This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
OXFORD, Miss. — BYU will kick off its first season as an independent amid swirling rumors of yet more conference realignment on the road this weekend against Ole Miss. The Rebels are coached by Houston Nutt, who is entering his fourth season in Oxford.
"It ought to be an exciting opener. We're playing a team that is coming off a real high the last five or six games they played," Nutt said in his opening statement to the media earlier this week. "They won a bowl game. (They're) a good, experienced group, (with) a quarterback that has a lot of confidence coming back."
- BYU (0-0) at Ole Miss (0-0)
- Date: Saturday Sept. 3, 2011
- Time: 3:46 p.m. CT (2:46 p.m. MT)
- Site: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (Oxford, Mississippi)
- TV: ESPN, ESPN3.com
- Radio: KSL Radio 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and ksl.com
- Kickoff Weather: Partly cloudy with a chance of showers. Temp: mid 90s
Nutt shared his thoughts on his team for opening game and the upcoming season.
On what he expects from his young team:
"I don't know. I just know this: I know what they put into it. I know how hard they worked. I know that we put them through a grind and now it's time to say, ‘Hey, the training wheels are off now. We gotta play for real.' You're just hoping you've been over enough things, over enough that they can put it on auto-pilot and go work hard and play good."
On the quarterback position:
"The biggest difference from last year, we didn't know the outcome of (former starter Jeremiah) Masoli, but Barry (Brunetti, the starter for the BYU game) has been here since January. He's been here and gotten a lot of good reps … He's the one that has been the most accountable, the guy that has been there. The thing that is good is right now, we know who is going to play. It's not going to be a surprise and all that. I'm excited about Barry and how hard he has worked as well."
On newcomers making an impact:
"Absolutely they have passed (my expectations). When you watch film, you evaluate, you had them in camps, you have a feeling like you know them. When they got here, the thing that wasn't on the piece of paper and some of the things that even ya'll have written about them that wasn't on there, was their competitive spirit. They have raised the level of our team, starting in the summer. All of these guys, they've won a lot of games. They weren't afraid to say that, ‘Hey, I'm coming here to play.' Especially with the receivers. I mean, their competitive spirit that you love so much. I keep telling them every day, ‘Keep this group together. If you stay here four, five years, it will be special times at Ole Miss.' I knew they'd be good players, but a lot of times in our league, it takes a while. And then sometimes, with injuries, you look up and we need (them). They're getting reps and it's a grind … I couldn't be prouder."
On BYU and what stands out to him:
"Just getting to know Bronco Mendenhall, I know that they are going to be tough. They are smart. They're disciplined. I know they have a lot of experience. I know they have a quarterback that has a lot of confidence coming back, with receivers that are tall. They have some big offensive linemen; so naturally, you know they have a good football team. There is nothing like momentum coming off a bowl victory and going into off-season. It gives your team a lot of confidence and hope. You know they have those three things. It all falls back into experience. They're tough, they are disciplined, they don't beat themselves. It's a pretty good recipe."
On BYU's maturity compared to his own players:
"Well, I wish I had a few more 25-, 26-year-old guys. That's got to be something. There's got to be some difference there when a guy is able to go out, grow up and learn and make a commitment like they do, and then come back and you're a freshman. Man, what a great feeling as a coach to have that kind of maturity. But, we don't have that luxury. Some of these freshmen probably should be maybe in a freezer or redshirt, but they got to play. They got to play now. So, you have to take that. They'll have to grow and we'll have to grow with them. The good thing about it is they're athletic. I'm glad they are here with us. It is what it is. BYU has a pretty good thing going right there when you are able to do that.
Landon Walters is a history and political science major currently studying at Salt Lake Community College and is an avid sports fan. He can be reached at email@example.com.