OXFORD – Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead has thrown seven interceptions in the last two games, but all indications are Snead will play through this stretch to try and regain the form that had him mentioned in August as a Heisman Trophy hopeful.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt says he isn’t “afraid” to play backups Nathan Stanley or Billy Tapp but will do so tonight against Alabama-Birmingham only if presented with the right “opportunity” along the way.
“The most important thing is to win the game,” Nutt said.
It’s homecoming for the Rebels (3-2) with a 6 p.m., kick against UAB (2-3), the first meeting between the two schools. It will be televised on Fox Sports South.
Another Alabama school, a Crimson Tide squad that’s ranked No. 2 this week, pressured Snead early and often, a factor resulting in his four interceptions thrown. Snead didn’t throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 13 games, ending a school-record streak, as the Rebels lost 22-3 to Alabama last week.
Snead’s efficiency rating dropped to 107.3, 11th among SEC starting quarterbacks.
Getting to Snead will be an important goal for UAB, Blazers coach Neil Callaway said.
“I think it’s important to not just pressure him, but to get pressure on any quarterback. He has had his moments when he’s struggled, but that has been when he’s had pressure on him. There have been times when he looks like a fine quarterback. I think the key for us is to get pressure on him and get to him, and I think that’s been one of our strong suits so far this season,” he said.
Sacks are not the only measure of pressure, and Alabama did not record one last week. UAB is registering sacks at a pace of 1.6 a game.
Alabama players talked about Snead getting rattled, a fact the quarterback did not deny. The biggest thing he hopes to improve upon tonight is putting a bad play behind him and improving on the next snap.
“I felt really good in the pocket against Vanderbilt, and I’ve felt good at times in every game. It’s just when I get rushed the previous play, sometimes I let that affect me more than it should,” Snead said.
Having two former college quarterbacks on staff, Nutt and offensive coordinator Kent Austin, will help, Snead said, to get him back on track.
“They tell me they know what I’m going through and that they’ve been in the situations I’m in,” Snead said. “They tell me they understand, but at the same time, there are things I have to work on myself and focus on improving.”
Today’s game at a glance
– Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford
– Kickoff: 6 p.m.
– Television: Fox Sports South
n Radio: Ole Miss network; XM channel 201; Sirius channel 217
– Records: Ole Miss 3-2, 1-2 SEC; Alabama-Birmingham 2-3, 2-1 Conference USA
– Rankings: Both teams are unranked.
– Series: First meeting.
– Coaches – UAB: Neil Callaway 8-21 (Third year); Ole Miss Houston Nutt 123-76 (17th year)
– Statistical leaders – Alabama: QB Joe Webb 58-108-5 644 yards, 6 TDs passing; QB Joe Webb 92-570 5 TDs rushing; WR Jeffery Anderson 12-179 yards 3 TDs receiving; CB Terrell Springs 19 tackles, 5 PBU. Ole Miss: QB Jevan Snead 65-139-9 868 yards, 9 TDs passing; RB Brandon Bolden 58-308 1 TD rushing; WR Shay Hodge 19-290 3 TD receiving; SS Johnny Brown 39 tackles, 1 INT.
Trends: Ole Miss had won 10 straight homecoming games before losing last year against South Carolina. The Rebels have won six straight home games against non-conference opposition.
– Notes: The Rebels may be without CB Marshay Green (rib, kidney) … Ole Miss is 130-53-2 against current members of C-USA and are facing a a C-USA foe for the second time this season. … This will be the 200th game as a head coach for Houston Nutt.
– Summing it up: “Watching the film on them before they played Alabama, it was obvious they were a good football team. I know Alabama won the game, but at the same time, watching them get after each other, I thought it was a heck of a ball game.” – UAB coach Neil Callaway
Prediction: Ole Miss 26, UAB 13
Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal