Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Rebels making offensive adjustments
By Edward Aschoff
Coming off the 14-13 season-opening loss to BYU, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt is making some changes to his offense before Saturday's game against Southern Illinois.
One change is more forced on him with running back Brandon Bolden out for at least a couple of weeks with a slight fracture in his ankle and fellow back Enrique Davis down with a hyperextended knee and isn't expected to practice this week.
"My experience says that when you don't practice it is hard to play," Nutt said of Davis' injury.
So, down two running backs, speedster Jeff Scott should assume the starting role for the Rebels. He's known as a true home-run threat for Ole Miss and rushed for 429 yards and three touchdowns last season. Against BYU, he carried the ball five times for 17 yards and caught two passes for 25 yards.
After Scott, the Rebels will have to look down the depth chart. Devin Thomas, who has 11 career attempts for 47 yards in 17 games, and Korvic Neat, who will move from wide receiver, are also options.
"Right now we took a real hit at the tailback spot," Nutt said. "Jeff Scott has to get ready to go. We talked about it really hard [Sunday].
"[Tuesday] we'll work with Cody Prewitt and Chief Brown. We have to get a couple more guys in there ready to go because we are so thin."
The other position getting a shakeup is quarterback. While West Virginia transfer Barry Brunetti held the edge for all of preseason and started the BYU game, Nutt will start junior college transfer Zack Stoudt this weekend. Brunetti only completed 2 of 3 passes for 4 yards before being benched for Stoudt, who finished the game 13-of-25 for 140 yards. However, Stoudt's fumble late was returned for the go-ahead touchdown.
Randall Mackey will also return from his one-game suspension for his role in a fight at a downtown bar.
"We will keep practicing the other two but most of the reps will go to Zack," Nutt said. "He will start the game and we'll see how everything else flows as far as practice. We'll see where Randal Mackey is. Right now, we'll go with Zack."
The Rebels have a lot of work to do on offense. Ole Miss managed just 208 total yards and scored zero offensive touchdowns against the Cougars. If not for Charles Sawyer's 96-yard touchdown on an interception return, the Rebels would have been kept out of the end zone and things would have looked a lot worse.
In order to take a step forward, Ole Miss will need to get more production out of its receiving corps to help Stoudt in his first start.
"We have to have somebody to help him as a supporting cast with tight ends and receivers," Nutt said. "We will depend on these backs. We won't shy away from them. We'll go right along according to plan using the play book trying to give us the best chance to win by getting the ball to these guys."