OXFORD – There are two things Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt wants to make sure his players are on top of as Ole Miss begins football practice today: fundamentals and fluids.
The Rebels’ returning players signed in Saturday, and the first practice will be today at 4:25 p.m.
Soaring heat indexes created advisories last week, and the forecast for this week is more of the same.
Ole Miss is coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons but was projected last in the SEC West by league media in late July. The recent addition of former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli has created a sense of excitement for an offense lacking experience at most positions.
The first Ole Miss practice for Masoli, who has commented on the oppressive heat to his new coach, could be indoors.
Players will not participate in interviews before their campus media day Monday morning.
“We may take a couple of days and stay inside,” Nutt said. “I’ve been watching it (heat). We work out year-round, so it’s not like in the old days when you come back and have a conditioning test. But it hasn’t been this hot the last two years. You’re talking about a heat index that’s reached 109, 115.”
Nutt said he stresses to players the importance of staying hydrated. Water and sports drinks are available throughout practice, but many players don’t stop and take advantage of them.
“We have to watch that, because I know how hard they’re going to go,” Nutt said. “We’ll talk to our trainers and doctors, because we want to be very cautious with the heat.”
The quarterback positions will draw the most attention, as Masoli enters into a competition with third-year sophomore Nathan Stanley and junior college transfer Randall Mackey.
There’s also playing time to be earned at wide receiver and running back.
A couple of key signees at wide receiver were among a handful of players who did not report with newcomers Friday. Nutt indicated that Vincent Sanders and Quadarias Mireless are being held back by summer school paper work issues at this point, and he expects them to join the team soon, perhaps by the middle of the week.
“Whatever days they miss, we’ll keep them up a little bit later after the last meal, the last meeting and do a little 30-minute extra time with them,” Nutt said. “That’s a critical position. We’re very, very thin there. We need those guys here, and we’ll have to do some catch-up.”
While there’s always competition, jobs are more settled on defense.
The first days of camp the focus is on fundamentals and the playbook.
“It’s fundamentals first. It’s about starting back, getting back to coaching with great intensity and effort. We need our seniors to lead for us, especially while it’s hot,” Nutt said.
Parrish Alford / NEMS Daily Journal