Animated, determined Nutt wants Rebels to fight
During his 13 years in the Southeastern Conference, Mississippi
coach Houston Nutt has been known to morph from football coach to
Southern Baptist preacher when the need arises.
Earlier this week, with the Rebels in the throes of a miserable
season, the veteran coach made this impassioned plea to the fan
base and his players: Don’t give up.
”If you think you’re hurting, you ought to just look at the tip
of my itsy-bitsy little finger and then go all the way up through
my body,” Nutt said. ”I’m sick to my stomach.”
And rightfully so after Ole Miss was pummeled by Tennessee 52-14
last weekend in Knoxville. The Volunteers, who came into that game
winless in the SEC, scored touchdown after touchdown against the
Now, Ole Miss (4-6, 1-5 SEC) is on the verge of missing the
postseason for the first time in Nutt’s three-year tenure in Oxford
– it needs to win its final two games to become bowl eligible.
That’s not going to be easy considering the Rebels travel to face
No. 5 LSU (8-1, 5-1) on Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
Nutt isn’t ready to concede the season, despite losing the past
four SEC games by an average of more than three touchdowns.
”There’s not a sin about getting knocked down,” Nutt said.
”There’s no sin about that. The sin is if you stay down.”
The reasons the Rebels are currently knocked down are
The defense has been atrocious all season and is trending
downward after giving up more than 50 points twice in the past
three games. To make matters worse, defensive tackle Lawn Scott is
done for the season after breaking his ankle against Tennessee and
backup cornerback Tony Grimes was suspended indefinitely on
Wednesday after breaking team rules.
The offense has started to crumble, too. Although senior
quarterback Jeremiah Masoli has had a solid season since
transferring from Oregon in August, he had his worst game with the
Rebels against Tennessee, completing just seven of 18 passes for 80
yards and three interceptions, including two that were returned for
Senior defensive tackle Jerrell Powe admitted he was a little
bewildered at how quickly things have fallen apart.
”I never would have thought it,” Powe said. ”Never would have
thought it coming into the season with the defensive line
expectations we had coming into the season, with the front seven,
the arrival of Jeremiah Masoli, the wide receiving corps, the
stable of running backs that we got.
”I never would have thought we’d be sitting here with the
record we’ve got.”
But that’s the stark reality, and the Rebels are trying to
figure out a way to change that against LSU, which steamrolled
Louisiana-Monroe 51-0 last weekend and appears to be getting
stronger as the season progresses.
Ole Miss has beaten the Tigers twice in a row, including last
year’s 25-23 victory that is most remembered for LSU coach Les
Miles’ questionable clock management decisions in the final
”The Ole Miss rivalry has certainly changed in my mind –
especially considering how well they’ve done against us the last
few years,” Miles said. ”We’re very respectful of that team and
we’re going to play.”
He also added that this year’s Ole Miss team was ”better than
The Rebels agree. Now they’re trying to prove it.
Nutt’s impassioned speech this week might be the first step, but
it’ll take a lot more than words to knock off LSU.
”They are big, huge, fast, and give up very few points,” Nutt
said. ”We’re playing the No. 5 team in the nation. We have to get