Tuesday Practice Report

The Rebels worked out in full pads on the practice fields Tuesday with a distinct message from the Ole Miss coaches - get tougher. Read about it inside.

Offensive Line Coach Mike Markuson was barking at his young troops as they were running through bag drills at Tuesday's full-pad practice.

"Football is a mindset men. If you think soft, you will play soft. If you think tough and hard, you will play tough and hard," he repeated over and over.

Thus, the theme of the day.

Bradley Sowell

Certainly, that's an underlying mantra every day, but Tuesday the Ole Miss coaches seemed to stress it more forcefully as they practiced under hot conditions for Saturday's Vanderbilt game that looms just around the corner.

"You will make mistakes in football," said Coach Houston Nutt, "but you can overcome a lot of them if you are physical, tough and play hard every snap. We drive that point home every day, but we emphasized it a little extra today.

"One of our biggest traits as a staff has been to have physical and tough team. I know this team can be tougher and more physical. I know we can play faster. When we know what to do and get in the right spots, I know we can be good."

Nutt was pleased with Tuesday's workout.

"We had a good day," said Nutt. "Tuesday is a real hard hat day with the first day of gameplanning. There's always a little bit of roughness to it and it was good today.

"It was really good today to teach off of a win instead of a loss. We got so eaten up with the loss last week that it took a while to get going on Tulane. We had a hangover. That crowd leaves early and it's not a good atmosphere or a good feeling, but all is right this week as we prepare for Vandy."

WR Coach Ron Dickerson had a "hot" receiver last Saturday night - Markeith Summers - and he went with him.

"Markeith has worked hard to be one of the main guys this year. He studies hard in the film room, figures out the tendencies of the DBs he'll be facing and is making plays," said Ron. "He was hot, so I went with him. I am not surprised with what I am seeing from him right now.

"He's been in the shadow of Mike Wallace and Shay Hodge the past two years, but now it's his turn and he's accepting the challenge. He's wanted to get better, he's wanted to be the guy and he's worked to get to that level."

Melvin Harris, who had an excellent camp and a TD in the opener, didn't get as many opportunities as he did in the opener. Again, Summers was hot.

"Melvin was part of the rotation last week, but we are going to feed the beast and Markeith was the beast on that night. They both play the same position, so the guy who is on fire will play," said Ron. "Melvin understood that and came out today and had a great day. I expect great things from him. Who knows? This may be his week with the hot hand, but whoever has the hot hand will get the opportunities."

Dickerson said the receivers are enjoying working with Masoli at QB for a couple of reasons.

Ron Dickerson

"It's fun to be a receiver with a scrambling QB like Jeremiah. As a receiver, when he's back there buying time, you have to stay alive in your routes and be keen on what he's doing because you could be getting the ball," Dickerson explained. "On a play where you might start out as a decoy, you can quickly become the primary receiver and that's fun for receivers."

Random Notes

* QB Nathan Stanley had a sore arm last week and was limited in his action against Tulane. "He's a little better today. He practiced well and had a good attitude about it," said Nutt.

* Right after stretch every day, the offense and defense breaks apart and runs a few team drills to get loosened up a little more. The offense runs some select plays against "air." In that session Tuesday, redshirt freshman Michael Brown and junior Logan Clair rotated at right guard in place of injured Josh Tatum (ankle), who started against Tulane after Rishaw Johnson was dismissed from the team last week. Clair has been backing up Bobby Massie at right tackle. Brown, until he played Saturday after Tatum got hurt, was the backup left guard to starter Alex "Tank" Washington. True freshman Jared Duke was also in the mix, but not as prominently in that drill as Brown and Clair. "They did good today picking up the gameplan while having a lot thrown at them," Nutt stated.

* On the injury front, Tatum was not dressed out Tuesday. Freshman DE Cameron Whigham (ankle) was also MIA and not dressed. TB Jeff Scott missed Tuesday's practice due to an illness.

* Sophomore Jason Jones will now be backing up starter Wayne Dorsey at DE in Whigham's place, but don't be surprised to see D.T. Shackelford at that position Saturday and it would not be a shock to see freshman Carlos Thompson get some reps there as well. "I was proud of Carlos in the Tulane game. It's a big challenge coming from Friday night football to Saturday night football and he handled it well," noted Nutt.

* Starting FS Fon Ingram missed Tuesday's practice due to his class schedule.

* OLB Mike Marry, who backs up Allen Walker, is expected to miss Saturday's game against Vanderbilt to attend a funeral due to a death in his family. He practiced Tuesday.

Jeremiah Masoli

* In those offensive team drills, for the first time all year, QB Jeremiah Masoli took the first snap with the first-team offense. Nathan Stanley alternated with Masoli, while Randall Mackey and Evan Ingram directed the second team offense.

"He did a nice job against Tulane for the most part," said Nutt. "He gained a lot of confidence from his teammates too by driving them down the field and putting the ball in the end zone.

"What's difficult right now is getting our offensive line situated. Just as Josh Tatum was getting settled in and doing pretty good, he goes down and in comes another baby - Michael Brown. That's what is difficult, but Jeremiah has done a good job with that aspect as well."

Nutt has been proud of the way Masoli has meshed with the team thus far. "I have a lot of respect for him. You don't know how a player will react in those circumstances of a new team and a new offense, but he's been awesome handling everything."

* DE Gerald Rivers, who got 72 snaps while starting for Kentrell Lockett in the opener, was absent in the Tulane game. He had to sit out with a one-game suspension due to missing classes during the spring semester. Gerald is now back in good graces and was backing up Lockett Tuesday in all drills.

* WR Jared Mitchell was hobbled last week with a hyperextended knee, but he's back in the fold now.

* OL Jared Duke appears to have taken Tatum's place at right guard on field goals and PATs. At least he was working with the first unit in that capacity Tuesday in kicking drills.

* CB Tony Grimes got his first taste of collegiate football against Tulane. Insiders are indicating Tony will get more playing time in base calls, but he's struggling - naturally - a bit with checked defensive plays. Backup CB Charles Sawyer has experienced a few mental lapses as well, but his year in the system has kept him in the lineup. We're told he's now going through the process of learning via experience, making a few errors and correcting them as he goes, a natural progression.

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