Junior RB Jeff Scott's 55-yard touchdown reception with 5:02 remaining sealed Ole Miss' first conference victory in over two years and capped a stellar 207-yard performance. Amid the Rebel's 2012 football renaissance, Scott is having a breakout season, something the Miami, Fla. native attributes to the offensive philosophy of first-year head coach Hugh Freeze.
"Coach Freeze has brought in a whole new style of play. It's all about running downfield, moving the ball north and south," said Scott. "[Former Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt] was more focused on lateral movement, sideline to sideline."
Freeze's quick-strike, vertical offense stands in stark contrast to Nutt's plodding, largely horizontal attack. Despite his teams' struggles at Ole Miss, where Nutt led the Rebels to a combined 6-18 record over his final two seasons, Nutt contends his brand of offense has its advantages.
"Well Chucky*, it's all about hashmark control," said Nutt. "Findin' that perfect spot on the field for your team to strike from. Right hash. Left hash. Hashbrowns, golden brown. Mashed up in a mess of ketchup. What were we talkin' about?"
The numbers, however, favor Freeze's strategy. Through 7 games, the 2012 Rebels currently lead the SEC in total rushing, whereas their 2011 counterpart finished 10th in the conference. Freeze's 211-yards per game is up from 130 in 2011, and yards per carry has increased from 3.4 to 4.9.
Nutt argues that the numbers don't paint a fair picture.
"Most people only count yards from scrimmage. Not me. Nope. When I was at Ole Miss, we counted total yards run per play, which took into account your lateral yards," explained Nutt. "Used to have a boy by the name of [Dexter] McCluster. Quick. Explosive. Short legs, big heart. Used to be able to squeeze 15-20 yards out of a 6-yard gain."
Scott is the most recent in a long line of legendary perpendicular Ole Miss rushers. Scrambling greats like Michael Spurlock and Brent Schaeffer were classic east-west runners, able to use their agility and quickness to turn short losses into breathtaking, drawn-out spectacles.
"That Brent Schaeffer, he was everything you look for in a prototypical 7-cut rusher**," said former Rebel coach Ed Orgeron.
For now, Scott, whose 562 rushing yards rank 5th in the conference, says he's just trying to settle into his new role.
"It's been a big change with the new coaching staff coming in. It's been tough at times, but I'm starting to get the hang of it."
* Throughout our discussion, Coach Nutt remained convinced that this reporter was in fact John Gruden, sent to interview him for the Monday Night Football job.
Translated estimated from original Cajun.
Shoutout to Operation_Masoli_Freedom for inspiration.