Lingering Sting

The sun rose Sunday and Ole Miss returned to practice. But the remnants of a disastrous loss to Jacksonville State were still fresh.

Head coach Houston Nutt said there were many hurt feelings in the locker room, his players noticeably somber in film study. Not that he wasn't glad to see it.

Nutt said losses like this, a complete collapse at the hands of an FCS opponent, are supposed to hurt.

"That's the thing about this game," he said. "It's a tremendous teacher."

Senior linebacker Jonathan Cornell had little insight to share, even if his defense surrendered 285 yards and 39 points in the final four frames, including two overtimes. Simply put, he's ready to put the disappointment, the sting, behind him.

"Obviously disappointment, but you've just got to keep going on," he said. "Missed opportunity, but we've got focus on Tulane now."

Senior cornerback Jeremy McGee, however, was quite the opposite. And for obvious reason.

Jeremy McGee

The secondary, debuting three new starters, was picked on at will after halftime. McGee and company allowed 252 yards, most coming as Jacksonville State chipped away to knot the score and ultimately win.

It was a loss he was still feeling two days later.

"I had a bad taste in my mouth. Nobody ever likes to lose, especially in that fashion," McGee said.

"Also, due to the fact that it seemed like it was a defensive struggle. I still have a bad taste in my mouth, but all I can look forward to is we have a game this week. Try and get that taste out of my mouth."

He sat in the team meeting room of the indoor practice facility with the look of a man shell-shocked, confused, wondering what could have possibly happened. All he could point to was lack of focus, an inability to put an inferior team away.

"Everybody came to practice yesterday with the mentality that they had to go back to work," he said. "What we did last week wasn't good enough. Everybody had the mentality that we had to come to work. Everybody had their hard hat on yesterday."

Kentrell Lockett, Ole Miss' unquestioned emotional leader, remained in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium long after both teams had left. He was in street clothes, inactive following multiple tests over the week due to an irregular heartbeat.

He couldn't believe it.

"I really credit it to just the players being lackadaisical and not actually having the fight or want-to," Lockett said.

Price (left), Lockett (right)

"I was telling them on the sidelines, ‘Y'all are better than that.' It's discouraging, but it's something you can change."

All he could be was completely honest with recorders in front of him Monday, giving his account of a season-opener gone horribly wrong.

"It was a flash of what we can be and what we turned into," he said. "If we can be consistent and play at the level we did in the first half, there could be a totally different outcome this season."

He may have avoided the masses over the weekend, but junior guard Rishaw Johnson saw the highlights on ESPN's Sportscenter.

How could he not? Jacksonville State supplied the biggest upset in college football, stealing headlines across the nation.

"It was tough to deal with. I didn't talk to too many people. I didn't want to hear what too many people had to say," Johnson said.

"I just talked to my family. I watched it on ESPN; watched the whole thing. I know we're a better team than that. A lot of people know we're a better team than that. We just can't wait to come out this week."

Johnson isn't placing any more stock into the Rebels' upcoming meeting with Tulane. He said every game is a must-win, Tulane only being the most important now because the Green Wave are next on the schedule.

But make no mistake: Johnson is ready to put a nightmarish 48 hours behind him.

"Saturday can't get here soon enough," he said.

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