Ole Miss' game against Tennessee was almost a must-win for the Rebels to have any chance to go bowling this year. Houston Nutt and the Rebels blew it, and they blew it big time. Ole Miss was blown out 52-14!
The possible reasons for the Rebels' complete flop run the gamut. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli's concussion and lack of practice time this week probably played a part, as Masoli was definitely off. Countless Rebel mistakes and turnovers didn't help either.
But, once again, Nutt's lack of coaching skills put the nails in the coffin. Nutt refused to bench Masoli until the game was out of reach despite his obvious problems. Whether Masoli's timing and decision-making skills was or was not related to his concussion is debatable. Whether or not he should have been taken out of the game much sooner is not debatable.
Nathan Stanley is a good quarterback, but Nutt refused to give him a chance until the game was out of hand. Rebel fans had visions of the 2009 season when, time and time again, Jevan Snead's play was off and Nutt absolutely refused to make a move.
This coaching—or lack of coaching—strategy cost the Rebels last year, and it cost them again against Tennessee. Even after Nutt finally pulled Masoli and gave Stanley a chance, he put Masoli back in after only two series, only later to put Stanley back into the game. Where is the logic in that?
If Nutt would have had the spine to bench Snead at the appropriate times last year, Stanley would be much more experienced now. Not to mention the fact that the Rebels may have had a chance to have a better record last year.
When your quarterback is throwing one bad pass after another and making terrible choices, you take him out of the game. This is basic common sense. But this basic coaching strategy seems to continue to baffle Houston Nutt.
Stanley has looked good every time he has played this year. While it is true that he has made a mistake or two, he has played well overall. By leaving a quarterback in when he is playing as badly as Masoli was in the first half, the coach is taking away any chance that the team might have of winning the game.
While it is true that 100 percent of the blame can't be placed on Nutt's poor coaching, the majority of it certainly can be attributed to him. Ole Miss has the talent but, time and time again, the team is unprepared and poorly coached during the game. The play-calling has been mind-numbing at times this year.
This appears to be a pattern of Houston Nutt-coached teams. They get fired up and are well-prepared when they play highly ranked marquee games, but are unprepared to play average or below-average teams. This was his calling card at Arkansas, and it appears to be the norm now at Ole Miss.
A team that can play a good game against Alabama, but loses to Jacksonville State, Vanderbilt and Tennessee has issues that cannot be blamed on inexperienced players. The talent is there; the coaching is not.
There is no excuse for this Rebel team to lose to Tennessee by a score of 52-14. Before Saturday's game, Tennessee was actually the worst team in the SEC. Well, the Vols can no longer claim that embarrassing title. Now that honor belongs to Ole Miss!
The next two weeks could be ugly. Ole Miss has to play its two biggest rivals (LSU and Mississippi State), and both are ranked in the top 20!
In all likelihood, Jeremiah Masoli will only be seen on the Rebel sideline for two more games. Unfortunately for Rebel fans, I doubt the same can be said about Houston Nutt. But Rebel fans can still hope.
Bohdi Sanders ~ www.TheWisdomWarrior.com