Call it what you want.
Redemption for past games. Opportunity. Finding out what you're made of.
Whatever you prefer to tag Saturday's match between Ole Miss and Auburn, know this, for a competitor looking to make something good happen, it gets no better than this.
"While this is a great challenge, it's also a great opportunity," said MLB/DE D.T. Shackelford. "We've got character on this team and we intend to show it by putting it all on the line Saturday. We can't wait."
The house will be packed and jamming and the chance to get back a little lost stature in the world of college football will be there for the Rebels.
"We have our work cut out for us, but games like these are why you choose to coach in this league and play in this league," said Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt. "This is best against best, what you wait for all year. This place will be full and rocking. It will be a lot of fun. There's nothing like this kind of opportunity."
They began their journey to Saturday in earnest at Tuesday's practice with a full pad workout in the stadium due to wet conditions on the practice fields from recent rains.
"We had a really good practice. The guys have excellent attitudes. We went good-against-good a lot to get the speed of the game. I think that is important when you are getting ready for the number one team in the nation," Nutt stated.
Auburn QB Cameron Newton gets a lot of the ink when it comes to the Tigers, but the Rebels are very concerned about UA DT Nick Fairley, who is second in the SEC in QB sacks and first in tackles for loss.
"Every so often, we will have to double him, but we'll have to pick and choose our spots because when you do that, you free someone else up," Houston said. "He's so quick. He's a 300-pounder with wide receiver ankles - he can run. Auburn will even drop him sometimes in passing lanes and you don't see that often with DTs. He's tough, quick and exceptional. He makes so many plays."
Nutt said he did not think Auburn would be number one this season because of the unknown of Newton.
"I knew they would be an improved team, but I don't think anyone knew the impact of Cam Newton. He's different now than the first three or four games," he closed. "I don't think even the Auburn coaches knew, really, and they are now using him differently than the first three or four games. They put the ball in his hands and everything runs through him. They use him a lot more than they did earlier in the year, especially running the ball."
Newton gained over 200 yards on the ground against LSU last weekend. That was undefeated LSU with a defense that was nationally ranked.
* Junior Tailback Enrique Davis returned to practice last week prior to the Arkansas game and it was indicated he would play against the Hogs. It turns out, he did not travel with the team so his return to game action was delayed for a week. He was dressed out and practicing Tuesday. Is that an indication he is ready to go? That was the thought process from the coaches at the workout.
* Freshman TB Jeff Scott is confident the Rebs can shine against Auburn. "If we play hard and execute, we have a chance," Scott said. "The coaches are doing what they are supposed to be doing and putting us in position to make plays. It's up to us to get it done. We have to perform." Scott said the Rebels are tired of beating themselves. "We had a team meeting Sunday morning and Jeremiah (Masoli) and Jerrell (Powe) expressed it best. Enough is enough. We aren't playing to our potential and it's time to do that. We plan on putting things together this week," he closed. "I know I can do better and to the man everyone on this team feels they can do better. That's what it will take."
* Safety Damien Jackson left the game against Arkansas in the first half with a knee contusion (bruise). He did not return to action Saturday. Tuesday, he was not dressed out for practice and his knee was taped. The hope is that he will return to practice in a day or two and be ready for the game against Auburn. We will keep you posted. "We need him, that's for sure," said Nutt.
* Left Guard Patrick Junen turned his ankle against the Hogs, but returned later in the game. He was available for practice Tuesday.
* In Tuesday's practice, it appears the Rebs are looking at several possibilities on the OL for Saturday's game. OL Coach Mike Markuson is working with the usual suspects - Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie - at the tackles, but inside, there are still some options to explore. Will A.J. Hawkins move back to center and give frosh Jared Duke a shot at right guard? Will Evan Swindall stay at center and give Hawkins the nod again at right guard? Or will Markuson opt to go with three true frosh - LG Patrick Junen, C Swindall, RG Duke? He worked with all those combinations Tuesday. We'll see. "I am not sure what we will do yet. We have an idea, but we aren't ready to say just yet," Nutt commented.
* TE Ferbia Allen missed practice Tuesday due to sickness. He is expected back in a day or two. In his absence, senior Reggie Hicks worked with the first team offense at TE.
* A couple of weeks ago, backup DT LaMark Armour was moved to defensive end. He remains there after two games at his new position. Junior Justin Smith has moved up in the rotation at DT to take LaMark's spot.
* For fan notes on the game, see the post pinned at the top of our premium message board. Some useful info in there.
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