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November 11, 2010

Rebels hopeful Masoli will be cleared for Vols

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OXFORD, Miss. -- Tim Mullins will likely feel a pair of eyes burning a proverbial hole through him over the next 36 hours or so.

Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt said Thursday he's waiting on Mullins, the Rebels' head athletic trainer, to "let me know" regarding the availability of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.

Masoli suffered a concussion five days ago in the second quarter of Ole Miss' 43-21 win over Louisiana-Lafayette and has not yet been cleared to play in the Rebels' date with Southeastern Conference foe Tennessee Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.

"He's the one that's got to give him the helmet and say, 'Hey, you can go out there and play,'" Nutt said. "That's the bottom line."

Nutt said he's hoping to get that word from Mullins Friday night. Ole Miss leaves Oxford for Knoxville late Friday morning and will arrive in east Tennessee early in the afternoon. The Rebels (4-5 overall, 1-4 SEC) and Tennessee (3-6, 0-5 SEC) kick off at noon EST (11 a.m. CST) Saturday.

Nutt said Masoli's role in Thursday's practice "was about the same as yesterday -- a few more plays. Yesterday, he had a few more plays than he did the day before. Today was about the same as yesterday."

If Masoli can't play, Nathan Stanley would start for the second time this season. Stanley relieved Masoli Saturday and was 6-for-14 passing.

"The best thing that happened was he got to play last week," Nutt said. "He got back in the huddle. He got to play in real competitive situations. That's the best thing that happened. That helps."

HOUSE OF HORRORS: Despite suffering a couple of the most disappointing losses of his coaching career at Neyland Stadium, Nutt said he has good memories of the mammoth stadium on the banks of the Tennessee River.

Nutt's first Arkansas lost in 1998 when Clint Stoerner famously _ or infamously, depending on perspective _ fumbled in the fourth quarter, opening the door for a Tennessee comeback victory. The 28-24 loss killed the Razorbacks' burgeoning national title hopes. Tennessee went on to claim that crown.

Four years later, Nutt's Hogs lost to Tennessee, 41-38, in six overtimes.

"We always played real good up there, but the one memory they still play every so often," Nutt said, laughing. "What's amazing is we beat Tennessee the very next year by the same score and people don't bring that one up."

Nutt called that Nov. 14 night a dozen years ago "a sad night," and admitted he thought about it on Sunday when he turned his attention to Saturday's date with the Volunteers.

"You can't help but think about it, but I usually have some good thoughts about that place," Nutt said. "We had a lot of them quiet during that time. Guys were playing hard on offense, defense and special teams and competing very hard against a great team."


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