The Ole Miss football team came out fired up and looking great against Jacksonville State Saturday afternoon. Both Stanley and Masoli looked sharp in the first half. The receivers, offensive line and defense appeared dominant. It was evident that the Rebels had the best team. Then came the second half.
Once again, Houston Nutt and his coaching staff dropped the ball. Ole Miss came out flat, a historic trait of Houston Nutt's teams. Nutt continued to switch quarterbacks in and out, never allowing either to get into any kind of rhythm. The defense simply quit playing, and the coaches seemed to not be worried about it, after all, the game was obviously over at the end of the half. The Rebels led by three touchdowns at halftime.
Every year since Houston Nutt has been the head coach at Ole Miss, there has been a problem with the Rebels coming out flat. They certainly came out of the locker room flat to start the second half, and it cost them big. This is totally the coach's fault. It is the coach's job not to let that happen - ever. The unbelievable loss to Jacksonville State rests squarely on the shoulders of the Ole Miss coaching staff.
Since Nutt arrived at Ole Miss, he has been enjoying the fruits of Ed Orgeron's recruiting efforts. Orgeron left Ole Miss loaded with talent, and Nutt took that talent and cruised to two Cotton Bowls. That sounds good until you realize that Ole Miss should have won the conference last year. The Cotton Bowl was a consolation prize for the Rebels.
The Rebels mishaps last year mainly had to do with poor coaching. Snead should have been benched over and over, yet Nutt never stepped up and made the coaching call. McCluster was hardly used in the first part of the season last year - complete idiocy! The Ole Miss team came out flat time and time again. This was most evident in the Mississippi State game.
When a team is unprepared and flat, it is the coach's fault. Now, in his most recent coaching flop, Houston Nutt let his team sleepwalk through the second half of the Jacksonville State game, blowing a three touchdown lead to a Division FCS team. This is totally unacceptable.
Ole Miss didn't have a disappointing season last year because of lack of talent. The Rebels didn't lose to Jacksonville State because of lack of talent. They dominated the first half of the game. Last year's disappointing showing and Saturday's unbelievable loss is purely the result of poor coaching. Houston Nutt's coaching is mediocre at best, and at times drops into the pathetic category.
There was a reason that so many Arkansas fans were ecstatic to see Nutt leave the Razorbacks and head to Ole Miss. At Arkansas, Nutt was known for recruiting talent and never developing his players. Although he did not recruit Snead, it was evident that he never developed Snead's talent. His lack of coaching skills was highlighted once again against the Gamecocks.
Stanley was playing great until he fumbled the ball and it was recovered for a Gamecock touchdown. The next time the Ole Miss offense hit the field, Masoli came out. This was not the time to pull the young quarterback. A good coach would have sent him back out to show that he still had confidence in him. I understand that both Masoli and Stanley had to be played, but that was not the time to pull Stanley.
How many more games will Houston Nutt drop the ball on before the Rebel faithful see what the Arkansas fans were screaming at the top of their lungs? This coach has some major problems. His teams are flat when they should be on fire. He makes many questionable decisions both during big games and games which should be gimmes.
Saturday's loss can't be blamed on Masoli or the drama surrounding Masoli's eligibility. It can't be blamed on Stanley's inexperience. It can't be blamed on the young offensive line. It can't be blamed on the young defensive secondary. This heart-breaking loss lies directly on Houston Nutt's shoulders. He dropped the ball!
The "powers that be" at Ole Miss should have wondered why so many people at Arkansas wanted Houston Nutt to leave before they jumped at the chance to hire him. When someone is really eager to get rid of their old, used car, you should stop and think long and hard before you buy it! This is a lesson that Pete Boone, the Ole Miss athletic director, obviously never learned.
One thing is for sure, Arkansas fans are still breathing a sigh of relief and thanking their lucky stars that Houston Nutt left Arkansas for Ole Miss. Nutt can't continue to slide by on the talent of his (or Orgeron's) recruits. Sooner or later he is going to have to step up and become a quality coach if he is going to stay in Oxford for long. But I don't expect either to happen.