Ole Miss looks for consistency from DE Greg Hardy Print
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Wednesday, 15 October 2008 13:49
NCAAF Headline News

 What was supposed to be a relaxing weekend off was anything but for Mississippi coach Houston Nutt because of an erroneous report that defensive end Greg Hardy had been kicked off the team.
Among the callers: Hardy's mom, Lan.
``My phone blew up this weekend about his 'dismissal' and his mom called me wanting to know if it was true,'' Nutt said. ``I said, 'Absolutely not. I'd probably tell Greg first, then call his mom for sure. All that didn't happen.'''
It's just the latest wacky turn of events in the college career of the uniquely talented junior. The rumors capped a difficult week for Hardy after he was pulled from the South Carolina game for a lack of effort.
Hardy was not the only defensive player underperforming against South Carolina, but his absence late in the game was noticeable.
``I treat Greg just like I treat my own son,'' defensive line coach Tracy Rocker said. ``If you're not going to do your best I've got a problem and that's all we ask.''
rgeron for violating team rules. Yet he still led the SEC with 10 sacks and was second in tackles for loss at 18.5.
Hardy was unavailable for an interview with The Associated Press on Monday and Tuesday because of class conflicts.
After missing the first three games of 2008 with foot surgery, Hardy made a dazzling return with a sack against Vanderbilt in just 15 plays. A week later, he spurred the Rebels' stunning 31-30 upset of then-No. 4 Florida with another 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss.
He was so dominant, he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, harassing Heisman Trophy-winner Tim Tebow as the quarterback tried to get rid of the ball under extreme pressure.
A week later, Hardy virtually disappeared in a lackluster 31-24 loss to South Carolina. First he was ineffective, then he was yanked by Rocker, who knows a little something about line play as a two-time All-American defensive tackle.
Nutt said the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Hardy was ``fine'' last week in practice and that Rocker was simply trying to fire him up to return to his game-dominating ways.
``We expect so much from Greg Hardy because he's a difference maker, and he's on the cover of 'Sports Illustrated' one week and we want that guy to come back,'' Nutt said. ``We want him to come back every Saturday. He wasn't the only one, but we put so much on him because we expect so much from Greg.''
k in the schedule, Ole Miss plays at No. 2 Alabama on Saturday
Hardy showed just how destructive he can be in last year's game against Alabama. In what arguably was his best game, he had 13 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and broke up a pass.
But will that Hardy show up against the Tide this season.
``I know one thing - when this is all done and Greg is 30 years old, he's going to know I asked him to do his best,'' Rocker said. ``That's all I can do as a coach.''
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WILD TIGER: With so many experienced running backs and two new quarterbacks still getting comfortable with the passing game, it was probably only a matter of time before LSU experimented with a direct snap to a running back.
Richard Murphy took a direct snap on a running play against Florida late in the third quarter of LSU's 51-21 loss to the Gators last Saturday night. It gained only a couple yards that time. Yet, given how much LSU likes to run the ball anyway, the direct snap has obvious potential.
Whether they call it the ``Wild Tiger'' formation, an offshoot of the ``Wild Hog'' that Arkansas used with Darren McFadden last season, remains to be seen.
``We haven't even named it yet,'' Murphy told The Advocate of Baton Rouge this week. ``I knew it was a possibility that we'd run it because we started working on it last week and (offensive coordinator Gary Crowton) liked it.''
for 181 yards per game, with Charles Scott averaging 114. LSU could also run direct snaps to Keiland Williams and the small but fast Trindon Holliday.
``We need to keep this,'' Murphy said. ``If we get more used to the blocking scheme and it works, I think we can run it more.''
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GATORS BAROMETER: When linebacker Brandon Spikes plays well, so does Florida's defense.
Spikes had one of the best games of his career last week against LSU. He had two interceptions, five tackles and even more quarterback pressures. He returned one of his picks for a touchdown in the 51-21 victory and was named SEC defensive player of the week.
It was a big turnaround for the junior who apologized for his lackluster performance against Arkansas the previous week.
``We revolve around Spikes,'' cornerback Joe Haden said. ``If he comes out with energy and is playing good, then the whole defense is gonna play good. ... If Spikes is down, the defense is down.''
Spikes struggled against the Razorbacks, and the Gators allowed 361 yards - many of them on the ground in the middle linebacker's direction. Michael Smith finished with 133 yards and a touchdown.
Even though Florida won, Spikes felt like he owed his teammates an apology. So he stood up in a team meeting and vowed to be better.
ly answered the bell against the run.''
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MISSED KICKS: To understand kicker Ryan Succop's problems last week, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier turned to one of his other loves - golf.
Succop missed four field goals in the Gamecocks' 24-17 win over Kentucky last Saturday, including a 39-yarder with 2:13 left after Spurrier decided against going for it on fourth-and-inches to give the senior one more chance.
Kicker is one of the few places Spurrier hasn't had to worry about consistency the past few years. Succop missed just four field goals in each his sophomore and junior seasons.
Succop suffered an abdominal strain the week before, missing one of his two field goals in a win over Mississippi. He sat out of a few practices, and South Carolina special teams coach Ray Rychleski said he was upset with himself for letting Succop kick against the Wildcats.
Spurrier shrugged off the injury excuse, instead giving Succop advice he's surely heard on the links.
``Quit taking so much time,'' Spurrier said. ``He gets out there and it looks like he is just thinking too much. Just get set up and go and make a good swing and that's all you can do. Same as golf.''
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AP Sports Writers Mark Long in Gainesville, Fla., Brett Martel in New Orleans, and Pete Iacobelli in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.
 

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