Words Into Action

Requested players rarely, if ever, receive step-to-the-podium treatment at an Ole Miss media gathering. But senior defensive tackle Jerrell Powe did Monday. And he commanded the room.

He leaned against the podium, his gigantic arms acting as prop-ups. He was asked of Alabama, the former top-ranked team, and Ole Miss' upcoming opponent, fresh off its first loss of the season. The Crimson Tide fell to South Carolina, 35-21, over the weekend.

"I think they got exposed," Powe said. "It showed they're a one-dimensional team."

Head coach Houston Nutt was made aware of the comments, and discussed them Tuesday following a full-pad practice inside the team's indoor practice facility.

"You better back that up," Nutt said.

Nutt pointed to a talented Alabama offense, one featuring the menacing combination of running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Nutt expects the Crimson Tide to run right at a middling Ole Miss defense ranking 10th in the conference in total defense and last in scoring defense.

"(Powe) better be in them trenches, because they'll be coming right at him," Nutt said. "Gotta be smart. It starts with him.

Jerrell Powe

"They've got one of the best offensive lines in the country. They execute. They've got a real leader and a Heisman Trophy guy (in running back Mark Ingram). And they've got another guy (Richardson) that probably could be a Heisman Trophy guy. And they've got a real receiver (Julio Jones), who will play.

"They've got real weapons."

Crowd noise and music were blared over the loud speakers during a two-hour practice. Ole Miss ran through drills to the sounds "Rammer Jammer" and "Sweet Home Alabama." As Nutt would admit, Bryant-Denny Stadium can be deafening.

But though the opponent is the toughest Ole Miss has faced this season, Tuesday's practice didn't stray far from the norm. Nutt was, again, thankful for the IPF, but more so for the effort his players gave as a mini-storm raged outside.

"Good practice day today," he said. "Good learning day. Moving around. We've just got to keep getting better, keep working on one of the best teams in the country."

The Rebels received some good news, as senior strong safety Johnny Brown returned to practice. All three players who suffered concussions against Kentucky – Charles Sawyer, Marcus Temple and Brishen Mathews – were full participants, as well.

"Johnny Brown was back today. That was good news. All the corners are back, the ones that had concussions. That was good," Nutt said.

Disappointing, however, was the absence of center A.J. Hawkins, who appears doubtful for Alabama. In his place is redshirt freshman Evan Swindall. In a pinch, junior left tackle Bradley Sowell or another freshman, Chris Gill, would get the call.

"Don't look good, guys. Don't look good," Nutt said of Hawkins' availability for Alabama. "That's a monster. I hate that. That's five good weeks of training he's had. Evan Swindall, welcome to the big time."

Nutt has been pleased with Swindall's effort in practice, but he isn't sure of what he has in the true freshman.

"I don't know that much about (his game)," he said. "The only thing I've seen is what he's done in practice. I like the way he listens, I like the way he competes. I know he'll compete. Glad we got him."

Should Sowell move to center, redshirt freshman Emmanuel McCray would move to left tackle.

"Working that puzzle, baby," Nutt said.

Armour to start?

Senior LaMark Armour is a sixth-year senior. But when asked, he feels even older.

His Ole Miss career got off to a disappointing start, admitting how the previous coaching staff headed by Ed Orgeron made life difficult for him. Armour originally signed in 2005, appearing in two games in his true freshman season.

However, he fell victim to multiple injuries that sidelined him for the better part of two years.

He finally made his impact in 2009. Armour played in all 13 games over the second of back-to-back nine-win seasons, totaling 16 tackles, after once being buried at the bottom of the team's depth chart.

LaMark Armour

"It's been a long journey, man. Like I've been here for 10 years," Armour said.

But the wait, it seems, will soon be worth it. Armour, having primarily played defensive tackle, could be in line for the first start of his career against Alabama, though at defensive end in place of former starter Wayne Dorsey.

"I'm not going to lie, it feels pretty good," he said. "Coming in my freshman year under the old staff, it was difficult. It feels like I'm in college playing ball now. I'm loving playing under these coaches. It's great."

Armour's value is undeniable. Ole Miss constantly rotates players along the defensive line. Armour is a capable, experienced veteran, even if his numbers don't jump off the page.

"A little bit more beef," Nutt said of what Armour brings to defensive end. "We're a little bit young, a little bit thin on that edge. Wayne (Dorsey) is still working hard, Cameron's still working hard. LaMark looks good there."

Armour will still rotate between tackle and end. Defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix said as much Tuesday. He may not even start, according to Nix. It all depends on what package Ole Miss opts to open with when the Rebels finally kickoff against Alabama at 8 p.m.

"He adds some size, he adds some maturity and a more physical presence," Nix said of Armour. "We haven't decided. It depends on what package we start the game in. If we start in Nickel, we'll go with D.T. Shackelford. It all depends on what package we start in."

Whether he starts or not, Armour is simply thankful for the opportunity. Defensive end isn't new to him, having played the position in the early years of his career.

"It's going pretty good. I'll do whatever to help the team out," he said. "I'm pretty used to that spot. It's just difficult, from playing tackle to end, the different plays. I've been getting into my playbook. It's going pretty good, man."

He's even approached Kentrell Lockett, out for the season with a knee injury, for advice.

"Just telling me what it feels like to be back out there (at defensive end), because I played there my freshmen and sophomore years," Armour said. "It feels pretty good. It doesn't really matter. D-line is d-line. He was giving me some pass-rushing moves, because going from tackle to end is different; it's faster. Outside, there's more steps."

Armour expects Alabama to pull out all punches Saturday, including a heavy dose of Ingram and Richardson.

"It's the SEC. Everybody's going to try and run at us. Everybody likes to run the ball, so we're trying to prepare ourselves for them," he said. "They're coming in off a loss, but they're going to come their hardest at us, so just preparing ourselves for whatever."

OM Spirit Top Stories