By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
ARLINGTON, Texas – Life without Dexter McCluster is frightening enough, but life without Shay Hodge is coming, too.
Ole Miss offense coordinator Kent Austin, jokingly, says he tries not to think about it.
“That equates to about 2,800 yards we lose after this game,” he says
That doesn’t even address the touchdowns, six rushing and three receiving for McCluster, eight receiving for Hodge.
Attrition is a part of college football, and the best programs deal with it successfully.
“We’re going to have to make real strides this spring and summer,” Austin said. “Obviously the production of some of our older guys with Markeith (Summers) and Lionel (Breaux) is going to have to go up, and the younger guys are going to have to come on.”
Summers caught 17 balls, Breaux 12.
The smaller player, McCluster, leaves a bigger void with his versatility and big-play ability.
The Rebels began to get better production from their run game, behind an evolving offensive line, when McCluster began to hit smaller holes more quickly.
So, going forward, is the preference for the smaller, quicker back?
“There’s a preference for a guy like Dexter,” Austin said. “Small and quick doesn’t capture his full set of skills. That means intangibles and brain power too. The thing that makes Dexter unique is his ability to do multiple things and do them well with very few reps. That separates him from people who might have similar skills but mentally can’t do as much because they will make assignment errors.”
What might have been
– Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix was offered the same job at Florida earlier this month.
Nothing shakes up an assistant coach more than change at the top, because new head coaches typically bring their own assistants. Nix watched the goings on at Florida with great interest over the weekend.
Gators coach Urban Meyer announced his resignation on Saturday, citing health reasons, then announced on Sunday he was returning and would take a leave of absence.
“We didn’t discuss his health,” Nix said.
They did discuss a contract, one bigger than your average deal.
“I told somebody, ‘Well, I was going to get a 3-year contract and make a lot of money, so my contract would have been good.'”
Nix was reportedly offered $500,000 a year by Florida.
Shene hopes for big kick
– Kicker Joshua Shene and backup quarterback Nathan Stanley are the only two Oklahoma natives on the Ole Miss roster.
Shene, a senior and four-year starter, stands the best chance to do some damage against his home state and would love the chance.
“I’ve dreamed about a game-winning kick. I haven’t really had one since I’ve been at Ole Miss. The closest I’ve come, I guess, is the LSU game this year when that put us up by eight,” he said.
A late signee, Shene had only a walk-on offer from Arkansas until he was the top kicker at a combine in Miami about a month before signing day in 2005. That generated more interest, but even then the offers didn’t pour in.
There was no interest from Oklahoma State. Shene grew up an Oklahoma fan in nearby Oklahoma City, but the Sooners only invited him to walk on.
Attending Ole Miss was an easy decision.
“I didn’t want my parents to have to pay for college. Even in state it’s expensive,” he said.
At Ole Miss he was first-team All-SEC as a junior. He was good on 88 straight extra points, the school’s second-longest streak that ended this season against Vanderbilt when he had a different holder.
Shene has hit 57-of-73 field goal attempts for his career (.781).
Contact Parrish Alford at parrish.alford @djournal.com