|July 27, 2009||Excerpts from Terry Price interview||no comments|
|July 27, 2009||Atlanta or bust? Not necessarily||5 comments|
|July 27, 2009||Looking back this time last year||3 comments|
|July 27, 2009||Today's Agenda||no comments|
|July 26, 2009||Middling expectations and a grabbag of notes||10 comments|
|July 24, 2009||Media Days - Friday||15 comments|
|July 24, 2009||Media preseason All-SEC team||no comments|
|July 23, 2009||Media Days - Thursday||22 comments|
|July 22, 2009||Media Days - Wednesday||18 comments|
|July 22, 2009||Settling in at Media Days||1 comments|
A few tid-bits here from Ole Miss defensive line coach Terry Price. It's an interesting scenario with the defensive line in that the unit is expected to be among the best in the country, even with with loss of an AP All-American in Peria Jerry, yet the group will have its third position coach in three seasons.
Price was with former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville for 15 years - one at Texas A&M, four at Ole Miss and 10 at Auburn. That's a long time with one boss.
How have you meshed with a new head coach after 15 years with Tommy Tuberville?
Any time you make a change it’s different, but Houston Nutt is a first-class coach. There are a lot of similarities in my opinion as far as them being great guys and great leaders of football teams. I heard a lot of great things about Houston before I came to Ole Miss. Now that I’m here, it’s been better than what I heard as far as what kind of guy he is, what kind of motivator he is. All the things you hear about him, it’s a blessing to work with a guy like that. He does a great job. He’s been successful wherever he’s been. He’s a great guy to work for, and the players love him to death.
What was it like for you as an opposing DL coach to play Houston Nutt's teams?
I hated playing his teams to be honest with you. As a defensive coach playing that offense, one thing you knew going into that game was you better strap it on. You better make sure that chinstrap’s tight, because it was going to be a physical football game, it was going to be a fourth-quarter football game, and they were going to try and physically beat you down. Any time you play a Houston Nutt football team it’s going to be one of the most physical weeks of the season. That’s one thing I’ve learned over the years. They’ve always had great running backs and quarterbacks. They’ve always had great personnel. The thing that set them aside from a lot of other schools was they played hard for four quarters. They played their tails off for four quarters, and they played tough, physical football. That’s why he’s been successful. He does a great job with his personnel, getting those kids to believe, play hard, play tough and physical.
With the excitement of what could be for this Ole Miss football season some have applied an "Atlanta or bust" mentality.
At Media Days Houston Nutt tried to walk a difficult line of "embracing" expectations, as he says, but also managing them.
It's an unfair expectation to say in July that the Ole Miss season would be a disappointment if the Rebels don't reach the SEC championship game in Atlanta. There are so many things beyond control - mostly injuries - that go into that final result.
Says Nutt: "I think this. You're in the toughest conference in America. I believe that with all my heart. If you look at our teams, 1-12, very, very tough. Our staff has been to Atlanta before. Been there twice. That's a difficult journey. It's very hard to get there. Things have to go right.
"I wouldn't say that. (Atlanta or bust). I wouldn't say that for a team that had four prevoius losing seasons (before last year). I think our team is on the rist. I think there are some good things happening. We had a very good recruiting class. When you see our freshmen on campus, they don't look like freshmen. You feel like things are getting ready to happen, and it's exciting.
"But I wouldn't say, 'OK, Atlanta, or its really a downer.' I don't believe that."
The schedule sets up favorably for Ole Miss in that the Rebels don't see Florida or Georgia in the regular season. Lacking a BCS non-conference opponent could hurt if the Rebels are in contention for a BCS at-large bid, but that remains to be seen.
Reaching Atlanta would be a real point of validation that this program has not experienced. A BCS bowl would be a nice pick-up too.
The difference in reaching those goal and not could be five or fewer plays over the course of a couple of games.
Some national analysts have mentioned Ole Miss as a solid contender of the national championship. Any SEC team that gets to Atlanta and wins - provided it has no more than two losses - will be in that hunt.
This momentum for Ole Miss has risen quickly from the ashes of 2007. Going straight to the BCS in two seasons might be skipping a step in what would be considered natural progression.
This team is capable of big things. There's a lot of competition out there, however, and an "Atlanta or bust" approach could be dangerous in December if things haven't worked out the way people hope.
This is what Ole Miss football looked like a year ago prior to Nutt's first season. Still expectations but a lot of caution too.
Houston Nutt already feels like he's been the Ole Miss coach for a long time, he says.
His fan base will feel that way a week from now when the daily practice reports start churning out, and Nutt and his staff are on the field trying to revive the Rebels.
I can't remember seeing so much preseason excitement around a team that was 0-8 in its conference the year before.
There are high spirits with any coaching change, but there are two things fueling the enthusiasm for Ole Miss right now.
One, Nutt is a proven SEC head coach. When David Cutcliffe was fired after the 2004 season, athletics director Pete Boone said he wanted experience. He wasn't able to get it that time, but he did on his second attempt.
Past success may be an indicator of future results, but it doesn't guarantee them. Nutt is aware of this mindset when he points out the challenges his team will face this season. He privately lets his players know of the work they must put in and publicly tells his fan base you don't win simply by "changing drivers."
This new driver, though, should keep the Rebels out of the ditch.
Just as important as the driver is fuel in the tank, and Orgeron left more than he received in 2005.
That doesn't mean there's talent across the board, but Nutt is the benefactor of ability at defensive line, wide receiver and of Orgeron's successful enticement of transfer quarterback Jevan Snead to Oxford.
Nutt helped his own talent cause by landing running back Enrique Davis and, probably, linebacker Patrick Trahan.
Excitement for Ole Miss is justified but with this caution flag: Any time you bring new people into your program and tell them they must contribute at a high level immediately, there's a certain amount of risk involved. Even the best players require a period of acclimation.
That's why the coming month will be so important for the new bus driver. There are guys at running back, linebacker and cornerback who need development and need it fast.
They need to be put in as many game simulations as possible. While that is important, nothing gives a truer picture of game day than game day, and that's Aug. 30 against Memphis.
There are some ifs ...
Now for the ifs: Snead has the tools. If he makes the decisions at game-day speed ...
If Cordera Eason and Davis hit holes and don't go down at first contact ...
If Marshay Green can be a successful every-down player at corner ...
If linebacker play is consistent ...
If these things happen the driver will be able to shift gears, and there will be excitement in November and not just August.
Parrish Alford (parrish.alford
@djournal.com) covers Ole Miss athletics for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at djrebel.wordpress.com.
Meeting with new DL coach Terry Price at 11 for a feature. Price is stepping into a position that remains deep and experienced in spite of the loss of Peria Jerry. These guys will be getting their third position coach in three years. Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt still calls the DL the strength of his team and sings the praises of Price, an SEC veteran in his second tour at Ole Miss. He was a member of Tommy Tuberville's staff in Oxford and throughout his Auburn time, so Auburn and Ole Miss just swapped DL coaches when Tracy Rocker jumped to Auburn in the off-season.
In other news ...
Gannett Louisiana columnist Glenn Guilbeau says the Tim Tebow "whodunit" was the biggest non-story of a slow three days.
I would tend to agree. All the interesting stuff happned, much of it with Tennessee rookie Lane Kiffin, before Media Days. Coaches were on their best behavior when they got to Hoover.
While a third-place pick in the West for the Rebels by SEC media last week wasn't stunning, I was a little surprised to see both Alabama and LSU picked ahead of Ole Miss.
The Rebels have been the nation's trendy pick in the off-season. Much of the preseason ranking - which is less signficant each week into the season - is based on how you finished last year. Returning players are a factor, of course, and Ole Miss is established at the quarterback position, something no one else in the West can say.
The other thing that apparently played a big part is tradition. Most SEC voters weren't willing to pull the trigger and vote for the Rebels. Ole Miss did receive more first-place votes than LSU, 16 to 15, but Alabama received 33, and Ole Miss was placed low enough on enough ballots to negate its slight edge over LSU, which allowed the Tigers to finish second.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt seemed genuinely excited - actually he always seems genuinely excited - about the reality TV show. Nutt agreed to it because he can pull the plug at any time and because of the exposure for recruiting.
He also seemed very confident that Hargrave transfer Tig Barksdale, formerly of South Panola, will qualify academically. This continues a theme that began to rise in the late spring. Barksdale was considered a long shot to qualify on signing day. If he in fact makes it, Barksdale's presence would add depth at strong safety, a question mark position with the graduation of four-year starter Jamarca Sanford. Junior Johnny Brown brings experience to the position, but Barksdale would bring much more athleticism.
Barksdale's apparent solid academic standing also brought a new twist to the Jamar Hornsby story. The former Florida Gators player who had a knockout season at East Mississippi Community College last year, has an Aug. 12 court date coming up on an assault charge. When we asked Nutt a couple of months ago if Hornsby would be allowed to practice with the team until his legal matters were resolved, the answer was "I don't know." In Birmingham the answer was "No."
Nutt got more good news at safety this week when it was learned that Miami signee Frank Crawford received a qualifying test score.
Sunday morning links
About to get started on the final day. New Auburn coach Gene Chizik is first up. The technology is painfully slow today and that could affect the number of updates. Hope not.
Maybe those expectations aren't that high after all. Ole Miss has been picked to finish third in the West by SEC media.
Alabama is first, LSU second, Arkansas fourth, Auburn fifth and Mississippi State sixth.
In the East it's Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky. Tennessee falls out of the top three for onlly the third time since the division split in 1992.
Tim Tebow is the preseason All-SEC quarterback, though the vote was not unanimous. Maybe the last four coaches can ask the media who it voted for.
Ole Miss placed OL John Jerry, DL Greg Hardy on the first team, QB Jevan Snead, WR Dexter McCluster and K Joshua Shene on the second team.
With more than 1,000 media credentialed for this event, the SEC office accepted only 64 ballots. Ballots were trashed if they were not filled in completely and correctly, which means every ballot had to include a complete preseason team as well as the six picks in each division.
Tebow received 61 All-SEC QB votes, Snead two and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, a transfer from Michigan who sat out last season and played sparingly as a true freshman in 2007, received one vote.
Florida received all 64 first-place votes in the East, the first time a team has been a unanimous pick in the division.
In the West, Alabama received 33 first-place votes to LSU's 15 and Ole Miss' 16.
Florida's 12 preseason All-SEC players are the most since Auburn had 12 in 2006. Auburn had at least one third-team selection in 2006. No third team was selected this year.
Coordinator of officials Rogers Redding will be speaking at 8:30. Georgia coach Mark Richt will follow, and Day 2 begins.
We're a few minutes from kickoff here. If you have a question leave it in the comments. I'll be checking periodically.
LSU, if you're asking about the Arkansas QB that will be Ryan Mallett, a transfer from Michigan.
The SEC folks are scurrying about now. The commish is making the rounds. The techies are running through their checks, and the big screen is showing SEC propoganda.
First up are the ESPN folks.
More than 900 people have been credentialed for Media Days, a record for an event that has taken on a life of its own.
As I sit and listen to 12 coaches and 24 players over three days make predictions about their seasons that will often fall short I wonder why there's so much interest.
You don't have to wonder too much. Right now it's about hope. Most teams have a good dose of that in July and August.
Most fans can recite elaborate scenarios in which their team will be fan expectations. Those expectations vary from school to school, but just about everyone can see some pathway to success.
A group of ESPN representatives that I don't believe includes Erin Andrews will begin the festivities at 12:30 with a presentation on the new mega contract that goes into effect this season.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive will have some comments in there as well. I predict he will discuss the league in very glowing terms.
But, he has the numbers to back him up. The SEC has won the last three BCS national championships, a fact displayed proudly across the front of the conference media guide.
Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson is first up in the rotation, followed today by Arkansas' Bobby Petrino, MSU's Dan Mullen and Kentucky's Rich Brooks.
I'll have a live blog going. Come and join in with comments and questions.