Rebels turn to Stanley with Masoli ineligible
AP Sports Writer
OXFORD, Miss. – Mississippi coach Houston Nutt allowed himself a few hours of anguish over Tuesday’s news that quarterback Jeremiah Masoli’s waiver request to play immediately was denied by the NCAA.
But by Wednesday’s practice, there was no more time for despair. Ready or not, Nathan Stanley’s time has arrived.
“He knows the playbook, he’s got a spring under his belt and he’s played in the Cotton Bowl,” Nutt said. “He’s going to be all right.”
The lanky 6-foot-5, 215-pound sophomore from Tahlequah, Okla., completed 11 of 23 passes for 163 yards, one touchdown and one interception last season as Jevan Snead’s backup, but remains largely untested in game situations.
Most of Stanley’s playing time was during blowouts against lesser opponents, but he did see extended action against Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl after Snead left the game because of an injury.
Nutt said Stanley played well in both spring practice and preseason camp, leaving little worry about how he’ll perform on Saturday against Jacksonville State in Oxford.
Stanley, who is in his third year with the program after redshirting in 2008, isn’t the only one on the Mississippi offense who doesn’t have much experience. The Rebels’ will likely use eight new starters on Saturday while trying to replace their leading rusher and leading receiver from last season.
“I’ve become really comfortable making my reads and finding the open receiver,” Stanley said. “The game’s difference of course. Things move fast. But I’m ready.”
Another option is junior college transfer Randall Mackey, who threw for 3,122 yards, rushed for 579 yards and accounted for 37 touchdowns last season at East Mississippi Community College. He doesn’t know the offense as well as Stanley, but he’s able to make more plays with his running ability.
Mackey could be useful in the offense’s “Wild Rebel” formation, a Nutt concoction that features mostly option plays, reverses and misdirection. It relies on the quarterback’s ability to make good decisions and gain yardage on the ground.
Nutt expects Mackey to play against Jacksonville State, though he wasn’t sure how much.
“He can do just about everything,” Nutt said. “He’s really come on.”
Mackey said the NCAA’s ruling on Masoli was tough on the team, but there wasn’t any time to be upset with a game just days away. Stanley and Mackey are the only two scholarship quarterbacks left on the roster.
“It’s down to me and Nate so we’ve got to move on,” Mackey said. “That’s part of football. We know we’ve got the guys to do the job right.”
Masoli, who transferred from Oregon, was ruled ineligible for the 2010 season after his request to waive a one-year residency requirement was denied by the NCAA. The school appealed, with a decision due in the next week.