March 18, 2008

Nutt ready to begin teaching

Back in the last days of November, Ole Miss announced Houston Nutt as its next head football coach.

He made phone calls, assembled a staff and recruited. He familiarized himself with Oxford and Ole Miss' campus.

He witnessed his players work in the weight room, work through drills and condition.

All that was left was for him to coach.

With the start of spring practice just days away, Nutt said Tuesday that he's ready to get out onto the field.

"I can't wait to go," he said.

Nutt and the Rebels begin spring practice Thursday at 4 p.m. Practices will be open to the public.

Nutt said over the past few weeks, he's gotten the feeling in his gut where he knows he needs to be out doing his favorite part of the job - coaching.

"That's where you get lost. That's when you can't wait. Just the last few weeks going to the weight room and the 6 a.m. workouts, being with the players you're going to go to war with, we get start finding out what actually makes them tick," Nutt said. "Now, we get to coach football, and take that winter program, the running, the sprinting, the conditioning, and take it to a whole new level with the greatest game in the world."

Nutt's been impressed with a number of players during a period that he referred to as "gym class" - when players are evaluated in drills and conditioning without the use of a ball.

Nutt said he's most excited to see how tight end David Traxler, tight end Gerald Harris, defensive end Emmanuel Stephens, linebacker Jonathan Cornell and linebacker Allen Walker look out on the practice field.

In the 15 practices this spring, Nutt said he and has staff would be in position to shape the team heading into the upcoming season.

"We're going to be working very hard to teach. This is a great teaching time," Nutt said. "This is what I'm really excited about. We're getting ready to coach and teach; it's the most fun time of the year to be a football coach."

And Nutt's getting to do it with a group of coaches he feels more than comfortable with.

Since announcing his staff, Nutt's said there will be a premium on the coaching staff's chemistry, and with spring practices days away, things couldn't be much better.

"This is probably one of the best staffs I've been around as far as chemistry," Nutt said. "There's a real attitude of working together."

And that doesn't mean everyone's falling in line behind Nutt, adhering strictly to his philosophy.

"I don't like when everything is always 'yes, yes, everything's good.' I want your ideas. When I ask them a question, it's not what they think I want to hear," Nutt said. "They're experienced. They're professionals. They've been around different programs. They've been around players. They know how to push certain buttons."

And the mixture of opinions and backgrounds has the Ole Miss head coach ready to start working.

"You just feel a real sense of unity, a real sense of everyone being on the same page and a real sense of everyone pulling together," Nutt said. "That's exciting. That's where it starts."

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