Well, it's official, Houston Nutt has taken the Ole Miss Rebels from possible national contenders in 2009 to the worst team in the SEC in one year! The Rebels made the Vanderbilt Commodores look like a top 20 team at Vault-Hemingway stadium Saturday afternoon.
For the first time in a long time, boos echoed throughout the Rebels' home crowd due to continued bad tackling and pathetic play calling. The defense started off looking decent, as it did in the first two games. Then, like clockwork, the defense started to look like a sieve. Neither the run defense nor the pass defense gave the Rebel faithful anything to cheer about, with the exception of the occasional stop or sack.
As bad as the defense looked after the first quarter, the offense and Masoli were even worse. Masoli's game was obviously off against the Commodores. His passing looked more like Snead's inconsistent play from last year. He simply had an off game, but being consistent, Nutt never considered taking Masoli out and giving Stanley a shot.
This appears to be the pattern with Houston Nutt. No matter how bad his quarterback is playing, he seems to not want to take him out. This coaching philosophy drastically hurt the Rebels last year, and is hurting them this year also. Stanley is a good quarterback. It is a mystery why Nutt refuses to substitute quarterbacks when his starter needs time to settle down.
Since coming to Ole Miss, Houston Nutt has been blessed with supposedly Heisman-quality quarterbacks, but he has failed to develop them. He continually saddles them with very predictable and conservative play calls, with the occasional attempted trick play thrown into the mix. He did this with Snead, and now it is Masoli's turn.
I have nothing against Masoli. He is a great player, but his passing game was off against Vanderbilt. When a quarterback is off, giving him a bit of a break to settle down can help him get re-focused.
Apparently, this bit of pigskin wisdom has eluded Houston Nutt, along with other coaching basics such as not continuing to run up the middle when you are behind by two touchdowns, time is running out, and the opposing defense has stopped the run most of the day.
The Vanderbilt defense seemed to know what to expect on the majority of plays as soon as the ball was snapped. The same could be said of both Jacksonville State and Tulane. Not only has the Ole Miss offense been inconsistent, but they have also been very predictable.
At the beginning of the 2009 season, Ole Miss was ranked in the top 10 nationally. Terrible coaching decisions and poor quarterback play sunk the Rebel's hopes of a SEC West championship early on. These same factors cost the team several losses later in the season.
This year the pattern continues. The coaching has been horrible. When asked about what was happening with the Rebels in the second half, Nutt simply replied that he didn't know and had seen nothing like it before. Isn't it his job to know or at least to figure it out?
A good coach will make adjustments during the game, not merely have a game plan and stick to it no matter what. From everything that I see, Nutt comes into the game with a game plan and never makes any adjustments.
If his play calling isn't working, his strategy seems to be just keep trying the same plays, eventually it will work. If his quarterback is having a bad game, he just leaves him in, hoping he will eventually snap out of it. If the opposing offense is ripping through the defense, hey, let's just hope the defense wakes up soon. We don't need to make any adjustments! This is not good coaching folks!
Ole Miss' problems do not appear to be a problem with lack of talent. It certainly isn't that the Rebels have been outclassed by their competition so far this year. There appears to be a problem with motivation and with the team being out-coached in every game played this year.
In the first three games, against light competition, the Rebels have been embarrassed by a SCB team, scraped by a bad Tulane team, and manhandled by Vanderbilt. The Rebel faithful have to be quivering in the Grove thinking about what is going to happen against Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, etc. This is obviously going to be an ugly year for Rebel fans!
Just looking at the remaining schedule, it is going to be an accomplishment for this team to win two or three more games this season. Maybe a more realistic goal would be to merely not become the laughing stock of the SEC, assuming it isn't already too late to prevent that from happening.
Houston Nutt stepped into a gold mine when he came to Ole Miss. Usually when a new coach takes a new job, he has to start from scratch as far as talent goes, but that was not the case at Ole Miss. The Rebels were loaded with talent. This allowed Nutt to be successful from the start and it should have given him plenty of time to continue to build on a solid foundation.
So what happened? There is absolutely no excuse for the type of play we are seeing this year. Any way you spin it, it appears that the Ole Miss football team has a major problem which starts with the head coach and trickles down to player motivation.
Orgeron was sent packing on the eve of his success. While it was true that he had some coaching issues, which should have been expected from a first time head coach, his teams were competitive in the SEC. I don't think that we will be able to say that about the 2010 Rebel football team. Ole Miss could very well go winless in the SEC in 2010.
Something is wrong with the Rebels and Nutt doesn't seem to be able to figure out what it is. He is very much like the absent-minded man who is looking everywhere for his hat, but can't figure out it is on his head.
Houston Nutt is looking almost everywhere for the Rebels' problem, when he should be examining his own coaching issues. After the Vanderbilt game, there is little doubt that Houston Nutt has taken the Rebels from national contenders to the SEC basement.
Bohdi Sanders ~ www.TheWisdomWarrior.com