If you have read the Ole Miss blog The Red Solo Cup this week, you will know that the guys over there have been having quite the time ragging on the Hogs and their fans. Those without thin skins will have to admit that the week-long Razorback-bash-a-thon has been pretty funny. The Cup is one of the more entertaining and feistier SEC blogs, and we knew its authors were just the ones to provide the scoop on all things Rebel before Saturday night's big dust-up. So read on to find out how Ole Miss fans are responding to you know who, which Rebel players are primed to make life miserable for the Hogs and where the Razorbacks rank on Ole Miss' rivalry list. Thanks, Cuppers, for your time. [Editor's Note: Shrimpboat captains and those who don't like swearing may be offended by certain portions of the Q&A.]
It's been brought to our attention that your coach might have some Arkansas connections. How is Houston Nutt doing so far? Has the team underperformed, overachieved or met expectations?
How is Houston Nutt doing thus far? He's alright. He's better than Orgeron at every aspect of coaching aside from recruiting which, realistically speaking, is all we were looking for out of a new head coach. As far as the team is concerned, I would say that they're still on track to meet our expectations. Most contributors to the Cup were predicting a six-, maybe seven-win season back in September. Currently, that is not at all out of the question. Beating up on Memphis (who normally play the Rebs close as they consider us their biggest rival) and snatching one away from the Gators in the swamp elevated the expectations of many, but the loss to South Carolina brought most of the Rebel fans back to where they needed to be.
Along those same lines, you guys are 3-4, but with all four losses being close games (seven points or less) you could be looking at a gaudy 6-1 or 7-0 record with a few breaks here and there. Does your current record accurately reflect the team's ability, and if not what would you say it should be?
While our losses have been epically heartbreaking, one cannot lose sight of the fact that the Rebels did not win a single game in conference last season. Zero, zilch, nada. This team is essentially that exact same team from last year with a new quarterback (Jevan Snead), halfback rotation (Eason, Bolden, Davis) and second-string nose tackle (Jerrell Powe). Oh, yeah, they've got a new coach too. I want to say that we should have beaten Vanderbilt, but they did to us exactly what they did to Auburn and South Carolina; force a lot of turnovers. We routinely play Alabama to a close loss decided in the fourth quarter, so no surprise there. Tyrone Nix was Spurrier's defensive coordinator last season so that would explain Chris Smelley's career outing a couple of weeks ago.
"But, the Florida game," some cry.
We Rebels have an all time winning record against the Gators, with an overwhelmingly favorable record at Florida. I don't think anybody can explain why, but historically we've had their number in Gainesville. It's just one of those many, many bizarre things about SEC football which makes it the greatest dad-gummed sport on Earth.
How have Ole Miss fans responded to Houston? Is the honeymoon still in full force?
It depends on who you're asking. Most people were just elated to see O gone and subsequently replaced by someone who, at least, had some head coaching experience (of the last four coaches Ole Miss has hired, only Houston Nutt has had prior experience as a head coach). There are a few who have emphatically become baptized into the Church of the Right Reverend Houston Dale Nutt. I'm sure you had these crazies at Arkansas, too. No head coach at any football program anywhere should have a platoon of super-lame, obnoxious, kool-aid drinkin' followers … okay, maybe Pete Carroll, but that's understandable and all, what with his dashing good looks and media savvy …
Oh, but where were we? Ah, right, the Houston Nutt honeymoon. Look, we know that he says wacky stuff like "yehaw" and "special" all of the time. We know that he banged a weatherlady (go get 'em, tiger). We know that he's oftentimes self absorbed. We know all of these things. But here's what a lot of you Arkansas fans don't get: we've had fucking batshit motherfucking crazy as a head coach. His name was Ed Orgeron. He had the temperament, body odor, and IQ of a shrimpboat captain. He hated interacting with the fans and media. He bled Red Bull. He was unintelligible. He received counseling for his issues with domestic violence. He was arrested for getting into a bar fight… in Baton Rouge. All of this got him placed on probation from the Athletic Department of the University of MIAMI!
You Hogs love to talk about how horrible Houston Nutt was. Naw, lawya. We know horrible. Trust us. Houston Nutt doesn't hold a candle to Eddie O.
Give us a quick scouting report on your team: what are its strengths? Weaknesses? Secret weapons? (We promise not to forward your replies to the Razorback coaching staff.)
Our strengths lie in our exterior linemen, defensive linemen and wide receivers. Michael Oher is a future NFL star at left tackle, as are Peria Jerry and Greg Hardy at defensive tackle and end, respectively. Shay Hodge is one of the conference's best receivers, Mike Wallace is one of the conference's fastest, and Dexter McCluster (when he's not fumbling drives down the drain) can really expose holes in secondary coverages.
Our greatest weakness is secondary. Boy howdy are we awful at secondary. In our four deep at corner we've got a converted halfback and a converted wideout. We even have an undersized, converted wideout starting at free safety. Our linebackers underperform and our interior linemen are not good run blockers which is why we've had such trouble running up the middle.
Our secret weapons really aren't secrets. Jevan Snead and Brandon Bolden, on average, have played serviceably thus far this season by combining horrible games with stellar games. If they're having a stellar game on Saturday, the Hogs do not stand a chance. If they have a horrible game, such as the game against Vanderbilt, the Hogs will easily win.
Which Ole Miss players are particularly likely to make life miserable for the Hogs on Saturday?
If Greg Hardy is on, a la Alabama last season or Florida this season, Casey Dick will have a miserable, miserable afternoon. He's got some real attitude problems which even suspensions (from O) and depth chart demotions (from Nutt) can't fix. He has been one of the most frustrating players to watch from a Rebel standpoint. He is, without any doubt, the greatest pass rusher in the conference, yet the prospect of NFL dollars has him walking around like his fecal excretions do not emit odor. Greg, if you're reading this, they do.
Also, if Dexter McCluster isn't fumbling the ball away he'll rack up a fair amount of all purpose yards on Saturday. His quickness really allows him to get open which is why Jevan loves to get the ball to him on third down.
The SEC seems to be in flux this year, with some traditional powers fading and other teams on the rise. Where do you see the Rebels in, say, three years?
That's a tough question to answer. I don't own a crystal ball and, ever since Miss Cleo's bullshit was exposed a few years ago, I've never trusted anyone who said they could predict the future. In three seasons, Jevan will have graduated, along with much of Coach O's recruits. If Houston Nutt is able to develop good relationships with high school coaches in Mississippi and channel the talent into Oxford as opposed to having it divided up among LSU, Mississippi schools and Alabama schools, we should be alright. Enrique Davis and Brandon Bolden will both be seniors in three seasons and perhaps Nutt could utilize the two of them in a run-oriented offense designed to wear down defenses and burn the clock.
How big a rival do Rebel fans consider the Hogs to be? Given the coaching situation and name-calling between the fans on both sides (you guys seem to be enjoying fanning the flames!), do you see it developing into something even more intense over the coming years?
My annoyance with the Hog fan base puts them in my number three slot. I (unlike most Ole Miss fans) despise the Mississippi State Maroons the most of all. They're an in-state rival, we compete for the same high school talent, they're shitty, etc. Next is, of course the LSU Bayou Bengals and that is, of course, founded in historical precedence. Ole Miss and LSU have had an intensely heated rivalry since the Billy Cannon punt return days (watching that clip stings big time). Most Rebel fans would have Arkansas around Auburn and Alabama, but the fact that Arkansas only became an SEC school so recently really hurts its case for being a "rival." Remember, in Mississippi "the past isn't dead, it isn't even past."
I feel Arkansas fans have been looking for a legitimate rival for quite some time and have funneled this frustration onto the Rebs. Because of this lack of historical precedence, I honestly see most of the bad blood dying down after this season. At the Cup we do like to fan the flames, but that is generally because only the second dumbest portion of your fanbase (they're smart enough to type, alright) seems to be the one petty enough to (initially) invite themselves over to an opposing blog and make fools of themselves. It's wildly entertaining to us so we've kept it up on our end.
There are smart, sensible Razorback fans. I've interacted with them before. They're just not the ones to throw stones. They're certainly critical, but not whiny and barely literate. Most of them have directed their attention towards evaluating your new coach as opposed to criticizing your old one.
Having all of that having been said, I hope the Rebs destroy the Hogs this weekend. I fear that it won't silence the crazies, but I can hope, can't I?
What's your prediction for the final score on Saturday?
Houston's Harrowing Hopeful, 31 – The Porcine Petrino Posse, 24.