Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt has his antennae up to see how his team is responding this week in…
Ole Miss Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix and Co-Offensive Coordinator Mike Markuson showed up to field media questions after yet another frustrating and disappointing loss - this one a 31-23 setback to rival Mississippi State in Oxford in the annual Egg Bowl - that mercifully ended the 2010 campaign with a head-spinning 4-8 record. All the issues, on the surface, were addressed, starting with Nix. "One thing that stood out again in the first half were the big plays Mississippi State was able to hit. We gave up several in the first half and a couple in the second half," said Nix. "The screen passes hurt us and were a big part of those explosion plays. "We didn't get it done, that's the bottom line. They (MSU) made good calls at the right time, but we still should not have been gashed on some of those plays. Once again, we were not assignment sound." Now that the season is over, Tyrone was asked what the main problem areas seemed to be on the 2010 defense. "The biggest thing was leadership. We didn't feel like we had a true bell cow throughout the season and it showed in a lot of adverse situations," he continued. "We also didn't have enough playmakers. We didn't seem to develop a player, or more, who we felt was going to be a force for us week-in and week-out. "We didn't have a bell cow - not only by example but on the field making plays. We lost a lot of explosive players last year and the ones we replaced them with did not develop to that level yet. There were youth issues and injury issues, but we didn't get it done no matter the reasons." Nix also felt like the Rebels lacked team speed. "We are going to have to continue to assess the speed aspect in recruiting, but it's not just recruiting - it's kids learning to play fast as well," he noted. "Some guys are a 4.6, but if they play with passion and desire and play at 4.6 every snap, they can make a lot of plays." Jeremy McGee Tyrone hinted that attention to detail is another area that will have to be looked at hard. "The little things mean so much, they make the difference. You can't cut corners and expect to succeed. You have to pay a price and learn from your mistakes," he noted. "The young guys on this team will learn from the examples of what not to do that we had this year. "I feel we'll be much better and much improved next year because I think we will learn from our mistakes and be better coaches and players." Coming into the game against the Bulldogs, the consenus thinking was to stop the run game and force MSU to pass as the formula to victory. Unfortunately, the Rebs got burned for 288 yards on 13-20 passing for three TDs by MSU QB Chris Relf. Once they proved they could pass when forced to, the Rebs had to back off a little and the MSU run game churned out another 210 yards for a 498-yard total. "Their running back (LaDarius Perkins) got 140 of those passing yards on three screens, but they also hit us downfield with a few key passes," Nix closed. "The bottom line is that we didn't accomplish what we wanted to, kind of like most of this year. "We'll rebound from this. I like the younger players we have who gained experience this year and we'll put a better product on the field next year." Markuson saw his young offensive line - particularly after OG Jared Duke went out with injury and some shifting around had to be done - get smacked around enough that an offensive rhythm - until the end of the game - never took hold. "We couldn't get much going tonight. We were playing behind the chains most of the night and we could not get our running game going until the very end," Mike noted. "We had glimpses, especially near the end, but most of the night was very frustrating. "We have a lot of work to do and we hate the way things played out for our fans and for our players tonight and this year. We just didn't seem to create any run lanes tonight. MSU did a good job and we didn't. You can't play the way we did on first and second downs, face third-and-longs all night and expect any different results. It was a lot of things, but in the end we didn't get the job done." Markuson shifted gears quickly to the future, and who could blame him? This season is best forgotten - the quicker the better. "We've got our linemen back, we have our backs returning, we have some of our wideouts back, we will keep recruiting, we are going to get stronger and faster and we will keep grinding," he stated. "Without Jeremiah (Masoli) we feel we have two types of quarterbacks - Randall Mackey who is similar to Jeremiah and Nathan Stanley who is more of a dropback guy. We will also add to our QB stable with recruiting. "In the next few days, we'll have several intense meetings with Coach (Houston) Nutt to decide a path we want to get on offensively, but it will take no discussion to determine it will all revolve around hard work." In the latest edition of this season, the final blow, the Bulldogs, according to Markuson, controlled the line of scrimmage. "I'll have to watch the film, but it sure seemed they were more physical than we were. We were not knocking them back most of the time and they seemed to be knocking us back sometimes," he stated. "It did hurt when we lost Duke because he's a physical guy who occupies a lot of space. It was a factor, but it shouldn't be an excuse." During the season, Markuson saw a lot of uphill battles the Rebs never overcame. "It took us a while to get some continuity with our OL due to injuries and a suspension and we never completely got where we wanted to," he closed. "Two, we would do good things in spurts but we never developed the kind of consistency you have to have. Our turnover ratio was terrible. "We have to become a better fundamental football team. We have to block, run, catch, protect and throw better, obviously. When you are better fundamentally, you will produce and not in spurts like we did this year - consistently. That's frustrating because we had games where we looked good and games where we looked like crap. "We have to get back to the drawing board as coaches and we have to get players committed to going back to work and working with more of a purpose. There will be a lot of addressing going on in the next days and weeks. It's going to be a real wake-up call for some." 2010 is thankfully over. The quicker the page is turned, the better. That was evident in the demeanor and comments from the two coordinators after the Egg Bowl.
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