Houston Nutt Press Conference: 03.28



March 28, 2011

Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt met with the media on Monday and discussed his squad as the Rebels begin spring practice.


Opening Comments:  

"We are excited.  Signing day was a big high and we went right on and had a good offseason.  We put them through it.  They had a tremendous attitude and work ethic and that is what it's all about.  We had a good recruiting season and that really paid off.  It's exciting to get back on the field and start working with these guys.  We are looking forward to the first day.  We are going to be inside today and are looking to do the first two days in helmets.  I'm excited about the attitude of our guys and the way they have gone about things.  This has been one of the most difficult off-seasons we have had in a long time, and we wanted to create a good attitude for what comes next.  Every time we ran one more sprint they wanted to know what was coming next.  They wanted us to let them have it.  Its time to get on the field.  We have been wearing them out in the weight room and I know they are anxious to get on the field."

On the offense:

"One of the things to be looking forward to is the offensive line.  We feel like we have some depth there with guys who have played.  Bobby Massey and Bradley Sowell have gotten stronger, bigger, quicker and are smarter.  I'm excited for those two guys.  Inside, I think A.J. Hawkins will step up.  There is going to be good competition with him, Patrick Junen, Logan Clair and Jared Duke who all have experience and have gotten bigger and stronger.  Matt Hall and Emmanuel McCray are going to be in the mix too.  We are going to find the best combination to put out there. At tight end, Cody Allen has a good sense as far as knowing what to do. Right now Z. Mason really wants to go play basketball and I am trying to talk him out of it, but there is only so far you can go.  He has worked hard and went through all the offseason, but in his heart he wants to go play basketball.  We are looking to move Alex Williams to tight end because of the Z. move.  I think his athleticism will help us.  Jamal Mosley is coming in and I think that will be a big lift for us.  I can't wait to see Vincent Sanders.  He works really hard and has a great attitude.  I can't wait to see how he catches the ball and takes coaching from Coach Gunner Brewer.  Melvin Harris and Ja-Mes Logan are guys we will count on to be consistent.  We feel good at running back because of Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis because they have been through it.  Jeff Scott is someone else we're excited to see because as much as he is fast, he has also gotten bigger and stronger thanks to Coach Decker in the weight room.  We feel good about the backfield.  Devin Thomas can do it all in the backfield, especially with protections.  He is a solid back who understands the offense.  Quarterbacks are a group we are anxious to watch.  We want to chose the guy who is the most likely to get us into the end zone and be the most consistent at taking care of the ball for us.  I'm excited about Randal Mackey, Nathan Stanley, Zack Stoudt and Barry Brunetti.  All four will compete, get reps and get their chance." 

On the defense:

"Defensively, things will start with D.T. Shackelford.  He has been a leader for us.  Joel Kight, Mike Marry and Clarence Jackson have all stepped up in the offseason and have done everything we asked them to do and a little bit more.  We were hit the hardest by graduation at the defensive line.  Brian Bennett, Carlton Martin and Corey Gaines will get a lot of work, along with Gilbert Pena.  He is a bigger guy who is a little older.  He will really help us.  Carlos Thompson and Gerald Rivers have come a long way.  Carlos has really improved and I cannot wait to see him perform.  The secondary is thin because Marcus Temple had sports hernia surgery and will be out for the entire spring.  We are excited about Charles SawyerBrishen Mathews is going to be good at safety.  Ivan Nicholas and Frank Crawford have improved their bodies and skill level. 

On special teams:

"We will spend a lot of time on our kicking game.  Tyler Campbell, Andrew Ritter and Bryson Rose played last year and that is a good feeling knowing they have been out there before."

On mental and physical preparation in the offseason:

"We didn't finish things well last year.  That is partly my fault because of the way we prepared during the offseason.  I didn't feel like we had the offseason that we needed last year.  I always feel like they can always go a little further than they think they can.  Its up to us as coaches to get them to that point.  We emphasized going a little faster and tougher this year."

On Matt Hall:

"Matt Hall will be a right tackle, right guard or a left guard.  We are trying to find the right spot for him.  Coach Markuson has been trying to move some guys around and it is a good problem when you have that kind of competition going on.  Matt is one of those guys who can be moved from a tackle to a guard."

On NCAA waiver status for Kentrell Lockett and Barry Brunetti:

"We still have not heard about Lockett.  He could not go through spring drills anyway because he is rehabbing.  He will be at practice watching.  Brunetti will go through practice as if he is going to play.  We just sent off the appeals so we will be waiting to see, though it could take a few months."

On expectations for the defense:

"We have to play fast.  When you play fast, you have to really know what you are doing.  We may be simple in some areas, but we are going to play extremely fast and tough.  We are going to get off blocks and be consistent in tackling.  When you miss tackles you give up big plays.  I feel like we missed a lot of tackles last year and gave up too many big plays.  We cannot do that again.  We are going to play as fast as we can.  This spring is really important for them and I can't wait to see how they respond.  I give credit to our coaches.  They have done a good job of injecting a lot of enthusiasm."

On quarterbacks:

"You always look for that guys that has `it'.  When a guy steps into the huddle and immediately ten sets of eyes lock onto him and follow him; that is what you want.  You want them following him every play.  We need someone who will put us in the end zone without turning it over and giving up a bad play.  It is the guy who makes things happen and puts his team in the end zone consistently.  We are trying to find out who is going to be the guy, and right now we don't really know.  The base of our system is going to be the same.  We are going to run the football.  What we need in addition to that is a quarterback who can be very accurate and make throws.  We love a quarterback who can extend the play.  It is hard in our league where everything is blocked perfectly and you need a quarterback who can extend the play.  He has to have "escapability".  Our system is looking good.  David Lee and what he brings in the passing game is good, as well as what Gunter Brewer has brought to the playbook.  Overall, it probably won't look as pretty because we are throwing so many new things at them system wise.  We want things to look complicated but be pretty simple in reality.  We are going to give them all repetitions every day.  We have an advantage having so many offensive linemen that can handle a few more plays than normal.  Right now when we go out there we will have three sets of guys who can give different looks.  Our receivers are where we are the thinnest, and we will have to save their legs some days.  We are going to take it one day at a time and see who comes to the top."

On coaching the secondary:

"Coach Burns will have the corners and Coach Vaughn will take the safeties.  They will all start out meeting together as a complete defense with Coach Tyrone Nix, and then when they break off in drills there will still be unity."

On the offensive line:

"We felt like with Chris Gill and Patrick Junen we could move them out there to help us with the run game.  Alex Williams will help us in the passing game.  Jamal Mosley will also be of help."

On Coach Keith Burns:

"He brings confidence and is a big boost to the player's attitudes.  You will see every single day how contagious he is with the players.  He brings their confidence to another level.  It is how he translates doing things like drills in practice to the players.  It is hard to explain how he affects their confidence levels, but he makes them go further and try harder."

On the inexperience of the defensive line:

"I had all the confidence in the world last year with all the experience we had and I think we took it for granted.  They have to grow up now.  We have to emphasize that we can't take anything for granted this time.  I like the way they work and go about things.  Last year we thought we had the best defensive line in the SEC, and we cannot do that this year.  We have to stay hungry and keep pushing."

On potential playmakers:

"Brandon Bolden has been so solid for us.  Jeff Scott is another guy who is consistent.  Vincent Sanders is really growing up.  We signed some talented guys who aren't here yet.  Nickolas Brassell, Tobias Singelton and Donte Moncrief are all extremely talented.  We have to stay on the field and take care of the ball."

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