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SEC Headlines – 4/18/11 Part Two

1.  Gene Chizik’s “War Eagle” comment as the grand marshal of yesterday’s NASCAR race at Talladega — by God — drew some boos from Alabama fans.

2.  Gus Malzahn puts a lot of pressure on his quarterbacks.

3.  Nick Saban isn’t ruling out a quarterback rotation at Alabama.

4.  The defense stole the show in Saturday’s A-Day Game.

5.  Eight of the 10 highest-attended spring games were in the SEC… and Arkansas came in #5 in the league.

6.  Houston Nutt says he might “get antsy” this fall, but coming out of spring he says his decision to give David Lee more control of the offense has worked well.

7.  Ole Miss has a lot of different options when it comes to using their quarterbacks… which usually means a team doesn’t have a true clear-cut starter.

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Nutt Says Stanley Got Better (Just Not “Better” Enough)

Nathan Stanley twice looked like the heir apparent for the Ole Miss starting quarterback job.  Neither time did things work out as he had planned.  And now that’s led him to seek a transfer.

Houston Nutt told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger yesterday: “Nathan’s gotten better.  This was by far his best winter offseason. … He’s in the best shape he’s been in.  Was throwing the ball good.  But I think once the other quarterbacks separated themselves a little bit, boy, that’s where that depression hits in and you see like, ‘Oh, here we go again,’ and, ‘I just have two seasons left,’ and as all quarterbacks want to do, they want to play, and they want to play now.  I understand that.  He wants to go start somewhere, and that’s the bottom line.”

With Stanley gone, UM now has Randall Mackey and Zack Stoudt at quarterback.  Barry Brunetti might also be available if the NCAA grants him a hardship waiver in his transfer from West Virginia.  None of the three have started a game for the Rebels.

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Nutt Mourns Shackelford’s Injury; UM Not Ready To Say “Next” Yet

The loss of starting linebacker DT Shackelford to an ACL injury puts a serious hurt on Ole Miss.  In fact, Houston Nutt says that his program might not be ready to fully deal with such a loss.

“He was a tremendous, tremendous leader and he’ll continue to be so.  The thing about this game is there’s always an opportunity.  You’re a play away.  You’re always a play away.  Sometimes players don’t believe that but you’re a play away.

“And we’re at a point with our program where it’s hard for us to say ‘next.’  We knew these next couple of years, starting with last year, when you lose that many seniors… it’s a building process.  And you want to get to where you can always say ‘next’ and we’re not quite there yet.  That’s why we’ll have to depend on some freshmen coming in that will have to play.  You’d love to redshirt them but they’re going to have to play.”

That “We can’t say ‘next’” line might be a tough sell for Nutt.  Although all schools go through up and down cycles, coming off a 4-8 season as you head into Year Four of your tenure is probably not the best time to be talking about rebuilding.  So much for all that oversigning Nutt’s done.

But one signee who might benefit from Shackelford’s injury is freshman CJ Johnson.  Defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger: “We signed the best linebacker in the state of Mississippi, if not one of the best in the country in CJ Johnson.  It’s an opportunity for him to be smiling as well because he has the potential to see more playing time.”

Johnson was ranked by Rivals.com as the 21st best player in the nation and the #2 linebacker prospect in February’s class.

Shackelford has a redshirt year to use this year should he so choose.


(Sidenote — I went to college with a buddy named “Shackleford” and it’s tempting for me to misspell DT Shackelford’s name — it’s “elford” not “leford” — every time I type it.  When I slip, I apologize.  No insult is meant toward Shackelford.  It’s just an old man’s mind slowing going.)

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UM Dodges One With Rivers’ Knee Injury

According to head coach Houston Nutt, Ole Miss “dodged one” regarding the knee injury suffered by defensive end Gerald Rivers on Monday.  And MRI revealed that the knee had suffered no structural damage.  Instead, Rivers is dealing with a “severely bruised bone.”

Rivers will “probably miss the next week or two,” according to Nutt.  “But we’ll hopefully get him back that last week just for some fundamentals, but we won’t scrimmage him.”

Rivers will be a junior for the Rebels this season.

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Nutt Thrilled With Mackey’s Progress

Randall Mackey appears to be the leader in Ole Miss’ quarterback competition so far.  But that’s not why Houston Nutt is excited.

Mackey had the best performance among UM’s QBs in a weekend scrimmage.  But that’s not why Nutt is excited.

No.  Nutt is excited because Mackey is overcoming his one speech impediment… a problem that once kept him from calling out plays and signals in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage.

“To me, that’s the thing of the spring,” Nutt told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger.  “The biggest single most awesome thing is him in that huddle, saying very clearly the play and then barking out the snap count.  Been very, very proud.  I never would have dreamed (that) this time last year.”

Mackey transferred into Oxford from the juco ranks before last season.

Congratulations to the player on his improvements.  It can’t be easy to deal with that kind of issue in an 85-man locker room.

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NCAA Grants UM’s Lockett A 6th Year

Ole Miss defensive end Kentrell Lockett got the news he’d been hoping for yesterday afternoon – the NCAA has granted him a sixth year of eligibility due to medical hardship.

Lockett suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Rebels’ fourth game of 2010.  Now, he’ll be able to suit up for the Rebs in 2011.

The defensive end will finally be off crutches in two weeks and he’s charged up to complete his rehab.  “In two weeks, we’re just going to hit the ground running,” Lockett said.  “We’re just going to take off from there.  I’m anxious to get off of these before I can anything else.”

Houston Nutt told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger: “That’s good news.  Really good news to get that year back.”

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Mullen Says MSU Doesn’t Need An Egg Bowl Banner

The University of Mississippi has made a banner featuring the Egg Bowl trophy.  It was recently photographed in the Rebels’ football complex.

The banner reads:

“WIN THE OFF SEASON
WIN THE WEST
WIN IN ATLANTA”

Then there’s a photo of the Egg Bowl trophy and three more words in large type:

“OWN THE STATE.”

Boo-yah.  Offseason Egg Bowl fuel, right?  Well, leave it to Dan Mullen to strike a match. 

Talking to the media today, MSU’s coach said: “That’s kind of cool for them.  We actually have a trophy that’s ours.  We didn’t need the banner this year.”

Zing.

You know Houston Nutt would like to deck Mullen, right?

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UM’s Grandy To Transfer

Ole Miss receiver and kick returner Jesse Grandy plans to transfer from Ole Miss in an effort to get closer to home.  Grandy is dealing with a family member’s illness back in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

The junior-to-be caught 20 passes for the Rebels last year.  He also returned 30 kickoffs (20.9-yard average) and 15 punts (14.7-yard average) in 2010.  As a freshman in 2009 he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

Houston Nutt told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger that he would like to have Grandy back, but he said his wishes were “secondary” to Grandy’s desire to go home.  “It was tough on him this past year,” Nutt said.

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Raven Out At Ole Miss After Mom Apparently Forges Letter Of Intent

Maybe this is why Houston Nutt likes to oversign.

Cornerback prospect Floyd Raven will not be playing football at Ole Miss… after his mother apparently forged his signature onto the national letter of intent.  Nutt said that Raven’s “mom really wanted him (at Ole Miss).  Mom wanted him here in the worst way.”

An Ole Miss spokesperson said the school could not read the first version of the LOI sent via fax to the school, so they requested another copy be sent.  Raven declined.  And the belief is that his mother had signed the original version.

A source at Ole Miss says that Raven plans to sign with Texas A&M. 

“I want them to want to be here,” Nutt said.  “There one thing I know about the other guys’ signatures that (our coaches) received is that they want to be here.  We’ll leave it at that.  Good luck to him.”

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More Coaching Changes Appear To Be Coming In Oxford

David Lee is in and Dave Rader is out.  That much we know.  But what other changes might be coming to Houston Nutt’s coaching staff at Ole Miss?

Kyle Veazey of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports that the University of Mississippi’s official website has two job openings posted for assistant football coaches.

Has one of those slots already been filled by Lee — with the posting being a mere EEO requirement?  Or is Nutt looking to replace two other assistants?

An Ole Miss spokesperson told Veazey that the postings are part of the process of evaluating the football staff.

Uh-huh.  ‘Cause to really give someone a performance review, you need to post their job online first.

So is one more person out or will two be hitting the road?

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