Thursday Practice Report

The Rebels concluded full speed workouts/preparations for Saturday's contest with Arkansas with an "excellent" Thursday practice. Read about it inside.

"We had an excellent day today," said Coach Houston Nutt as his team wrapped up full-speed preparations for Arkansas on another sun-kissed day in Oxford Thursday. "Our focus and intensity was where we wanted it to be - I liked the way we practiced."

The Rebel staff spent about the same amount of time on special teams the last two days, but the focus was on the areas that broke down against Alabama, namely punt and kickoff coverage.

"We put a little more emphasis on the areas where we broke down and made some mistakes. We needed to shore up some things and we concentrated on those areas heavily," Nutt noted.

There's a threat of rain in the forecast for Saturday in Fayetteville, but Nutt said that would not change what the Rebels want to do.

Houston Nutt

"We won't change much. We'll gauge how much wind, rain, etc, but right now our plan is to stick with our gameplan rain or shine," Houston said.

What are Nutt's keys to Rebel victory? Very simple.

"Ryan Mallett is going to make some plays. We know that. Tackle the receivers. We can't do what we did with Trent Richardson last week on the screen and let them go 85 yards. Get them on the ground," he began. "On offense, we have to catch the ball and make some plays. We have to stay on the field for long stretches in the game to keep their offense off the field, and finish drives.

"And, finally, but not least, we have to do a good job on special teams. Those are the keys to me."

This is the third time around for Nutt against his former school where he was the head coach for a decade. He said it's different this year than it was the last two years, particularly the first year, for him personally.

"I was born in that state, raised in that state, played in that state, coached as an assistant there and was head coach there," he began. "There's always something there - you can't help it. There are ties. But once the kickoff comes around, it's all out trying to win, period.

"The first year was very difficult, very hard. I didn't realize how tough that week leading up to that first time I coached against Arkansas would be, but it's a lot easier now. I haven't felt that kind of emotion since. I just don't feel that way now - I'm an Ole Miss Rebel."

Evan Swindall

The Rebs dotted the I's and crossed the T's today and will have a light walk-through workout tomorrow before heading to Fayetteville early Friday afternoon. They are staying in Rogers, AR.

A lot of questions will be answered Saturday.

Can the Rebels get pressure on Mallett? When they don't, can the secondary hang with their wideouts? Even though the Hogs are not expected to run a ton, will the Rebels be on their toes and ready for it?

Will the Rebs be able to run the ball and be more efficient in the passing game? Will the yet-again revamped offensive line hold up?

Will the kicking game breakdowns that hurt against Bama be shored up?

Those answers will determine the victor.

Random Note:

* The personnel changes that have been discussed all week in practice reports stand. Here's a brief rundown. On the OL, Evan Swindall will stay at center and A.J. Hawkins, back from a shoulder injury, will move to right guard to take over for injured Logan Clair. True frosh Patrick Junen will get his third start at left guard. Bobby Massie and Bradley Sowell, the constants up front all year, will man the tackle slots. . . . On defense, LaMark Armour remains at defensive end after starting there last week against Bama and after five games as a backup DT. Wayne Dorsey will back Armour up. Justin Smith will take his place in the DT rotation, as he did against Alabama. At the other end, Gerald Rivers will get the nod and Jason Jones, Carlos Thompson and Delvin Jones will get spot duty, same as the Bama game.


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