At various times this season Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt has talked about a desire to get his receivers more involved in the passing game.
Pounding the football has often been successful for Nutt, and he stood by that first-half game plan following Saturday’s 38-24 loss at Arkansas, albeit with one “wonder what might have happened moment” when Nutt, asked if he considered throwing more before halftime, said:
“We probably should have done it (open up the passing game) more on first down, but the plan in the second half was the same one in the first half.”
Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was 21 for 36 passing for 327 yards and three touchdowns in the game, just, 9 for 15 passing in the first half.
Ole Miss passed on 3 of 15 first-down plays in the first half, on 9 of 18 in the second half, but the last few of those first-down pass attempts in the second half came when the Rebels clearly weren’t in position to run the football.
Basically, there were six more pass attempts in the second half when Masoli was 12 for 21 for 241 yards. Several of those attempts were deep completions, and the Rebels were moving the ball better on the ground as well.
“We were going to do that (pass) earlier in the game, but we were having too many three-and-outs.”
At his Monday press conference Nutt stood by his first-half plan, in essence saying he lost out on the belief that his line could spark the run game in the first two quarters.
“Every game we go into we try to give them the best plan in order to win. I really feel like last week we could block them and try to get 4-6 yards on first down by mixing it up between the pass and the run. When we are really moving, we get significant yardage on first down. We went in last week thinking we could run the ball and handle the inside guys, however, we did not do a good job blocking. Our young guys were twisted up a bit on some fronts, but that is the learning curve that we’re talking about.”