After the Ole Miss Rebels left the field of massive Cowboy Stadium, Ole Miss Houston Nutt addressed a handful of Rebel beat reporters.
First things first.
"I think today's practice was better. We weren't in awe of the surroundings today," said Nutt, whose team worked out in full pads and concentrated a lot on special teams and the gameplan for the Cotton Bowl. "I'm glad they keep the massive video board on while we are practicing because it is one of a kind and it takes a while to adjust to.
"Our guys were a little more used to things in this magnificent building today."
The early plan was to take the pads off for tomorrow's practice, but Nutt has decided to go with full pads one more day.
"I still need to get all the turkey from Christmas out of them," he smiled. "We'll go one more day in full pads and then we'll start tapering off. We were going to taper off tomorrow, but decided against it."
Nutt was then peppered with a hodge-podge of different questions, starting with his thoughts on Cowboy Quarterback Zac Robinson.
"Zac is very talented and apparently a very strong leader," Houston began. "The thing that makes him very good are his feet. He has a real good arm and can get out of trouble with his feet.
"With Dez Bryant out of the lineup and some other playmakers from last year missing, it's been hard. You can see that with us not having Mike Wallace, but Zac seems to have adjusted well and is doing a fine job for them. He manages the game well and is a leader."
The focus then turned to Ole Miss' QB - Jevan Snead - and his trials and tribulations of the 2009 season.
"We were all hungry to go to Atlanta this year, but it didn't happen. The head coach and the quarterback usually draw the heat from those disappointments, it's just part of it," Nutt said. "But I loved the way we hung in there after our bubble got popped.
"Jevan had a tough game at South Carolina and took all the blame on himself when it was everyone who didn't get it done. We all had to accept that defeat and move on. Some moved on quicker than others. What I want people to think about isn't the bad games we had as a team and Jevan had, but the good ones. Jevan was awfully good against Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU, and those were some huge wins for us. That is the Jevan we believe in - the one making good decisions, which is what quarterbacking all boils down to in the long run."
On the subject of Snead facing the decision to stay at Ole Miss or go pro, Nutt did not want to talk about that much.
"I can't wait to sit down and talk to him about it after the season, but now is not the time. We want to worry about the next 60 minutes and the next game, then we will talk about the future," Nutt explained. "Before the season, I told him if he was going to be picked in the top 25-30 picks he probably should go. I've had a lot of juniors who left who made the right decision, but some who left and did not make a good decision.
"Jevan will get good advice and good guidance when that time comes. He has a great family support system. Right now, though, it's the Cotton Bowl and nothing else. Let's finish the season by getting the bad taste out of our mouth and then take care of what comes at the proper time."
Nutt said the 26 starts by Snead are invaluable, if he chooses to come back to Ole Miss for his senior season.
"Experience and having been in game situations are very, very important to any player, but maybe more with a quarterback," said Nutt. "Jevan will have that in his back pocket. We had a bunch of extra practices in Oxford and now we are getting more here and Jevan has looked very good in these workouts. It's been like an extra spring for him and all of the players."
Nutt said he believes Snead definitely has the makeup and ability to be an NFL quarterback, but he's not sure about the timing.
"That's always been the plan for him. Everybody wants to play on Sunday. He had a great year last year and it looked like the sky was the limit this year. It didn't pan out like the plan dictated in some games," Houston stated. "I think Jevan can play in the NFL. Absolutely I do. When is the question that has to be answered."
Getting to the Cotton Bowl is easing some of the disappointment of the year and emphasizing the good things the Rebels did to get to this point and this venue.
"It's like John Jerry said - look what we have been missing with all these gifts and this great trip to Dallas. Recruiting is going good. We can build off this, trust me," Nutt closed.
The gears shifted in the brief interview. The news of Urban Meyer resigning at Florida and then changing his mind to a leave of absence status made Nutt take stock of his own situation a little bit.
"We don't do 5 a.m. - 1 a.m. any more like we used to. You have to have some balance in your life. You have an immediate family and then you have your extended family of the team. You have to be a husband, a father and a coach," he noted. "I want eveyrone to be fresh so they are sharp and don't make mistakes. I want everyone in this program to have a life outside of football. That's the only way to stay healthy and keep your sanity.
"But I know what Urban is feeling. You feel the burden. You want to please everyone. You want to win every game for the fans and for the team. You want to do everything you can to win. I badly want to get the stigma of Ole Miss never having gone to Atlanta to end. I never want to hear that and want it out of our vocabulary. You get eaten up with football and that's not healthy. We have to balance things and do the best we can in life and in football. If it's not good enough, they will let you know and someone else will be doing it."
The Rebs will practice again tomorrow in Cowboy Stadium at 10:05 a.m.
Nutt focusing on the here and now
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