September 23, 2008

Snead looks to make better decisions

It was painful, but Jevan Snead watched Saturday's film on Sunday afternoon with both eyes wide open, dissecting his mistakes even as Houston Nutt and Kent Austin discussed them.

"We definitely have a lot of things we can work on, but once again, we were that close to winning and we didn't play well," Snead said on Monday, two days after the worst day of his college career, a four-interception performance that played a role in Ole Miss' 23-17 loss to Vanderbilt, one that extended the Rebels' Southeastern Conference losing streak to nine games. "Once we get it rolling and get to playing well, there's no telling how good we can do."

Snead's statistics have fallen off after a hot start. Through four games, Snead is now 55-for-102 passing, good for 844 yards and six touchdowns. However, it's the seven interceptions _ including six in the last two games against Samford and Vanderbilt _ that are being dissected in those dark film rooms as well as in the glare of the spotlight that shines on every SEC starting quarterback.

"I think that was a part of it, just trying to do too much. I need to learn when to call it a day as far as the play and when I need to just throw it away, throw it out of bounds and not try to force it."

That was a message Snead delivered to himself in the quiet hours Sunday morning as he tried to come to grips with what was going wrong so suddenly.

"I just went straight home," Snead said. "I mean, my parents came and my little brother and I talked to them for a little bit and then I just went home and tried to go to bed. I beat myself up over that. Anytime you perform poorly, I expect so much of myself that I don't find that acceptable and I just realized I could have played a lot better and that's what I'm going to work towards."

Nutt said Snead is, at least in part, paying the price for his hot start. Teams have scouted the 6-foot-3 Texan now, and they're sending as much pressure as possible to get him out of sorts in the pocket.

"Jevan's gotta realize, this is his fourth game, and he's getting some things he's never seen before," Nutt said. "You know, we can prepare him all week and then they'll put in a little wrinkle. They brought a free safety on first down. First down! They've never done that. First down! Free safety blitz. And the speed of the game. It's the speed of the game. He's going to get better and better and better, I know he is. It's just about going back out there and working a little bit harder, concentrating a little bit better, and expecting some different things.

"Expect blitz. They're going to try to put pressure on him, because they know if they give him time, they know what he's going to do, that he will hurt you. He's proven that. He's had to escape some problems too, now, and gave us a chance to win. As bad as he played, he really put us in a position to win the game by coming out of a blitz by throwing it to Dexter (McCluster) to get us to the (Vanderbilt 7-yard line). So I have a lot of confidence in him. He's learning, he's growing, he's going to get better. He knows. No quarterback - I played the position - no quarterback goes out there ever with the intent, 'I'm going to throw an interception today.' He'll to do it. They don't want to. But we're in the best conference in America. Tastest athletes in America, we play against. So your mind has got to speed up, and he will."

It's a message Snead has heard more than a few times now. And he knows it's 100 percent true. He also knows that he has to do a better job of making decisions in the handful of seconds he has from the pre-snap reads to the actual delivery of the football to the receiver.

"There are a couple of different things," Snead said. "They're scheming us just like we're scheming them, so they'll go out there and bring one blitz one time and see how we're blocking it up and try to bring it in another way where they think we can't block it up. I do my best to see how they're doing it pre-snap and for the most part, I knew where they were coming from most of the time.

"I felt like my mechanics were better this week. A lot of it was just my decision-making. I had a couple of times where I threw off my back foot because I had some pressure. I should have just thrown it out of bounds. Another time I made a bad read and threw it to the wrong side. On the pick six (in the first quarter), I should have not even gone to that side. It was a bad decision. On the naked (bootleg in the fourth quarter) that we had, I just tried to squeeze the ball in there and there was really no place to put the ball and I just tried to make it something happen where there wasn't anything."

The struggles are a new experience for the Parade All-American who started as a true freshman at Texas and claimed the starting job at Ole Miss with relative ease.

"Obviously, I'm very disappointed in myself," Snead said. "I'm just going to work hard on it to improve this week."

While he might be administering some self-help to his psyche, Snead doesn't have to worry about his teammates as the Rebels get ready for Saturday's challenge at No. 4 Florida.

"Jevan, I know what he can do," McCluster said. "The whole team does. He's a quarterback, man, and we're going to get it right this week."

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