By Parrish Alford | NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt addressed his job security at his weekly press conference Monday, saying he isn’t nervous about what the end of the season brings.
Nutt is 135-92 in 18 seasons as a collegiate head coach. In his first two seasons at Ole Miss, the Rebels went 18-8, 9-7 in SEC play and won two Cotton Bowls.
Since defeating Oklahoma State in January of 2010, the Rebels are 6-14 overall, 1-11 in the conference and carry an 11-game SEC losing streak to Kentucky this Saturday.
Speculation regarding the future for Nutt and athletics director Pete Boone has been rampant this season.
Nutt says he doesn’t “walk on egg shells” around the office and is focused on finishing the season strong.
“I don’t look at it that way, going into the office like, ‘Uh oh, this could be it.’ I don’t look at it that way. I’m in charge or responsible for about 120 guys. I love it here, but I know this, they pay me to win. Right now we’re not winning,” he said.
Nutt added: “Hey, I take every single day and give you everything I have. I’ve done that since the first day I got here, work from daylight to exhaustion every day, giving it, trying to make a difference in a young person’s life and trying to win football games. you come to work and sometimes you stay up late at night thinking about what’s the best plan I can give these guys so that we can win. That’s all we think about.”
Following a 30-7 loss at Vanderbilt on Sept. 17, Boone spoke at the regular news conference. He called for more “fire” from the team and for support from the fan base. He did not offer a public evaluation of Nutt or announce a minimum number of wins for Nutt to remain employed.
Lockett and the draft
Senior defensive end Kentrell Lockett is coming off his best game of the season.
Prior to the Rebels’ 41-23 loss at Auburn, Lockett had been unable to regain the form he showed in 2009 when he recorded a team-high 13 pressures, 10 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Prior to Auburn Lockett had drawn just three starts and recorded seven tackles for the season.
He could be losing more than football games this season, though Lockett says he hasn’t given thought to how a lack of production might be affecting his draft status.
“I haven’t even thought of it at all. I haven’t worried about it. I’m just finishing out the season strong and whatever happens after that happens. If I get a shot I’ll run with the shot, because a ballplayer can play. It was an injury, a minor setback,” he said.
Defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix called Lockett’s performance at Auburn a “breakout” game. Lockett had six tackles, a tackle for loss and two fumble recoveries.
“I felt like myself again. I felt like Ole 40,” he said, using the nickname that refers to his jersey number.
“All I can control is training and possibly going to the combine, not just pro day. Whatever happens after that happens,” Lockett said.
It’s human nature to look to the standings, see Kentucky’s 0-4 SEC record and believe this could be the week the 11-game SEC losing streak ends.
But Ole Miss players believe Kentucky is looking at them in the same manner.
“Yeah, of course. You’re looking at a team that’s not as good as Alabama or LSU, and it’s like, ‘Maybe we could roll our hats out and maybe come out with a W,’ but teams look at us just the same,” Lockett said. “We have to come out and execute just as if we were playing Alabama a couple of weeks ago, just as if we were playing Auburn.”
Bolden thinks it will be a competitive game at Commonwealth Stadium. He did not predict a winner.
“We’re probably getting excited, but I’m pretty sure they’re getting just as excited. We’re both in the same way, we haven’t won an SEC game all season. They’re probably licking their chops saying, ‘We can get this win,’ and we’re licking our chops saying, ‘We need to break this losing streak.’ I predict it will be a good game.”