OXFORD – Houston Nutt has sung the praises of his new staff members during the off-season, but he won’t be the only coach in the game with new assistants this week.
Ole Miss and BYU open the 2011 season Saturday at 3:45 p.m., at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Bronco Mendenhall is beginning his seventh season as BYU coach and has two new coordinators – well, sort of.
His new offensive coordinator is a long-time BYUassistant and former Cougars quarterback.
His new defensive coordinator is Mendenhall himself.
Ole Miss is trying to rebound from a 4-8 season. BYU finished 7-6 and defeated UTEP 52-24 in the New Mexico Bowl.
“Here’s what you know about BYU,” Nutt said. “They’re very smart, very disciplined, and they’re older. You can’t beat yourselves. That’s what they wait for you to do then capitalize on your mistakes.”
Mendenhall, whose roots are on defense, took control of his unit after five games last year with BYU at 1-4.
The Cougars went 6-2 the rest of the way with losses only to nationally ranked foes TCU and Utah.
Mendenhall promoted quarterbacks coach Brandon Doman to run his offense.
The Cougars’ defense finished strong under Mendenhall, not allowing a first-half point in their final four games.
BYU finished 70th nationally in scoring offense (26.15 ppg) and 32nd nationally in scoring defense (21.6 ppg).
Nutt made three hires in the off-season naming David Lee as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Gunter Brewer as receivers coach and passing game coordinator and Keith Burns as secondary coach. None were on the Rebels’ staff last year.
Ready to adjust
The new hires will impact the Cougars’ preparation, Mendenhall said.
“You have to guess, speculate and predict. You will really have to adjust on game day in the opener,” he said.
Mendenhall said Nutt – with whom he has established a friendship through their representation of Nike – will face a similar challenge even though the Cougars’ hires were from within the program.
“Hopefully our staff on game day will be able to identify what the opponent is doing, why they’re doing it and how to fix it.
“It will be the story behind the story.”
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal