Houston Nutt Meets The Press

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt met the media Monday. Here is what he had to say.

Opening Statement:

Good start yesterday. Always good to be on the field. I loved our enthusiasm. Give Coach (Don) Decker a lot of credit because it was a hot day. Gotta make sure our guys get enough water and stay hydrated. Everybody made it through. There's a lot of energy and anxiety. I was proud how we went through that first day. It all starts with our defense and their leadership in the trenches. Kentrell Lockett, Jerrell Powe, Teddy Laurent, Jonathan Cornell, Lawon Scott, Allen Walker, Johnny Brown. Those guys have played a lot of ball. I've told our guys to watch the way they practice and go through drills. That's what we want. There are still some young corners we've got to keep bringing along. Guys like Frank Crawford. We've moved him from safety to corner. Feel good about Jeremy McGee and Marcus Temple. Charles Sawyer had a good spring and summer. Frank Crawford rounds that out with four. At safety, Damien Jackson, Johnny brown, Fon Ingram are three guys we feel we can count on. We need one more of those young safeties, like Brishen Matthews, to step up. Offensively we have to make the most progress. We've got some guys who haven't played in the SEC. A.J. Hawkins had a good day yesterday and had a good summer. Evan Swindall is a guy behind him. I feel good about their work ethic and attitude. We're trying to get through a lot, throwing a lot at them, going through the playbook. Defense is a little ahead. I like going good against good. At tight end Ferbia Allen has done a good job trying to keep his weight up. He's about 252 right now. Proud of him. Reggie Hicks is a senior, a guy we'll count on and will use in that two tight end situation. Zack Mason has really had a good summer. Layton Jones is the fourth guy. We want to get the ball to those guys a little more. Receiver we're still missing a couple of guys that should be here soon. But the ones here, Markeith Summers, Lionel Breaux, Melvin Harris, these guys have stepped up and they must continue to. We're going to put them in some very difficult situations and let them understand they'll be depended on as go-to guys to help us get out of some problem areas. Tailbacks look good – Brandon Bolden, Enrique Davis. We moved Derrick Herman over from safety. He looks good. Then there's Rodney Scott. The freshman that caught everybody's eye yesterday was Jeff Scott. That guy can run. We're excited about him. Devin Thomas has been a good solid guy for us. At fullback E.J. Epperson and H.R. Greer have been working hard. One of our young backs that could go fullback or tailback is Nicholas Parker. It's early. We just don't know who is going to hang in there, sometimes they get homesick or tired. But I'm excited about them. What about quarterback? Nathan Stanley had an excellent spring. He understands better than anyone right now. He had a good start. I'm so glad Randall Mackey is here. He can really throw the football. Good strong arm. One of the quickest releases I've seen. Looked good throwing the football. Jeremiah Masoli, I'm glad he's here. He brings a real huddle presence. You can tell he's played a lot of football. In the kicking game, that's one area we've been good in the last couple of years. We've got to find us a field goal kicker. Between Andrew Ritter, David Hankins, Bryson Rose, those guys are fighting it out. Good thing is our kicker and punter are back. Andrew Ritter and David Hankins have kicked off before. Tyler Campbell has punted before. I'm excited about those guys. Deep snapper. With Wesley's injury, I'm glad Will Denny is here. He had an excellent day yesterday. He can really zip the ball back there, and I'm glad he's on our team.

Q: Where is your leadership on the offensive side of the ball?

Nutt: Bradley Sowell has really come on. He's gotten stronger and is confident. Rishaw Johnson is another guy who has worked hard and come a long way. But it's gotta come from the quarterback. Markeith Summers is another. Lionel Breaux. Reggie Hicks. We don't have many but we've got enough.

Q: What does adding Masoli do for this team?

Nutt: The first thing is you have to have three quarterbacks. Many teams have four or five. Watching yesterday, brand new playbook, new terminology, new snap count, didn't phase him. Steps right in the huddle. Commands respect, talks with authority. You could see how smooth he was in handling the ball and taking a new playbook that he jumps right in. You can tell he's played football. He's been in the Rose Bowl. I'm glad he's on our football team. I'm even more excited his teammates have accepted him and wanted him here.

Jeremiah Masoli

Q: On some of the background checks, what were some of the things you learned?

Nutt: The biggest thing that helped me was when we got him on campus and looked him in the eyes and explained the situation we're in. And telling him you need us more than we need you right now. I think he understood. I love how humble and genuine he was. Then I talked to his mother and got to know here a little bit. I just felt good knowing he knew this was his last chance. Yes he's made some mistakes, and he knows he can't make anymore. I'm glad that he's here.

Q: Did you have to sell the administration?

Nutt: Basically when Raymond Cotton left, I had a meeting with Pete Boone. I told him our situation was unusual. I've never recruited for a season in July and August. I never recruited a player that could come in and help immediately and one that graduated in three years. But in explaining it, I'd either have to go get a junior college guy or a guy like Jeremiah Masoli. Pete trusted our judgment. He knew I'd given some guys second chances and helped their lives. And you have an obligation to your team and fans. Our players were pretty adamant about everything. I went to Nathan Stanley first when Raymond Cotton left because I love how he had kept the team together this summer in voluntary workouts. He's done and excellent job. And Randall Mackey is here. You're concerned about that, because as a quarterback, you all want to play. And there's just one ball. I like what Nathan Stanley said. Coach, I understand what you have to do. Our players jumped on board. I think Pete trusted us enough that this wasn't going to disrupt our team. Once we got Jeremiah here and he felt one heartbeat and the togetherness, he wanted to be a part of this in the worst way.

Q: is the QB job open?

Nutt: If we played tonight, Nathan Stanley would start. But all quarterbacks know you have to perform. It makes everybody better. One day and a time and everybody keep improving.

Q: Does the third option at QB allow you to do other things with Mackey than just straight QB?

Nutt: What excites you about Randall Mackey is he has that escapability and he can move. But he has a quick release. I've never seen a guy like him. He takes it and throws it and that ball is spinning. You felt much better walking off the field with three QBs. We as coaches yesterday said ‘We did the right thing.'

Q: Talk about what you need from Kentrell Lockett?

Nutt: Kentrell has to be at his best this year. So does Wayne Dorsey. He's in a starting role. That's why we recruited him. Gerald Rivers has to come on. Maybe Carlos Thompson will get a good look. That's a critical area that we've lost a lot of experience in, and we lean on Kentrell Lockett for sure.

Q: With shorter QBs, how does that change things?

Nutt: We have players here that are playmakers. Randall Mackey and Jeremiah Masoli have strong arms. They have the ability to make people miss when the pocket breaks down. You can just about count on five times in the games that a quarterback has to make something happen because defenses in this league are too good. Escape, make something happen, those things are important.

Jerrell Powe

Q: Why do you think Jerrell Powe stayed here and stuck it out through the years?

Nutt: First of all, he loves Ole Miss. He went through a lot and persevered. He's such a good teammate and good leader. He wanted to play at Ole Miss, and nothing was going to stop him. That's the attitude you want. They graduate, make plays on Saturdays, they do what's right, good citizens. He went to Birmingham to Media Day and won a lot of hearts there. He's genuine, unselfish, has a good heart and can play football.

Q: Have you talked to Jevan Snead, and did he make a mistake?

Nutt: I haven't had an opportunity lately. I hope someone picks him up. I encouraged him to stay. I thought it would be better for him to come back. But his heart was set on it. Before the South Carolina game, Mel Kiper had him the No. 1 pick. He's a good quarterback and can help somebody's team. He's a good person, and I hope makes somebody's team.

Q: Talk about your linebackers.

Nutt: Starts with Jonathan Cornell and Allen Walker. You've got two guys that are veterans. Two guys that can play. Then there are guys like Joel Kight, D.T. Shackelford, Mike Marry, they can run, they can hit you, and so Ty (Nix) will teach those guys more than one position in case there's injury. Clarence Jackson has come in at 234 pounds as a true freshman. Alex Williams is athletic and we have to find him a home. You feel good at linebacker right now. Same way at linemen. Carlos Thompson, Carlton Martin, Clarence Jackson are three freshmen that were impressive yesterday.

Q: As for the upcoming schedule, is there one game you're really looking forward to?

Nutt: (Nutt smiles, laughter from audience). Jacksonville State. That's it. Jacksonville State. I worked for Jack Crowe (JSU head coach). He's a really good football coach. He had Florida State beat (last year). He's going to run option every which way. It's going to be 2:30 in the afternoon and 100 degrees. We've got to be ready to go. Our first game is that first weekend in September. You have to be ready to go.

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