Posted on: November 15, 2011 7:43 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Two of the precious few bright spots for the Ole Miss offense aren't going to shine against LSU--and maybe not again this season.
Houston Nutt announced after the Rebels' Tuesday practice that starting quarterback Randall Mackey and leading rusher Jeff Scott would be suspended for at least Saturday's home game against the Bayou Bengals due to a violation of team rules. Also suspended was backup wide receiver Korvic Neat.
Though the trio's status was not confirmed for the Rebels' season finale against archrivals Mississippi State in the annual Egg Bowl, Nutt did say the length of the suspension "looks like two (games)."
Nutt declined to specify what rules the trio had broken, but said that his recent firing and the disappointing season was "tough for a lot of them. Especially when the season doesn’t go just right, it’s easy to let go.”
The suspensions will do absolutely nothing to help the Rebels' already microscopically slim chances of victory against LSU. Scott was one of the Rebels' few dependable playmakers, having picked up 529 yards and six touchdowns rushing this season on a respectable (give nthe state of the offense as a whole) 4.6 yards per-carry average.
Mackey's numbers, meanwhile, aren't overwhelming -- a 50 percent completion rate, 7.2 yards per-attempt average, and a 7-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio -- but are far better than the ones posted by new starter Zack Stoudt, who in five apperances posted a 4.9 YPA and 2-to-7 TD-to-INT ratio. With Stoudt at the helm, the Rebels failed to top 315 yards of offense against any of four opponent,s including FCS Southern Illinois; with Mackey installed, the Rebels have topped that number in four of out of six tries.
The Rebels already had a huge mountain to climb ... something like, say, Kilimanjaro. Now? Beating LSU will be like going up K2 ... without oxygen ... in flippers.
Posted on: October 22, 2011 4:24 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
ARKANSAS WON: For a half, it looked like Houston Nutt had his magic upset mojo working and working hard, with the Rebels dominating the line-of-scrimmage on both sides of the ball, Randall Mackey looking sharp (that's him scoring a first-half touchdown at right), and Ole Miss eventually going up 17-0 halfway through the second quarter. But from that point on it was -- almost literally -- all Razorbacks, with Tyler Wilson warming up after a scattershot first half and Dennis Johnson finding plenty of room for his biggest game of the year on the ground. Result: 29 straight Arkansas points just enough cushion to hold off the Rebels' late rally..
WHY ARKANSAS WON: Because the Rebels didn't run out of gas in the physical sense ... but they did in terms of their game-planning and innovation. Nutt's team burst out of the gate with plays designed to include any number of play-making weapons -- freshman receiver Nickolas Brassell foremost among them -- and sly misdirection that gave Mackey several easy throws. The junior former JUCO transfer responded by starting 8-of-9 and throwing the best pass of his career -- a beautiful lofted 31-yard throw to Donte Moncrief -- that gave the Rebels a 10-0 lead.
But as soon as Bobby Petrino got his team into halftime still in the game (thanks to a Johnson 53-yard touchdown run on 3rd-and-14, a major turning point), adjusted to shorten Wilson's frequent (and frequently unsuccessful) downfield throws, got Johnson going, and never looked back. Nutt and his staff deserve plaudits for their early-game approach, but once the game turned, they had no answers--as seen most clearly on a second down on their own 1-yard line, late in the third quarter, already down 24-17. With Mackey having already looked deep on first down and failed, the Rebels tried a simple sweep to the right for Jeff Scott, and the Hogs snowed it under for an easy safety. By the time Nutt and his staff reclaimed their offensive spark, it was too late.
WHEN ARKANSAS WON: The game looked well over at the 8:30 mark of the fourth quarter, with Arkansas taking over at their own 42, up 29-17, with all the game's momentum. But the Rebels forced a three-and-out, drove 80 yards for a touchdown on their ensuing possession, and then recovered an onsides kick to start at their own 43 with 1:23 in which to score the game-winning touchdown. But Mackey was sacked on first down, and threw an interception on second to end the game.
WHAT ARKANSAS WON: Not a lot of kind words from Petrino and their coaches after that start. But Johnson looked like he's ready to give the Hogs a legitimate ground game for the first time all season, and we doubt anyone in Fayetteville's going to turn down a W after staring at a 17-point hole on the road. (And that said comeback came against Houston Nutt? Well, then, all the better.)
WHAT OLE MISS LOST: the Rebels' 10th straight SEC game, a school record. It would be encouraging to stay as competitive as Ole Miss did against a top-10 team after the blowouts they've already endured this season ... except that that 17-point lead represented the kind of golden opportunity Nutt simply can't afford to blow if he's going to coach next season. His job remains on a knife edge.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 2:53 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
OLE MISS WILL WIN IF: Houston Nutt reaches into the deepest crevices of his bag of magic tricks to find the last remaining pixie dust that produced results like his 2007 upset of No. 1 LSU or the 2008 upset of Florida. Jeff Scott may not be able to bring that wood like Darren McFadden, but the Razorback defense hasn't exactly been stout against the run, giving up an average of 290 yards on the ground through their last three games. If Scott can break a couple of long runs ... and quarterback Randall Mackey can use his legs and the occasional accurate throw to keep the Hog back seven off balance ... and the injury-ravaged Ole Miss defense can make the handful of big plays necessary to avoid getting swamped ... then realistically speaking, the Rebels might lose by only two touchdowns. But that's discounting the effect of that Nutt pixie dust, which has made the highly unrealistic happen before and could again.
ARKANSAS WILL WIN IF: they simply play their game. If Tyler Wilson performs like the high-quality quarterback he's established himself to be, and the Hog offensive line gets the sort of push against the banged-up Rebel front it's capable of getting, and the nation's deepest receiving corps avoids dropping a handful of receptions directly into the Ole Miss secondary's hands, Arkansas will have entirely too much firepower for the lo-fi Rebel offense to keep pace. Add in the advantages of home field and the Razorbacks' bye week, and the only thing that can really stop Arkansas this week is Arkansas.
THE X-FACTOR: It would be an enormous help to the Rebels if the most likely source of lightning-in-a-bottle points was on their side ... but in this matchup, that honor belongs to Joe Adams, the senior jitterbug who added to his early-season collection of punt returns for touchdown with a game-changing 93-yard scoring run against Auburn two weeks ago. Ole Miss has a hard enough task preventing the Hogs from driving the length of the field for points; if an Adams score (or two) keeps the Hogs from having to make even that much effort, the Rebels won't have a prayer.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 8:05 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
For reasons detailed earlier today in this space, Ole Miss already had a near-impossible task in beating Alabama this Saturday. And now the Rebels have made that task even more difficult for themselves.
Houston Nutt announced after the Rebels' Thursday practice that four players will be suspended for the Alabama game for a violation of team rules: running back Brandon Bolden, offensive linemen Alex Washington and A.J. Hawkins, and receiver Philander Moore.
Moore likely won't be missed; the sophomore has only three receptions this season for a total of one yard. And though a bruising 335-pound second-string senior, Washington likely wouldn't have seen the field without an injury to either Bradley Sowell or Bobby Massie, the Rebels' starting tackles.
But whatever tiny flickering hope the Rebels had for putting together a running game against the Tide may have evaporated with the other two suspensions. Bolden is a decorated senior who'd only recently returned from injury and is easily the Rebels' most powerful runner; Hawkins is Ole Miss's starting center, one with 16 starts in two seasons under his belt. With leading rusher Jeff Scott a poor matchup against the physical Tide due to his smaller stature and Hawkins unavailable, there seems little question the Rebel ground game will be at less than its best--and even its best might not have gotten much accomplished against the Tide.
Which means maybe the most interesting question still to be answered about this game is where on Nutt's locker room motivational chart the four suspended players fall. Could the World of the Uninvested be very far away?
Posted on: September 12, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 1:04 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This Saturday was not kind to the SEC on the injury front. Here's the rundown.
GEORGIA. After the Week 1 injury to sophomore Alec Ogletree, there may not have been an area of the field where Georgia could less afford to sustain an injury than at inside linebacker. But that's exactly where they've sustained one all the same, as CBSSports.com RapidReporter Fletcher Page reported Sunday that junior Christian Robinson has injured his foot and will miss at least three games. Robinson leads the Bulldogs through two games with 22 tackles.
With former inside linebacker Richard Samuel now plying his trade at running back in the wake of the departures of Washaun Ealey and Caleb King, the two ILB starters for this week's meeting against Coastal Carolina will be some combination of senior walk-on Jeremy Sulek, junior Mike Gilliard, and trure freshman Amarlo Herrera. The trio combined for four tackles against South Carolina, three of them belonging to Gilliard. Mark Richt won't admit it even if it is what he's planning, but with Isaiah Crowell shining at tailback, we could see Samuel moved back to linebacker this week.
There is some good injury news for the Dawgs; starting offensive lineman Kenarious Gates should be back on the field this week after missing the Garolina game with a sprained ankle.
ARKANSAS. Though he's not currently expected to miss the Razorbacks' Saturday matchup with Troy, starting quarterback Tyler Wilson did leave his team's rout of New Mexico with concussion-like symptoms. Bobby Petrino said that though Wilson had not (and as of now, has not) been diagnosed with a concussion, they weren't taking any chanes.
Wilson wasn't the only Hog to take a knock against the Lobos. Though not currently expected to miss any time going forward, receiver Jarius Wright and defensive end Jake Bequette -- both key members of the Razorbak starting lineup -- missed the second half after being "nicked up" with a knee and hamstring injury, respectively.
MISSISSIPPI STATE. Bulldog fans had to fear the worst when starting left tackle James Carmon was carted off the field in the second half of State's loss to Auburn. And Carmon will indeed likely miss at least this Thursday's huge home tilt against LSU. But the good news here for MSU far outweighs the bad: Carmon will not face surgery, and Dan Mullen said that fellow injured lineman Quentin Saulsberry should be able to play against the Bayou Bengals.
Given both Carmon's and Saulsberry's importance to the State line and how serious both injuries appeared to look Saturday -- Carmon's in particular -- we suspect those sighs of relief you're hearing right now are coming from Starkville.
FLORIDA. The Gators are ailing, but as things stand now, they should have nearly everyone aavailable for their SEC opener against Tennessee. Running back Jeff Demps left the UAB drubbing with a shoulder injury but "should be fine" according to Will Muschamp. Starting tight end Jordan Reed should also be able to overcome a hamstring problem, and junior corner Jeremy Brown may be able to return from a knee injury after missing two weeks.
ELSEWHERE: South Carolina true freshman running back Shon Carson sustained a serious knee injury and will be "out for a while," per Steve Spurrier ... Tennessee had a pair of lineman starters leave the Cincinnati game with injuries, but both could see the field against Florida anyway ... Still no timetable on the return of backup Ole Miss running back Enrique Davis. (Starter Brandon Bolden is, of course, out with a broken ankle. Fortunately, third-stringer Jeff Scott appears more than capable of filling in.).
Tags: Alec Ogletree, Amarlo Herrera, Arkansas, Auburn, Bobby Petrino, Brandon Bolden, Caleb King, Christian Robinson, Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Dan Mullen, Enrique Davis, Florida, Georgia, Isaiah Crowell, Jake Bequette, James carmon, Jarius Wright, Jeff Demps, Jeff Scott, Jeremy Brown, Jeremy Sulek, Jerry Hinnen, Jordan Reed, Kenarious Gates, LSU, Mark Richt, Mike Gillard, Mississippi State, New Mexico, Quentin Saulsberry, Richard Samuel, SEC, Shon Carson, South Carolina, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Troy, Tyler Wilson, UAB, Washaun Ealey, Will Muschamp
Posted on: September 5, 2011 12:58 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Georgia and Ole Miss both suffered demoralizing losses on the field Saturday, and even worse for Mark Richt and Houston Nutt, a pair of key injuries have been added to those insults.
In Athens, sophomore linebacker Alec Ogletree had been one of the stars of the Bulldogs' offseason after his move from safety. But Ogletree broke his foot against Boise State and will be out four-to-six weeks, Richt said.
"That's a big blow," Richt added. "With the depth we have there, we couldn’t afford that type of injury." Senior walk-on Jeremy Sulek replaced Ogletree against the Broncos, tying for the team lead with seven tackles. But freshman Amarlo Herrera and junior Mike Gilliard will have a chance to compete for the job this week as the Bulldogs prepare for South Carolina.
But if Ogletree's injury hurts, the one suffered by Rebel running back Brandon Bolden could be downright devastating. With nearly 1,600 career yards under his belt and a veteran offensive line in front of him, the senior was expected to be the linchpin of the Ole Miss offense and a potential All-SEC-caliber performer for an attack that desperately needed one.
But Bolden left the Rebels' 14-13 loss to BYU with an ankle injury after just four carries, and Nutt told reporters afterward that he believed Bolden had fractured the ankle.
Bolden is scheduled for an MRI that could rule him out for the season. He was replaced against the Cougars by backups Jeff Scott and Enrique Davis, who each left Saturday's game for periods with injuries. But both are believed to be healthy enough to play this week, when the Rebels take on FCS Southern Illinois.
Sitting at 0-1 following disappointing 2010 seasons and with their coaches under fire, neither the Bulldogs nor Rebels look capable of affording any further setbacks. But unless they can find quality replacements for Ogletree and Bolden, they may find out exactly how capable they are.