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Looking forward

Petre Thomas/The Daily Mississippian

Saturday’s 31-3 loss in the Egg Bowl to Mississippi State ended the Houston Nutt era in Oxford, but it also was the beginning of a new era that has nowhere to go but up.

Sophomore quarterback Barry Brunetti made his second start of the season against the Bulldogs and played the whole game for the Rebels. Brunetti completed 12 of 22 passes for 110 yards and ran for another 23 yards on the ground. The transfer from West Virginia was understandably frustrated after the game and is ready to get things going in the right direction with the football program.

“We’ve got a bad taste in our mouths,” Brunetti said. “We look at it as a new beginning. We have to put it behind us and get ready for the spring and next year. We can’t let this happen again. We are going to put this season behind us and go to work. I don’t ever want to think about it again.”

Next season the Rebels will have a new coach, but who that new coach is remains to be seen. Former Ole Miss great Archie Manning and FedEx Vice President Mike Glenn are leading the search committee responsible for finding that guy. Brunetti would love to see some things in the new coach.

“(I want a coach who will) bring in discipline, show hope and believe in us,” Brunetti said. “Don’t look at this season as how we are. We’ve got great young talent. We’ve got a lot of great players that can do a lot of great things. Just believe in us, and we can do it.”

Those young guys are led by the freshmen wide receivers in Tobias Singleton, Donte Moncrief, Nickolas Brassell and Collins Moore. Singleton, who accounted for 107 all-purpose yards against Mississippi State, is ready to see who comes in to lead the Rebels.

“I pay attention to everything,” Singleton said of the coaching search. “I hope they get a coach that can spread the ball around to all our talented players.”
Both Brunetti and Singleton know it will take more than just a new coach to be successful next season and in the future.
“We have to get tougher,” Brunetti said. “We’ve got to get faster, be more disciplined out there on the field and not hurt ourselves as much this year.”

Singleton said he is dedicated to getting things turned around in Oxford.

“(I have to) come out and give it my all every day,” he said. “Especially after losing a big game like this — it makes me want to come out and bring it even harder.”

Brunetti will be in the hunt to be the starting quarterback next season, along with seniors-to-be Randall Mackey and Zack Stoudt. When asked what he needs to improve in order to separate himself from the rest of the pack and lead the team, his answer was simple.

“Everything,” he said.
“Having these guys believe in me for next year. I’ll throw every day, I’ll run. I promise we won’t have another season like this again.”

Along with rumors about the new head coach, there have also been rumors of players leaving the program. According to Singleton, all of the younger players have become closer since hearing that Nutt would be let go.

“It brought us real close,” he said. “People talked about leaving, but I think we realized we can win if we stick together. So, that’s what we’re going to do.”

If one thing is certain, Ole Miss is in need of a change. The players, fans and everyone associated with the football program want to see things heading in the right direction. Players such as Brunetti and Singleton are tired of losing and will do whatever it takes to turn this football program around.

“We hate this taste in our mouths,” Brunetti said. “We wish we had a bowl game. But now, we’ve got to put this behind us. It’s over and done with. We can’t change it. We just have to look forward now.”