Tuesday Practice Report

There will be one major question asked over and over this week - will Ole Miss QB Jeremiah Masoli play against Tennessee this week? Read about it inside.

As you are aware, Ole Miss Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli suffered what was considered a "mild concussion" against Louisiana last Saturday.

As a result, he sat out the second half of a 43-21 Rebel win.

Now the pertinent and oft-asked question looms - will he play against Tennessee Saturday?

For those sitting on the edge of their seat, Jeremiah dressed out today for practice, but he has not been cleared for contact yet.

One would think that's a good sign for the Rebels, but concussions are tricky deals. Masoli will be put through daily tests to check for dizziness, headaches, nausea and other signs when winded or exerting himself.

Football Trainer Tim Mullins gave an official statement on the matter.

"We are evaluating him daily. Every day is a new day with concussions," said Mullins. "We are making sure as we go forward. He dressed out and practiced a little today, but with no contact.

Jeremiah Masoli

"With concussions, you ahve to stay on them and monitor everything. We follow a step-by-step plan each day and look for any signs. It's a serious thing and something we do not take lightly."

Mullins said the final decision could come as late as Saturday morning, but it will all be based on symptoms Jeremiah is or isn't showing.

"There are specific signs and symptoms we look for - headaches, nausea, being irritable, sensitivity to light, dizziness, not sleeping a normal amount, balance tests and see how he responds to physical exertion tests," Mullins noted. "We aren't going to comment on his status with symptoms at this time. All we are saying is that he is not cleared to go right now and it's still a process.

"Everybody responds differently. Jeremiah has responded well, but we've had guys in the past who have responded well and then lapsed or had a setback. It's just too early to say because you worry about the setbacks."

Coach Houston Nutt also had some comments on Jeremiah's situation.

"We are trying to cover all our bases, working with two plans, like the other night when Nathan (Stanley) came in," said Nutt. "He's more like Jevan (Snead) which dictates more under center, more play action, more dropback passing game - those kinds of things. It's a different pace, but we are trying to incorporate some things for the offensive line no matter who is at quarterback.

"The thing about concussions is that they are treated a lot differently than even five years ago. We'll just have to see how things go. You can tell he took a pretty good hit. He had some headaches on Sunday and was throwing up as well a little. He wants to be out here, but we have to go by what the doctors say. They are not going to put the stamp of approval on him until he's 100%."

Can the Rebel OL stand up in that type of offense where longer protection times might be required?

Jeremiah Masoli

"They did a lot better against Louisiana, but we'll be going against better athletes Saturday. Either way, we've got to get it done," he said. "We're doing the best we can with the knowledge we have at this time."

Based on what little of the practice was open to the media, Nathan Stanley took most of the contact snaps and Masoli took non-contact snaps.

Both offensive styles - dropback, pro-style with Stanley and read option, spread with Masoli - were repped in practice Tuesday.

Nutt said the Rebels will go with basically the same lineup they had last Saturday on defense, with D.T. Shackelford and Jason Jones at DE.

"We're working with that lineup and working on a couple of new twists. We want them to be playing fast and to be disruptive, but they have to know what they are doing," he stated.

Random Notes:

* Jeremiah is not the only one the coaches are concerned with injury-wise. Senior MLB Jonathan Cornell (hip), TB Jeff Scott (calf), DE Gerald Rivers (ankle) and Center A.J. Hawkins (ankle) are on the injury watch list. Cornell was dressed out Tuesday and appeared to be close to full speed, if not 100%. . . Ditto on Scott. . . Rivers was dressed out and trying to practice, but he still seemed a bit hobbled. . . A.J. appeared to be practicing full speed and was working with the first OL unit.

* It appears the Rebel OL is going to remain the same for the third game in a row - a record this year. LT Bradley Sowell, LG Alex Washington, Center A.J. Hawkins, RG Jared Duke and SEC OL of the Week Bobby Massie at RT. Patrick Junen, the freshman who had replaced Washington before turning his ankle, still seems to be favoring that foot and has not been able to break back into the starting lineup yet.

* With some moderate success with the lineup the defense employed against Louisiana, it looks as if DC Tyrone Nix will stay with his starting front four of DEs D.T. Shackelford and Jason Jones and DTs Ted Laurent, who delivered a highlight hit last weekend, and Jerrell Powe.

* Freshman Safety Brishen Mathews was held out of practice Tuesday due to sickness. He is expected back this week.

* Tailback Brandon Bolden pulled no punches when discussing the Louisiana game. Even though he rushed for 136 yards and had 80 yards receiving, scoring three times in all, he feels the Rebels can, and will have to, play better to defeat UT. "We have to execute better," he said. "We were not very good in the Red Zone and that has to improve. When you get the ball down there in tight, you have to find ways to score and that means you have to be precise in your execution where everyone is in tight confines. Execution shows up more in the Red Zone than anywhere on the field and we were not productive against Louisiana when things were congested." Bolden is sixth in the SEC in rushing with 727 yards on 121 carries, a 6.0 yards per carry average.

* The Red Zone woes concerned Nutt as well. "One, you can't have turnovers down there like we did last Saturday and two, you can't miss blocks and assignments. It's critical down there," Nutt noted. "We have to make sure we have our assignments down and execute. We'll work hard on that this week."

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