The Boldness of Houston Nutt: Part 2

In the first of this two part miniseries, Ghost talked about the way Houston has been bold in his decision making in the past. Afraid to look into the past (and the doldrums that were the 2010 season), I'm here to talk about the future: namely this season. What bold moves should Houston (or his staff) make this year to have an impact on games? I've picked out five that I would work on were I the coach. [An aside: If I were the coach, our team would be horrendous, so take these suggestions for what they are.] I'll be discussing several options I think could turn us into the next great dyNESTEA©.


1. Give Jeff Scott snaps in unconventional ways.

2. Pick which freshmen are going to play.... then play them a lot.

3. Play Nick Brassell at both WR and CB

4. Redshirt Barry Brunetti unless he's noticably better than Randall Mackey.

5. Pull out a simple but quite different offensive gameplan against Mississippi State.

Click the jump for analysis.

1. Give Jeff Scott snaps in unconventional ways.

If we're going to win a couple of big games this year, offensively it's going to come from Jeff Scott. Don't get me wrong. I'm solidly on the Brandon Bolden bandwagon. I love what he is able to do with the ball. That being said, Bolden (and our offensive line) does not excel against strong defenses. If we have a strong offensive showing against someone like Alabama or LSU, it will likely be because of Jeff Scott.

Scott is the only player on offense who has given us confidence in his ability to make any touch a score. We need to get him the ball in space and let him work. Obviously, one choice is the read-option, and I hope we employ that a good bit. That's not going to be enough though. We've got to line him up in the slot, let him go in motion for end arounds, throw to him on underneath routes, and give him a good number of screen opportunities. He's certainly not Dexter McCluster, but I'd like to use him similarly. Make defenses worry so much about where he is that they can't focus on the play. Be inventive.... like we used to be... before we fired that good for nothing Kent Austin.

2. Pick which freshmen are going to play.... then play them a lot.

I've never been a proponent of playing a ton of freshmen. Generally, I want to redshirt as many as I can. Most freshmen simply aren't where they need to be in terms of fitness. That being said, the thing I hate most about playing freshmen is when a coach burns a redshirt year for three or four carries.... or mop up duty on defense. If we're not redshirting someone at a position of depth (halfback, wide receiver, offensive line) then they had better be making a difference. Patrick Willis probably wouldn't have stayed for a fifth year, but I wish he had the option.

3. Play Nick Brassell at both WR and CB

This of course assumes that Brassell is close to what he's cracked up to be. Let me say this. It's obvious that he has elite speed. If he can cover receivers, we'll need him to play corner (where we need a lot of help). Assuming he can't start as a freshman, we might as well teach him a few packages at wide receiver that can utilize his speed. I know that the offense is complex and all, but give the guy a chance on some go routes. In the middle of the year, add a couple of other plays to keep defenses honest. Things like this get fans excited, even if they only actually work once or twice during the year. Believe me. The fans need to be excited.

4. Redshirt Barry Brunetti unless he's noticably better than Randall Mackey.

Look. I'm glad that Brunetti got a hardship waiver so he could play immediately. I really am. I want him to be able to compete. At the same time, if there's little to no difference between the two, I'd prefer to see Mackey start for two years followed by two years of Brunetti. We don't attract good quarterbacks at Ole Miss. The last decent high school quarterback we signed was Eli Manning. We've had a transfer fall into our laps who has four years to play three. If Mackey is as good as Brunetti, let's extend that streak of decency for another year by redshirting Brunetti.

5. Pull out a simple but quite different offensive gameplan against Mississippi State. 

In 2009, the Mississippi State Bulldogs brought top 25 power Ole Miss to Starkville at the end of the year. The Rebels were looking to finish the regular season 9-3 with visions of the Capital One Bowl. All season long, the Bulldogs had been starting Tyson Lee with Chris Relf coming off the bench in some situations but certainly not playing a major role. Relf had only played in nine of the Bulldogs' eleven games thusfar and had only thrown passes in seven. What followed was Relf attempting fifteen runs and gaining 131 yards in the process. A little bit of each of us died that day.

I'm not suggesting that we change everything in a complex way. I'd just like to see us go into that game and pull out a ton of trickery. Go against what statistics suggest we would do based on our other games. I can't suggest what that would be simply because the season has not yet progressed. I just hope we're willing to trick State.

6. Run the Wild Rebel a lot.

Last season, it made little sense to run the formation considering Jeremiah Masoli was under center. Now, we finally have a good roster with which to run it. If the defense doesn't pay attention to Randall Mackey out wide, they're going to get burned. If they don't play the swing right, Jeff Scott is off to the races. Brandon Bolden, almost certainly, will be manning the actual wild rebel position the most, but we could use him as a blocking back in the formation as well if we want to bring in Korvic Neat (who might be listed as a WR) for a little while. I think there are a lot of possibilities.

Oh.... but don't run it against Alabama. They'll eat it alive.

So those are bold moves I'd like to see us make. What do you think?

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