Rebel Coach Houston Nutt felt the Rebels needed some privacy for Thursday's "mental day," so he closed practice completely to the media.
After the session, however, he revealed his thoughts on the workout.
"I was really proud today of the focus the players had. We had a good special teams day and the offense and defense were tuned in," said Nutt. "I want to be better in every area and to do that we need to be sharper mentally.
"We had a chance to win the games we lost this year but we had too many missed opportunities, too many turnovers, too many missed tackles, too many missed alignments. We can't do that. Come on, let's play the game the way we know we can play it."
Nutt expanded on those thoughts.
"We've always been known as a team that plays extremely hard. Everybody has to have their best effort. Everybody has a job to do - do it," he continued. "Don't be afraid to make a mistake. We have some young guys who seem to be apprehensive and afraid to make a mistake. While we want to limit mistakes, on one hand, we want to turn it loose on the other. Turn it loose."
Houston believes what sometimes looks like sluggishness is actually being tentative.
"I've been hearing a lot that we are just not playing hard. I don't believe that. I believe there's too much thinking going on and it's affected our ability to play fast," he noted. "We have simplified things because we are young in some areas. With that, we want them to go fast.
"Play fast. Get after it. Go for it. I think some of the mistakes we have made have caused some of our guys to think about those things instead of playing fast. I want them to put that behind them and go. Hopefully, we have learned from how we have played and will respond better."
LB D.T. Shackelford injured his ankle in Tuesday's practice and missed Wednesday's, but he was back in action Thursday.
"He looked real good today," said Nutt. "The only guys out are Korvic Neat and Josh Tatum."
Nutt indicated in Monday's press conference that there would be some personnel movement on the offensive line. Obviously, that wasn't lip service.
"Patrick Junen will start at left guard and Logan Clair will start at right guard. That's our fourth different starting lineup in four games, which tells you something, but I feel pretty good about this lineup," Nutt closed. "We knew coming in we would have to feel our way some on the OL, but I like their fight.
"If they'll keep fighting and the skill guys will help them out a little bit by taking care of the ball, we will be OK, I think."
Junen will be starting in front of Alex Washington, who started the first three games. Clair came in for Michael Brown in the second quarter of the Vanderbilt game. Brown had started for the injured Josh Tatum, who was inserted in the lineup when Rishaw Johnson was dismissed from the squad. Four different starting right guards in four games.
Note: With a closed practice environment, there were no random notes opportunities.
Thursday Practice Report
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