Wednesday Practice Report

Temperatures rose dramatically Wednesday in Oxford, and it apparently brought out the best in the Rebels at practice. Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt was emphatic that his Rebels "owe the fans" a better outing this time around. Read about it inside.

After what seemed like a couple of weeks of practice with temperatures in the 80s, the 90s came back Wednesday in a full-pad workout session for the Ole Miss Rebels.

The early forecast for Saturday's 11:20 a.m. game against Vanderbilt was temps in the low 80s. That's now been changed to 92 degrees and cloudy/overcast.

"It got hotter today," said Coach Houston Nutt, "but from what I understand, it's going to be pretty hot at the game, so we needed some practice in the heat."

Despite the heat, Nutt was extremely happy with the workout.

"We were very enthusiastic today. The guys ran around hard and had a better feel for the gameplan," said Nutt. "We need one more good mental day like today and we'll be ready to roll."

Houston Nutt

The spotlight this week has been on the offensive line with a new starter - Mike Brown - blending in.

"They were physical today. They had a good day. I feel good about them right now," he continued. "They are going to make a few mistakes, but I can live with that because it's not easy jumping in there and playing like we have asked some of them to do, but what I like about them is that they are physical, they will go hard, they will fight hard. I can live with that. As long as they will play like an Ole Miss Rebel, I will feel good.

"It's when you go through the motions and halfway it is when you get in trouble. Find another color jersey and hit somebody, even if you don't know what to do at times. That's what I am seeing right now and I like it."

Nutt has also seen the defense up their game this week so far.

"They have been humbled a little bit. They have given us more effort this week. They know we are leaning on them and depending on them. They are showing a lot of pride right now because they want to play better," Nutt stated. "They know they have done well for two or three quarters each game, but the last time I looked, we can't count a halftime score or the score at the end of three quarters."

Nutt feels the second start for QB Jeremiah Masoli will be better than the first as well.

"I look for him to make another jump this week. He's really comfortable right now. He loves what we do on offense and he's executing at a high level," said Houston.

Vandy is rolling into town and Houston believes the Rebels need to get going for the Rebel fans.

Jeremiah Masoli

"We want to help create a hostile environment for Vanderbilt. This is the first SEC game of the year, and as far as I am concerned, the biggest game of the year," Nutt said. "We owe our fans four quarters. We owe the fans big time. Anybody can play two quarters, but as I said, that doesn't count. Our fans deserve better than what we showed in the opener."

Random Notes:

* OLB Mike Marry was not at practice. We are assuming he has gone home to Clearwater, FL, to be with his family. He will miss the Vandy game due to his Grandmother's funeral.

* Freshman TB Jeff Scott missed Tuesday's practice with a bug/fever, but he was back in the fold Wednesday. Jeff, we were told, wanted to practice yesterday, but the team doctors/trainers opted to hold him out until he felt a little better.

* RG Josh Tatum, who injured his ankle in the Tulane game, was jogging Wednesday, but he was still favoring the hurt ankle. He will miss the game against the Commodores.

* DE Cameron Whigham, who has an ankle/lower leg injury, was dressed out Wednesday and trying to practice.

* The season has barely gotten going good, but already you can see some of the younger player's bodies changing due to the in-season weightlifting program. Varsity players lift three times a week with minimal leg work, but redshirts lift four times a week with more leg work, but limited to keep their legs fresh for practices. . . Some players who stand out as having made strides include WR Vincent Sanders, who has gone from a reporting weight of 171 to 183 and has worked hard on filling out his upper body. You'll recall that Vincent broke his jaw during his senior season in high school and was on a liquid diet for six weeks. He lost down to 165 pounds on his 6-3 frame. He still needs to gain 10-15 more pounds but you can already tell he's gotten thicker. . . Freshman OL Terrence Hackney has shed some weight, mostly body fat, and is now around 300 pounds and looking solid. He's worked on his flexibility and strength and has improved both, we were told, "dramatically.". . . Freshman OL Jared Duke, who reported back in the summer at 362 pounds, is now down to 331, which has helped his bench, strength and endurance. . . Freshman OL Patrick Junen has added strength to his impressive arsenal. Junen, who appears to be headed for playing time along with Duke on the PAT/FG team, has an opportunity, according to some upperclassmen, to crack the starting lineup on the OL as early as next year. . . . Freshman Safety Brishen Mathews, who plays on special teams and is a backup at safety, is now 200 pounds. He was 190 when he reported in the summer. . . Frosh DTs Carlton Martin and Bryon Bennett also continue to impress. Martin, at 292 pounds, recently broad jumped 9-6 and had a vertical over 30 inches. That's explosiveness for a guy nearly 300 pounds. Bennett is a bit - just a bit - stronger than Martin and has turned some heads of the coaches and weight staff with his toughness.

* There's a lot of beef on the number one PAT/FG unit. LE- Junen, LT Bradley Sowell, LG Alex Washington, RG Jared Duke, RT Bobby Massie, RE A.J. Hawkins. TE Ferbia Allen and FB E.J. Epperson are the wings. DS Wesley Phillips, who is 6-0, 220 pounds, looks dwarfed amongst those very large young men up front.

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