“This week is going to give us, first of all, some extra time to get people healed up,” said Nutt, his troops fresh off a trip to California and a 38-28 win against Fresno State. “Then take Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to really get better, being more physical. We’ll go good against good a lot. We want to get better right now and play much tougher than we’ve been playing.”
But that’s not all.
“Fundamentally we can still get better and grow there and use that time, maybe even take some time with some of our younger guys that are being redshirted. Give them some time and attention. But the main thing is you want Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to really be days you can get better, hard-nosed, physical, and get ready to play the best team in the country (Alabama in two weeks).”
But wait. There’s still more.
“Recruiting,” Nutt said. “We’ll really spend a lot of time recruiting. We have a group of guys going out Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. We’ll take full advantage of this open date to really hone in on recruiting as well. Should be a good week of football and recruiting.”
But he allowed himself to take a look back to Fresno and the win over the Bulldogs.
“It’s always good to win,” Nutt said, his team now 2-3 on the season and still 0-2 in Southeastern Conference play. “That’s the medicine we’ve been needing. Our defense still gave up some runs that we just can’t give up. We’ve got to play a lot more physical, and do a better job with some gaps. Offensively I felt like we took a good step, and let’s build off that and keep executing. We need those points. It felt good staying on the field and scoring.
“Special teams, besides really one punt return we backed up, they’ve still been doing a good job with tremendous effort. We’ve had some guys step up there.”
But things get considerably more difficult from here.
“As we turn and go into the teeth of our schedule, we’ve got to raise our level,” Nutt said. “Got to be much more physical and keep being competitive. We’re in the toughest league, and you can see it.”
More Nutt Notes
On Randall Mackey: “I thought Randall did an outstanding job for his first start. Made really good decisions. Sat in the pocket. Wasn't looking to run. But when things did collapse, he did run and escape and give us some positive yardage, which was really good. He made some throws out of the pocket. The best thing is handling everything. The communication. No delay of games. Those were some of the things we were concerned about. He did a really good job there. I thought he was accurate, especially with the intermediate throws. He throws a beautiful deep ball. Even had couple of balls dropped that probably could have been caught. Then having your backs back helped. That’s a quarterback’s best friend when you have a healthy Brandon Bolden, Enrique Davis, Jeff Scott. That helps.”
On the young receivers: “Really proud of Nickolas Brassell. Donte Moncrief really stepped up for us. All of them have been doing very well. Tobias Singleton on kickoff returns. Keith Lewis and Sederius Bryant, all of these guys are having to step up and I’m really proud of them. Donte showed a real burst and almost got into the end zone. That was a big play for us to change ends of the field and put the final points on the board which really helped. Those guys are playmakers, and they’re learning the speed of the game. It’ll be faster starting next week. You’re not afraid to get these guys involved in the gameplan. And they’re unselfish.”
On Brandon Bolden: “This is the best he's been (health-wise). He's been working awfully hard. He’s OK when he just runs forward. That’s why he can cover kicks. You’re running straight ahead. When you’re at tailback, gotta cut, stop, make decisions. With that ankle, he’s not 100 percent, but that's the best he's been. He really helps us. With two weeks, we hope he's 100 percent by the time we play Alabama."
On everyone getting on the same page as a unit: “Saw it more (at Fresno State). But it’s still not good enough. Illegal procedures. I know there have been three voices at quarterback, but still there’s no excuse. You can’t have people in motion. You’ve got to know who to block. There’s no room for error. It’s about the little things, doing it right, and being consistent. We’re better but we’re not where we need to be.”
On Melvin Harris: “I was really proud of him. He had a really good week of practice. He competed hard, and he’s 6-foot-7. He has height advantage. The one thing we know he can do is he can go get a fade. He can go get a deep ball. That was good to see, and it ought to help us, and help him confidence-wise.”
On scaling back the offense some: “We scaled back mostly the protections. We thought we had too many. We simplified that. I really think David Lee's done a good job calling plays, mixing things up, and keeping some people off balance lately and getting the ball to the playmakers. And we’re having a good mixture of run and pass. We wanted to get our running game going, and I think we established that. We'll add a few things here and there, but we won't get so complicated on the offensive line. We don’t want to bog those guys down at all. We want those guys to play fast.”
On how Mackey handled the first-game suspension and dropping to the bottom of the depth chart: “First of all I want us all to understand, he didn't do that much wrong, except maybe was out too late. He's not a trouble-maker. He’s not a fighter. He didn't throw a punch. I wish I had re-thought that a little better. I wish I'd had him for a half that first game. But that’s behind us. He’s been an awfully good person. It hurt him like it hurt all of us. And it hurt our team. He’s a guy that takes things very personal, and he’s a quiet guy that basically just went to work. He knew he made a mistake and went back to work, even on scout team like he did last year. He was very good. I can say that about all three of our quarterbacks. I really appreciate all their attitude. Barry Brunetti did the same thing when he went back to scout team to help our defense. Great attitude. Zack Stoudt same thing this week. Said ‘Hey Coach I’m here if you need me.’ Really supported Randall. You never know. We're probably going to need all of them sometime this season. Right now, I feel like Randall’s handled things right in making good decisions and scoring points, and that's what's been lacking."