Monday, December 29th, 2008



On his offensive players:
“Our players have made our jobs as coaches easy, a lot easier than it can be. They’re talented. They’re bright. They work hard. They have great character. As we say in the coaching profession, they’re low-rep guys and they get it on all levels.”

On QB Jevan Snead:
“He’s a guy who really came on this year. He developed exactly the way we hoped he would. He has a lot of talent. He’s a great person. He has great character. He cares about being good, and he does all the right things for all the right reasons. He’s got a great future ahead of him.”

On All-American OT Michael Oher:
“Mike really bought into what we asked him to do this year. He responded to (offensive line coach) Mike Markuson by being more physical up front and leading the offensive line to perform at a higher level. We’re really pleased with what Mike has done for us this year. A lot of our success can be attributed to his play.”

On WR Mike Wallace:
“He’s a big-play guy with tremendous speed. I don’t believe there’s a guy who we played against this year that he couldn’t run past. We didn’t always get him the ball like we wanted to, but as the year went on we were able to find him more often. Jevan (Snead) got more comfortable with the timing with Mike and was able to connect on some deeper throws. If we had connected more with him earlier in the season, Mike would have had a much bigger year. All of that is obviously not our quarterback’s fault. We were not clicking on all cylinders in a lot of different areas.”

On WR Dexter McCluster:
“We ask Dexter to do a lot. I love Dexter because he’s the epitome of a low-rep guy. He’s one of the few players I’ve coached who can actually take something conceptually off a white board and then go do it perfectly in practice without any reps. He has what we call football intelligence. He’s a tremendous athlete with great quickness, great speed and great character. He leads by example and by the way he plays. He’s a big-time receiver and running back and, at times, a quarterback for us. We ask him to do a lot, and he rises to the challenge every time.”

On the biggest adjustment of coaching college football after spending 15 seasons in the Canadian Football League as a player, assistant coach and head coach:
“The biggest difference is where the players are emotionally and psychologically in their lives. On the pro level, you’re dealing mostly with guys who are older and more mature. A lot of them have families and are married. It’s more of a business. Here you are dealing with a lot more stuff off the field. Up there, if a guy messed up off the field and continued to show that pattern, you would just go get another guy. Here you have to understand that you’re dealing with young men’s lives when some of them are still trying to find direction.”

On whether coaching at the college level is more rewarding:
“You should find areas that are rewarding in whatever you do. That should come by proxy with the job that you choose. So much of that depends on what you’re willing to invest and commit to. I do find it just as rewarding, but it’s a different kind of rewarding.”

On whether he views himself as a future college head coach:
“For some reason, I’ve been asked about this a lot the past few weeks. But I didn’t come down here with an agenda. I told Houston (Nutt) that right off the bat. I was honored with the opportunity that I was given. I told him that the only thing I care about is making sure that I do what he asks me to do at any level and to do it unselfishly. I’m just a very small part of a much bigger process. There are no gurus in this business. Your success individually is directly related to the success of the collective. The coaches who get that are the better coaches, in my opinion. When I had to put a staff together, I hired guys who understood that. They didn’t care about their job title. They didn’t have an agenda. They didn’t care if their name was hanging up on the door. They cared about their players, they cared about their staff members and they cared about making a difference both on and off the football field. … That’s all that mattered to me then, and that’s all that matters to me right now. I don’t even know if I’ll be coaching five years from now. I may or may not be. I love it, but I’m in love with my family. There’s a difference.”


On what it means to Ole Miss to be in a bowl game for the first time in five years:
“It has been a long four or five years for a lot of these seniors and juniors. We came in, worked day in and day out and never saw the fruits of our labors. Now, we have. For us to be here is really special because it’s a testament to how hard we worked.”

On the difference from the Ole Miss team of 2007 that went winless in the Southeastern Conference:
“Once you motivate guys in the right way – once you give them a goal and something to work for – they will be willing to do just about anything. Coach Nutt has done that. He has come in and motivated us. He has shown us he cares. Through that, he has us willing to play for him as hard as we can.”

On what it would mean to defeat Texas Tech in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic:
“Texas Tech is a great team. For us to be here means a lot to this program to begin with. If we go out there, play our game and come out with a victory, it will mean a lot for the program. But just being here in itself means a lot.”

On the Texas Tech defense:
“Texas Tech has a really good defense. Their front four is good. They have athletic linebackers. They have quick, fast defensive backs with great hands. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us.”


On playing with QB Jevan Snead:
“It has been a blast for me. He’s a great quarterback, and he got a lot better as the season went on. He’s a great person and has been a lot of fun to be around. He has helped us get here. … He can run, too. He escaped a lot of sacks.”

On what it means to be in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic and to be a major NFL prospect:
“It has been a long journey for me. I’ve come a long way in a lot of parts of my life. Just to be in this position is big for me. Whatever I get, I know I’ve earned it. I’m going to keep working hard.”

On what it’s like to be the subject of “The Blind Side: The Evolution of a Game,” a best-selling book by Michael Lewis:
“People know a lot more about me and my past than others. I don’t have a problem with it. It doesn’t happen every day to people. It’s great exposure. But I have to keep working hard to live up to everything.”

On being adopted by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy of Memphis:
“They’re a great family. They didn’t have to do what they did. They didn’t have to get a guy off the streets in my neighborhood, which was a terrible neighborhood. A lot of people wouldn’t go there, let alone adopt a kid from that neighborhood. That shows you what kind of people they are. They’re special people to do a thing like that. I love them for it. … They have taught me a lot of things about life.”


On being able to play with other talented wide receivers:
“Dexter McCluster can do anything at any time. He’s liable to take the ball 60 or 70 yards on any play. I just like watching Dexter play. He gets me excited because he does a lot of moving and cutting across the field. I’m in competition with him, trying to do the same things he’s doing. It makes it fun. … Nobody wants to get left out in our receiving corps. We push each other. Coach (Houston) Nutt and Coach (Kent) Austin have a lot of chemistry. They’re liable to run anything. It’s just fun playing for them. They’re running all kinds of different things at all times.”

On whether a high-scoring game is expected against Texas Tech:
“We’re going to try to control the ball. We’re going to go out, execute our plays and stay on the field as much as possible. We want to keep our defense off the field as much as possible. I never count us out of a game. I never think we’re going to lose. I feel like we can win this game. … I don’t feel like we’re the underdog at all. Everybody else may feel like that. We feel we’re a real good team. We feel that when we execute the things the coaches are telling us that we can beat anybody in the country. We’re not going out with a sluggish mentality. We’re going to be full throttle every play. We’re going to leave everything on the field.”

On the Texas Tech defense:
“Their defense is good, but they get overshadowed by their offense because it gets so much attention. But you can’t go to sleep against them. If you think you can just go out there and go to sleep, it’s going to be a long day. But we know those guys are good on the other team.”


On playing running back and quarterback in the Wild Rebel formation:
“I’m glad the coaches trust me to go out there, get the job done and wear those multiple hats. At times, I was trying to do a little too much. But I just want to live to play another down and let the big plays come to me.”

On the development of Jevan Snead as a quarterback:
“He’s a great quarterback. We’ve believed in him since day one. He has a lot of poise and a lot of determination. He always wants to get better. The whole team has a great relationship with him. He’s a leader. When you have a great leader, everyone else is going to want to follow. … He‘s going to make mistakes. Everyone is going to make mistakes. But he won’t make the same mistake twice.”

On the Ole Miss offensive scheme:
"Coach (Kent) Austin is a great coach. He knows his football. He knows how to get players open. … When you have a guy who knows what to do and the players who can execute the plan, it’s hard to stop.”


On the difference Houston Nutt has made as Ole Miss head coach:
“I was excited when I heard the news. He seemed like a great coach. … He has done an excellent job. I feel fortunate to have him. The win over Florida really gave us some confidence. It showed our team that we can go anywhere and can play anybody and win.”

On playing in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic near his hometown of Stephenville, Texas:
“It’s a great feeling to be coming back home. I feel extremely thankful to be here. I would like to thank the Cotton Bowl for having us. To be able to play so close to home is a dream come true.”

On the Texas Tech defense:
“They have a lot of athletes on the field. They play well together. They’re a solid defense. They’re really underrated. I look forward to playing them. I’ve watched a lot of film on them. I’ve also watched them throughout the season. They’ve been fun to watch. They have some great guys on defense, and their offense isn’t bad either. … They’re a physical team with great athletes. They move well and make a bunch of big plays. Everybody talks about their offense, but their defense is pretty good.”