What more could the Rebels want for their first of three practices during their open week?
All hands on deck would have been nice, but, alas, that was not to be as the Ole Miss trainers and doctors held out or limited double-digit players in Tuesday's workout due to injury.
"With all those guys out, it gives us an opportunity to work some of the backups," said Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix, filling in for Houston Nutt who flew to Hattiesburg immediately after practice for a speaking engagement.
"We are grateful for the open week. It will give some of our guys time to heal and allow us to get more reps with some guys who need the extra work.
"Our number one objective is to get our guys back healthy, but while we wait, we will work fundamentals with our younger guys. It's also an opportunity for some of our guys to get caught up academically if they are a little behind."
Nix was asked his thoughts on the defensive line through five games thus far.
"I have seen a lot of improvement with our inside two guys. Ted Laurent is playing as consistently and as well as I have ever seen him play. he's making more plays than he's made in the run and in showing up in the passing game," Tyrone elaborated. "Jerrell Powe is becoming more consistent as well. That is what we expect of those two guys.
"At defensive end, we are still learning. Gerald Rivers is giving us flashes, but we need more consistency. He's improving and as long as he will take that attitude, we'll be OK. On the other side, we are still searching for that guy and are using this week to move some guys around to find the right front four. Wayne Dorsey could end up there again, but it's kind of wide open for this week. We are looking at Cameron Whigham, Jason Jones and we might end up with Delvin Jones or Carlos Thompson on that side. We are just looking for guys who can make a play, especially in passing situations. Who is the guy who gives us the best chance to get pressure on the QB?"
Nix believes Thompson, who has had a groin injury, may be on his way back to good health.
"He looked pretty good today, but we will keep evaluating and see where he is as the end of the week before making a decision," he noted.
QB Jeremiah Masoli was very pleased to have a game with no turnovers against Kentucky.
"We're making progress. We still have things to work on, but I feel I'm making better decisions thanks to Coach (David) Rader," said Masoli.
"It's huge to take care of the ball. Whenever you have a turnover, you put yourself in position to lose the game. When you win the turnover battle, there is a high probability of winning the game. That will be key going into the Alabama game."
Masoli has taken a look at Alabama's defense.
"They are a great team. I watched the Florida game closely. Alabama is stingy, but I thought Florida could have done some better things in the Red Zone," he stated. "When you are in the Red Zone, you have to capitalize.
"Alabama is real big and fast. They are also physical. Right now, they are the best."
Masoli expects the Tide to try to take away the Reb run game, something the Rebs have done well, especially the last two games, and try to force Ole Miss to pass.
"We think our passing game is ready to explode. The past couple of games the run game has been working so well, we just jumped on our offensive line's back and rode them to victory. There was no need to pass," Jeremiah stated. "We have been working hard on our passing game in practice and will continue to. We believe we will be ready when it's needed more."
* Uncharacteristically, the Rebels had some special teams issues in last Saturday's game against Kentucky. Special Teams Coordinator James Shibest was aware, a little perplexed and partially understanding of the problems. "On punts, we got some poor snaps, then our punter (Tyler Campbell) tried to rush things and got out of rhythm, hitting some low punts, and then, on top of all of that, we missed about 10 tackles. Our top gunner, Lionel Breaux, was hobbled some with a knee bruise and wasn't on his game," explained Shibest. "It kind of snowballed on us, but we'll get that straight. We are usually good on that unit. We gave up 85 yards in punt returns against Kentucky, more than we have given up in a single game since we have been here.". . . As if that wasn't enough, the kickoff coverage team was missing five stalwarts - Johnny Brown, Marcus Temple, Charles Sawyer, Lionel Breaux and Jeremy McGee - to injury. "We gave up too much yardage there as well," Shibest said. "We need to get our main guys back or do a better job with the ones filling in. We had half our main lineup for the kickoff team on the sidelines, but we still have to get the job done."
* The secondary has taken the biggest hit in the injury department. With S Brishen Mathews (concussion), S Johnny Brown (bruised knee/hamstring), CB Marcus Temple (concussion), and CB Charles Sawyer (concussion) out, that left those ranks extremely thin. The hope is that all four will be back with a few more days rest, but that is still undetermined at this point. Word is J.B. could come back to practice by Sunday if he continues progressing. . . In their absence, today's safeties were down to Damien Jackson, Fon Ingram, Dele Junaid and Kyle Horine while the corners were limited to Jeremy McGee, also coming off a concussion from the Fresno State game, Frank Crawford, who also plays safety, Tony Grimes and Julian Whitehead.
* In other injury news/notes: Center A.J. Hawkins (shoulder stinger) will be out a few days, minimum. Now word on when he will return. In his place, freshman Evan Swindall and RS frosh Chris Gill are handling the snapping duties. . . RT Bobby Massie (ankle) was dressed out Tuesday but was limited. Taking his place with the first unit was true freshman Jared Duke. . . Breaux also sat out Tuesday but is expected back by Sunday. . . PK Bryson Rose (hamstring) tweaked his hammy last week in practice but was able to kick in the Kentucky game. he is sitting out a few days as a precaution. . . TB Enrique Davis, who had his lateral and medial meniscus ligaments repaired a week ago, is shooting to return next week, but that may be pushing it a little. . . WR Korvic Neat dressed for practice Tuesday and did limited work, well on his way to recovery from a hamstring pull. . . Freshman DE Carlos Thompson (groin) also tried to do a little bit at practice to see how he will respond. We'll keep you posted on his progress daily.
* In Tuesday's practice, junior DE Wayne Dorsey was running with the second team DL behind Jason Jones. Cameron Whigham is also getting a look there. The Rebel staff is still confident Dorsey can turn things around, but his slow start has prompted a change, for now, if anyone else will step up and take the bit.