first. And then go react to the ball.

Q: Talk about Brandon Bolden's role and the change of pace he provides.

Nutt: What Brandon Bolden gives us is we have the most athletic backfield now. Brandon has been a tailback and now he's a fullback type or an H back. It allows you to throw the ball to basically a tailback. He gets on backers quicker. He does a really good job. It just helps us a lot in the passing game. Andy Hartmann is still our physical guy. We can still throw him the ball a little bit. He's more of our big blocking back. When you have the combination of Dexter and Brandon, you have two good tailbacks that help one another. You're not afraid to throw them the ball. Brandon is unselfish enough to go block for his teammate. That helps Andy where he's not the pounder for 70 plays. It gives him a little bit of a relief.

Q: Talk about your seniors since it's their final home game.

Nutt: They've been really something. I've been very proud of them. Two weeks ago probably even you guys didn't think we'd win another game. But they did. They believed. That's what they're about. That's that ownership. That's what you rely on. Every time I meet with them every Thursday night, the look in their eyes. Kendrick Lewis, who's all over the field. Kickoff team. Punt team. Marshay Green, a guy who had played wideout all his life to go and play defensive back. Just been awesome. So you won't ever forget them. Marcus Tillman, Patrick Trahan. Gerald Harris and Emmanuel Stephens were the first two guys we brought in here. Marcus Tillman. Quiet guy that does everything you ask him to do. They just keep believing. Back to back bowls now. You rely on that group that you're talking about. I'm glad you brought them up.

Q: Back in the summer how soon did you find out about Dexter's wreck?.

Nutt: I knew pretty quickly. Got a text. I knew fairly quickly. My first question was how bad hurt are you? Are you OK? When I got to talk to him later that evening, he was still pretty shook up. He knew how fortunate he was. There's no question about that. Fortunate to be alive and well. He maybe had a couple of bruises.

Q: Can you sense maybe an excitement of a big time bowl for motivation these next two weeks and not just any bowl?

Nutt: They know that. With all the information out there, they understand that. What we talked about is how their preparation was. The weeks we came out ready to go, it was about preparation and leadership. So they know now. They see the light now. That's commitment and attitude. Anybody can let go of the rope. Anybody can quit and say we just can't do it. But that's where you fall back on those guys. They'll be really successful. Kendrick Lewis,Patrick, Marcus Tillman. Billy Tapp is another guy who will graduate. He's going to be successful, because of their character and attitude. We don't have to worry about that. It's about winning. The more you win the better it gets. The warmer it gets. All that.

Q: Did they ever pinpoint Patrick's foot problem?

Nutt: Never did. Tim Mullins and his staff. Doctor Dennis, boy they deserve a lot of credit getting these guys ready. You get a call Friday and they say Kentrell Lockett has 103 fever. Patrick Trahan can't walk and is on crutches. They ruled out gout and other things. He's had some tough ankle problems throughout the year. He couldn't go through warmup. He looked bad in warmup, and we were really surprised he came back and had a good game and played hard. He's a lot better. Not 100 percent now but better.

Q: How has Brandon taken on his new role?

Nutt: He has such a great attitude. He's handled it well. He looks at it like he's a part of the team. And when his number is called, he does what we ask him to do. If we need him to run it into the end zone like at the end of the game, he does. He's a good blocker. We ask him to run routes. Very few backs can run good routes. He has multiple roles. It's not like he's not the feature anymore. He's a very valuable piece of the puzzle. And he knows that. What an unselfish guy.

Q: It appeared your team's level of conditioning last year was very high given the way they finished the season. How is their conditioning this season at this point?

Nutt: We're in really good shape with all the guys we've had beat up and without an open date here the last nine weeks going on 10. We're in really good shape. Coach Decker and his staff do a good job in the summer. We keep our strength levels up. Our guys can go a full four quarters. You dpon't see anybody bending over. We're in good shape.

Q: Has Emmanuel Stephens been overshadowed, or has he just gotten better?

Nutt: Both. He's gotten better and he has been overshadowed a little. He's got one speed. He plays so hard each snap. He's very valuable to us. He can be on special teams. He can be on punt return teams, kickoff teams. He's doing a very good job for us.

Q: When the pro scouts ask you about Dexter McCluster and they ask you about his size, what do you say?

Nutt: We get that a lot. They watch him on film and then they go to the field and say, is that Dexter? They can't believe it. I say, that's him. They say, boy he's not very big. Usually that's everybody's response, especially if they're here on Thursday without shoulder pads . When they see him play against Tennessee, Alabama, the big guys, they take another look. This guy can be a kick returner, a punt returner, a slot back, tailback, wideout. He can do it all. He deserves a real good look and I think he's going to, regardless of his size.

Q: How many positions does he know?

Nutt: All of them. He has extremely high football intelligence. Kent was saying that the first spring we had with him. Tell him one time, he knows how to adjust a route. It's amazing. He knows tailback, fullback, H, Z, X. And don't' forget Wild Rebel.

Q: How do you get Pat Pattterson back going?

Nutt: That's a good question. He's a guy that's been a little bit of a mystery to us. He's got to be a little more consistent with his life, more consistent with practice. We all know he has tools. But this is the fastest game in America. It's not easy for guys to step off Friday night, because they've been a top recruit with a lot of name recognition. OK, now I'm ready to play in the SEC against the fastest corners in America. It's not east. To me it comes down to consistency. Every day in the film room. Take it to the field and get better. But he has to work at it.

Q: Talk about the LSU quarterback situation.

Nutt: Probably expect Jordan (Jefferson) to play, We fully expect that. Don't know for sure. We'll prepare for both of them. Jarrett Lee, we knew about him coming out of high school. A highly recruited guy. Good arm. Jefferson can do a little more with his feet. When things break down, he can make it happen. Both of them are very good. (Jefferson) is much improved from last year.

Q: Does a game with LSU get your juices flowing?

Nutt: It had better. You know they'll be big, fast, well prepared. You've got to have everybody on deck and ready to go. It's always an exciting time. We always play them toward the end of November. This place will be rocking Saturday. CBS. If you can't get excited about this one in November, something's wrong.

Q: What is the biggest improvement in LSU's defense this year over last year?

Nutt: The biggest thing is I don't see many explosive plays. By that I mean I don't see many plays over 15 or 20 yards. They run to the football. You think something is open, but a big hole closes up. Their linebackers can run. Chad Jones is something else. He's 6-3, 231. Knock your head off. He covers like a corner. That's the kind of guy you want. That's how you draw up a safety in the SEC. Since Kendrick is leaving, we've got to go find one. So they're just playing better. Coach Chavis, their defensive coordinator, has done an awesome job with them. They believe in him, you can tell that. They're in sync. They mix up their blitzes to keep you off balance. And they have a rush now, a real rush. They've got some guys coming off that edge. They can move, they can run to the football.

OM Spirit Top Stories