Houston Nutt Press Conference: 10.10



Oct. 10, 2011


Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt met with the media Monday and discussed the Rebels' upcoming game versus Alabama.

Opening Comments:

“We really took advantage of the open week. I thought our guys worked really hard. We came back yesterday with an extended practice and everyone was back ready to go and in good spirits. When we turned on the film, like we had been doing this past week, you're looking at one of the best teams in the country.  Defensively,  there have been very few teams that have been able to move the ball against Alabama. They have outstanding quickness and toughness.  They fly around to the ball, create problems and cause turnovers.  We are excited about this opportunity. This is one of the best Alabama teams to have been around in a while.”

On the Crimson Tide defense:

“They do such a good job giving you so many different looks, especially the secondary. They give Courtney Upshaw the name Jack. Coach Gruden calls those guys jokers because they are good at all hands. He can rush in, drop, move and do so any things. You have to know where he is located.  Their secondary does so many good things with man coverage and giving you the perceptions that it is going to be man coverage, and then they trade off on crossing routes.  You think it is going to be a big play and all of the sudden the corner lets them go to the next zone.  They jump off and hit the crossing route right in the mouth.   It is those things, like when they dial up blitzes at good times and keep you off balance that make them good.  Nick Saban has gotten so much more of the package in and it is difficult to game plan against them. You can say he is just a okie, or just a 4-3 cover two, not so fast.  There is a lot of variety so it is just tough. The main thing they do is stop the run. When you watch these teams they try but it doesn't happen. It is an awfully good scheme and it is a multiple of schemes with good people.”

On A.J. McCarron:

“He is not turning the ball over. That is number one. He is doing an excellent job of taking care of the ball. It helps when your best friend is Trent Richardson.  He takes a lot of the pressure off. They pick and choose their spots with him.  He doesn't force it or make errors and throw it to the other team. The number one thing he does so well at quarterback is protect the ball. It is the most important thing you have and that is what he does.”

On Alabama's running backs:

“Eddie Lacy is a big back. They have hard-nosed running backs. Trent is really hard to bring down. He does an excellent job of breaking tackles.  It helps that they have a good offensive line and they are working well together.”

On being an underdog:

“I always try to be as honest as I can with our guys. I thought last week we got better as a football team. From Fresno State on we got better.  That is what is important.  Everyone has a responsibility to get better. Whether you are playing against the Green Bay Packers or Alabama, there is not much difference. You have to play extremely hard and eliminate mistakes. That is what we have been putting our emphasis on.  We want to get better, eliminate mistakes and have a tremendous attitude. We have a great opportunity.”

On being more physical:

“You only go by how you practice. I thought we really challenged them hard. We had three very good physical days last week. Yesterday was the same way. They responded each day. They are trying to get better. They know they have to tackle better and wrap Trent Richardson up, because he is a Heisman Trophy candidate. He breaks a lot of tackles on film.”

On Mike Marry:

“He has a tremendous heart and attitude. He has to wear a boot for the first part of the week each week and somehow gets back and is ready to go again by Thursday or Friday. We were kidding that how we would like to see what he is like at full speed. He has a lot of character.  There is nothing like the heart he has.”

On Alabama:

“This is a better team than the last few years because of their depth and what they do on defense. They haven't given up many explosive plays and plays over 20 yards. They do an excellent job of not letting you cross that last white line.  They are good tacklers.  Their secondary is awfully physical. Their front has always been physical, their linebackers are always tough, but their secondary are good tacklers. They enjoy contact and don't mind getting up in your face and competing each play.  They are a solid football team.”

On the offensive line:

“We will see how the week goes, but we have been working hard with AJ Hawkins and Evan Swindall at center.  Patrick Junen and  Aaron Morris are back in the mix at left guard. It has been a good battle there and everyone is working hard to compete. We will decide later this week who is going to start.  You have to come to work every day and find out who is going to be the best. We are going to put the best ones out there.”

On Evan Swindall:

“I really think he has worked hard and his intensity is good. His practice habits are outstanding. Sometimes guys wonder if they are going to play and their practice habits reflect that.  He has been the exact opposite. That is what you appreciate. The intensity at that position is hard, especially with snapping the ball each play. This is the game he started last year. Jared Duke, Patrick Junen and Evan all started in this game last year.  Those three guys are in the mix.”

On the open date:

“I think it works both ways.  We don't have anything to do with the schedule. We took advantage of the situation and put Randall Mackey in some third down situations.  Tyrone [Nix] used the defense to  blitz him a bit and see how he read things. He is getting better and I am excited about how he is approaching things and studying the game.  I like the way he is handling practice.  He is going through reads and the main thing he is doing is not turning the ball over. That is huge.” 

On Alabama's defense:

“Coach Saban does such a good job with the defense, but there are some veterans out there leading the way.  Dont'a Hightower is taking on the Rolando McClain role.   Their secondary is confident and all played last year. Returnees are the most important thing. They have experience and you add a little bit here and there and it creates a lot of confidence. When other offensives aren't scoring against you it creates a lot of confidence. That is a good feeling for a defense.”

On quarterback depth in the SEC:

“I think that it speaks volumes about how physical our league is. If you watch teams that have played Alabama the last few weeks their quarterbacks have not been in the games very long. You have to have depth. You need three or four on campus at all times and sometimes people are going up to five. It is hard to keep that many around because they all want to play. That is what is difficult about that position.  It is different than linebacker or receiver where you are rolling people in and out of the game. They all want the ball and they all want to play. You have to have the ability to say next.”

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