Wednesday Practice Report

The Rebels continued on their theme this week of elimination. . . D.T. may be able to dress out Saturday. . . Korvic Neat is out this week. . . Read about it inside.

Now that it's hump day in the week, and the sting of last Saturday's loss has given way, somewhat, to the anticipation of this Saturday's match with Fresno State, rational analysis of the setback to Vandy leads to one conclusion.

Eliminate some basic mistakes and win.

Granted, that could probably be said in some form or fashion about every game, but against the Commodores the miscues were glaring.

Three or four critical assignment busts on defense, a couple of major dropped passes, an ill-advised interception toss and a fumble deep in Rebel territory on offense and presto, a win becomes a loss.

Consequently, the Rebels are working on the process of elimination this week in practice, as in, eliminating glaring mistakes.

Mistakes are going to be made, but the avoidance of the "fatal" kind are key to any future success, as Coach Houston Nutt explains.

"We had another good practice today. I think we got better. I like the way we are moving around and their energy. We need a really good mental day tomorrow, especially on special teams," Nutt began.

Houston Nutt

"We have to eliminate mistakes and that has been our focus this week. You do that by taking it one play at a time, everyone doing their job, stressing taking care of the ball, knowing what to do and doing it fast.

"We have placed a big emphasis on cleaning those kinds of issues up this week."

Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix has also placed emphasis on doing things correctly.

"We're trying to be better execution wise, be more physical and finish," Nix noted. "We have to do the little things right and we also have to find a way to create more turnovers. We have continued to work the fundamentals because it all starts there.

"All 11 on the same page with a relentless attitude is what we are striving for and I feel we are getting closer to that level. We'll see, but that is our goal."

Co-Offensive Coordinator Dave Rader said taking care of the ball is stressed daily, but maybe even more than ever this week.

"We stress that every day, but it's so apparent what we are doing wrong. We have come up short in two games and what's been the common factor? In both games, we have had three turnovers in each," Rader noted. "Our guys are smart understand that and are working on it. They understand they have families who drive hours and hours to see them play and none of them come here to see us throw interceptions or lay the ball on the ground.

"We emphasize ball security all the time. The attitude has to become that the ball is precious and we must take care of it."

The offense is working with a relatively new line. How does that affect what the gameplan entails?

Dave Rader

"We can't do near as much, especially in protections. We do the things we know we can do best, but we also challenge the guys to see what they can handle and accomplish," Rader noted. "What we are learning from some of our younger guys is that they are not intimidated, they will put their face in the action and they will play hard. That gives you a chance to do more on offense and to accomplish some things, but nothing will be accomplished we can hang our hats on until we quit turning the ball over."

Random Notes:

* LB/DE D.T. Shackelford was held out of practice Wednesday to give the ankle he sprained Tuesday a day of rest. There is no official word on whether or not he will practice Thursday, but D.T. sounds extremely confident he will play against Fresno and also indicated this injury is not as bad as the ankle injury that affected him for several weeks last year.

We'll keep our fingers crossed because Shackelford has given the Rebels some inspiring, effective play in the first three games and it appeared he was just starting to hit his stride. Although D.T. did not practice, he went through stretch with the team and was seen walking normally, not favoring the hurt ankle. "He was a lot better today. We hope to get him back for Saturday's game. We'll see," Nutt noted.

* WR Korvic Neat, who pulled his hamstring Tuesday, is out for the Fresno game, and the early indication is he may miss the Kentucky contest too, even though it's kind of early to predict that for sure. In his absence, the Rebels are looking in three directions to handle his duties - Jessie Grandy being inserted into some personnel packages that Neat was in on that he wasn't previously, Derrick Herman getting some more looks at both TB and WR, and freshman Jeff Scott taking up Neat's slack at running back. All the details of that have not been worked out completely, but those are the most discussed options at this point. "Derrick and Jeff will get the bulk of it, but Jesse will get some of it too," Houston stated. "We need more big plays from Jesse and he'll get the opportunity to do that."

* Brandon Bolden tweaked his hamstring in the Vanderbilt game but has not missed dressing out for practice this week. His work has been limited somewhat, but it sounds as if he's prepared to play against the Bulldogs.

* While the elimination of mistakes is the battle cry for the week, part of that, on defense, is also the cleaning up of errors when they do happen by the secondary. With three players - Kendrick Lewis, Marshay Green and Cassius Vaughn - now in the NFL from last year's secondary, it's asking a lot of the newcomers, but that's part of their job. When things do break down and runners get to the third level, they have to get them on the ground. Apparently, that has been another frequently drilled mantra this week in practice.

* From the early portions of practice, it appears junior Logan Clair will get the nod at right guard this weekend and he will be backed up by Michael Brown. On the left side, Alex Washington and Patrick Junen have been alternating with the ones at guard. No word on how that may play out yet. Tank has started the first three games, while Junen is a true freshman who has been making solid improvements the past couple of weeks in practice and is currently on the FG/PAT unit.


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