OXFORD — There are plenty of reasons for Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt to feel sour after Saturday’s embarrassing 49-48 loss to Jacksonville State in double overtime.
But one of the things that gives him hope is he has two quarterbacks — sophomore Nathan Stanley and senior Jeremiah Masoli — who appear to have a firm handle on the offense. Ole Miss (0-1) faces Tulane (1-0) on Saturday in New Orleans.
“I feel good about our quarterback situation,” Nutt said. “I feel a lot better now after a game.”
Stanley completed 6 of 10 passes for 133 yards and three touchdowns while Masoli completed 7 of 10 for 109 yards and an interception. Masoli led the Rebels on both touchdown drives in overtime.
It was Stanley’s first start after throwing just 23 passes during his freshman season. He made one major mistake — a fumble that led directly to Jacksonville State’s first touchdown — but otherwise looked calm and collected.
Stanley, who is 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, isn’t considered a great runner, but was able to avoid trouble a few times by moving around in the pocket.
“I thought the first touchdown pass he threw was great,” Nutt said. “He had to avoid a blitz, find the receiver and get the ball down the field. He did an excellent job for his first outing.”
Masoli, a transfer from Oregon, has plenty of game experience. The 5-foot-10, He led the Ducks to the Rose Bowl last season and accounted for 51 touchdowns over the last two years.
But he wasn’t cleared to play by the NCAA until Friday afternoon, barely 24 hours before the game. Because of that, he didn’t receive much practice time with the first team because Nutt thought he would have to use Stanley and junior college transfer Randall Mackey at quarterback.
Even with the distractions, Masoli had a decent game, rushing for 26 yards on five carries on top of his passing numbers. Like Stanley, he had one bad moment — throwing an interception in the fourth quarter that killed a promising drive.
It wasn’t perfect, but Nutt was encouraged.
“I think Jeremiah with no practice was very, very good,” Nutt said.
Nutt said he wasn’t sure how long the two-quarterback system would last, but he likes what both bring to the field.
Masoli was the quarterback during most of the game’s pressure moments in the fourth quarter and in overtime. But Nutt wouldn’t commit to either one.
“We don’t know yet,” Nutt said. “I feel good knowing that I have confidence on putting them both out there.”
David Brandt/The Associated Press