By PARRISH ALFORD / NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – The Louisiana-Lafayette game marked the reappearance of two Ole Miss players who played key roles earlier in the year – quarterback Nathan Stanley and tailback Enrique Davis.
It was the first action for Stanley since the Tulane game, when he played one series and completed two short passes for a total of 1 yard.
He entered the ULL game in the second quarter after Jeremiah Masoli had been diagnosed with what was called a “mild concussion.”
Stanley’s first pass went through the hands of tight end Reggie Hicks on a crossing pattern after rolling left on a naked bootleg. The Rebels gained 15 yards on the play on a roughing the passer call, and the drive ended with a 30-yard field goal by Bryson Rose.
Stanley was 2 for 6 for 33 yards in the first half, his long pass a 25-yard gain to tight end E.J. Epperson on the right side.
Stanley was the No. 1 quarterback in the spring and through much of August camp but came out on the short end of a competition for the starting job with Masoli, who arrived in July after transferring from Oregon.
As Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt stuck with the ground game, Stanley passed sparingly. He finished 6 of 14 for 108 yards with no interceptions and no touchdowns.
“I think Nathan did a good job handling the ball and the clock,” Nutt said. “He did a great job for not having played all year.”
It was Stanley’s most extensive action since the season opener against Jacksonville State when he completed 6 of 10 passes for 133 yards and three touchdowns.
Stanley was caught off guard when his number was called.
“I was a little surprised. I didn’t realize that Masoli had a concussion or what was wrong with him,” he said. “They told me to get ready, and I got excited and got ready to go.”
While he got off to a fast start against Jacksonville State, Stanley said it took him a while to feel comfortable against La.-Lafayette.
“I did feel rusty a little bit. I feel like I threw some incomplete passes that I could have completed,” he said. “I just have to keep getting better.”
Davis was playing for the first time since early in the Fresno State game when he sustained a sprained medial collateral knee ligament.
Davis had carried 41 times for 144 yards and three touchdowns entering the game.
He carried seven times for 39 yards in the first half. Brandon Bolden reappeared with 80 in the half, as the Rebels had more success running between the tackles than they had in their three previous games.
Davis ripped off a 55-yard run in the third quarter, but the drive stalled and Rose knocked through his fourth field goal of the night, a 27-yarder.
“I just wanted to follow my offensive line, follow my blocking. I knew I could get it done,” Davis said. “We just want to keep fighting, keep trying to get better and keep trying to punch it in like we did tonight.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.