Thursday, August 19, 2010
Behind The Scoreboard
While all gridiron squads battled sweltering field conditions and juggled practice sessions dictated by the extreme heat, three of the major college squads in Mississippi were busy attending to other attention grabbing problems.
Immediately south of us, the Ole Miss squad is not so much concerned with which mascot will be helping to publicize the Rebels as they are with which quarterback will be leading the huddle and the team.
Head coach Houston Nutt voiced better than mild satisfaction with how well his contenders fared in their first major stint with the pigskin on Saturday in front of almost three thousand of the Ole Miss faithful.
The Rebels exhibited a trio of signal callers in that workout with the ex-Duck from Oregon grabbing most of the nods. When Coach Nutt welcomed Jeremiah Masoli to Ole Miss, he alluded to the less than stellar reputation that Masoli had brought with him. Nutt let it be known that his non-kid gloves policy was zero tolerance. In his public interview, Masoli stated that his focus was to aid the Ole Miss program in any way possible and to thank the coach for giving him a chance. He did not plan to detract from it.
Earlier it was indicated that this was a tale of three Mississippi teams. So before you start to point to my obvious bias, I’ll get to the other two. Farther south from us nest the Golden Eagles. Now these three teams share a common denominator – their head coaches have not been there for ages. Coach Larry Fedora is starting his third season at Southern Miss and still trying to establish some solid footing. The Golden Eagles went 6-6 last year and took out Virginia’s Cavaliers by three points. Some think Kansas was the only obstacle last year to a winning season. Southern faced Kansas in game four in ’09 and have them scheduled for game three in ’10. Will South Carolina and Prairie View afford enough prep before tangling with the Jayhawks?
Mississippi State perhaps made a wise choice in opening with Memphis. They have a solid record when facing the Tigers to open the campaign. Should the ’Dogs continue their streak (they have won six consecutive), it might be a good one to savor because four of their next six games are enough to make any coach shudder. State needs to keep the cleaners open because they have a lot of problems to iron out.
Ole Miss won’t meet Alabama until the sixth game. The weekend’s top 25 coaches’ poll had the NCAA champs firmly ensconced at number one. Last season the Tide went 14-0 (as did Boise State), and that, too, is enough to make the coach and team shudder.
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