Another Opportunity

Houston Nutt

The Ole Miss Rebels have another opportunity to make some national noise Saturday if they can knock off title contender Auburn in Oxford. Coach Houston Nutt said Auburn is playing better than anyone currently.

"They're the hottest team in the country right now," he said of the third-ranked Tigers. "They've got the best offense we've seen so far with a bigtime quarterback that can run and pass."

The Rebels will have to tackle better than they have, Nutt said.

"Technique," he said of the missed tackles against Arkansas. "We dove and let the long run out. Missed tackles are the bottom line. (Assignments) weren't too bad. We've just got to make tackles."

Nutt said in the first half of action in Saturday's 38-24 loss at Arkansas, the Rebels up front didn't give their teammates behind them a fighting chance.

"We didn't block very well," he said. "That was probably one of our worst halves of blocking. Disappointed. We didn't get any movement whatsoever and not running many lanes for our backs."

Nutt said the coaches know things have to improve to win.

"Youth has a lot do to with it. But the thing I know as a coach we've put it on us. Those things have really hurt us this year in games we've really let slip away. You just work hard to put emphasis on that. It seems like we can't play a total game.

"For example when Allen Walker makes an interception and puts us in great field position, we need to go make that 7-0. Now you've got them on the ropes a little bit and on their heels. We come back and score in the second half (to cut into the Arkansas lead), and we let out a 70 or 80 yard run or whatever it was. It's been that kind of deal where you're constantly trying to make strides, but we're not making those strides together."

Patrick Junen

Nutt gives another example. The Rebels had cut the UA lead to 31-24, and there was a second electrical storm break in the action.

"We come back out and kick the ball out of bounds," he said. "Now they've got a short field. It's just all those yards and all those mistakes that add up. It's a combination. It's not one thing. It's a variety, and we can't do that to win. In order to win in this league, it's a fine line. It's doing all those things right.

"The last couple of years we did those things. This year we're not. We've got to find a way to get those things done, because we're running out of games."

Nutt said the Rebels, at 3-4 overall and 1-3 in Southeastern Conference player, continue to give it all they've got to win games.

"I think if it was 21-0 and they scored 45 and we let go of the rope, you'd say they might have given up," Nutt said. "The way they fought and had a chance to win, I think we had some Arkansas people nervous. They thought we were going to win the game."

Bumps and bruises abound on the team, but heading into the eighth game, some of that is to be expected.

"Patrick Junen has an ankle injury and it is not known how long he will be out," Nutt said. "Damien Jackson was kicked in the knee and there is some swelling. He is limping Sunday. Basically just bumps and bruises. Probably the worst was Patrick Junen."

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