'Better, But Inconsistent'

The prevailing thought from Saturday's scrimmage - the 10th practice of spring training - was "better, but still inconsistent." Read the scrimmage story inside with a stat story, photo gallery and more on the way.

The Rebels held a 2-hour, 100-plus-play scrimmage Saturday flanking the noon hour in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium under warm, but breezy conditions.

Coach Houston Nutt, unlike the "horrible" practice the Rebs turned in Friday, saw some good things, but with a caveat.

"We have a long way to go," said Nutt. "We have to keep getting better. We have to tackle better and execute better.

"There were times we looked like a good team, but we are far from a four-quarter group. We have a long way to go on that. We have to be more consistent."

In the last scrimmage a week ago, pass protection and drops by the receivers stood out. Nutt saw improvement in both those areas this time around.

"We still had some key drops by our receivers, but they did catch the ball better than last week. Our pass pro was a little bit better. We still gave up a couple of sacks, but it was better," he explained. "We didn't have any CQ (center-quarterback exchange) fumbles, which was good.

Defensively, Nutt saw the effect of having several potential starters out with injury.

Ja-Mes Logan
Chuck Rounsaville
"We were a little softer today in certain situations, it looked like. I want to watch the film, but some holes that had been closing fast were bigger today," he commented. "We've got a week to make some corrections and get better before the spring game.

"We're probably a little behind where I thought we would be at this time. We have seen some good things, but as I said we have a long way to go."

One area Houston was excited about was the run game, especially with the ball in the hands of Enrique Davis and Devin Thomas.

"They were both outstanding," said Nutt. "They ran hard, ran with their eyes and were very physical. Devin is going to have a role, I just told him that out here today.

"He's yes, sir - no, sir all the time, he's a 4.0 student, he never says one thing except 'how can I help the team?' What an attitude and what an example. He is going to have a role. He's quicker than you think, he has a good first move, he knows all the protections, he can catch the ball - he is going to help us."

Random Notes:

* We will have a stat story, coordinator stories, photo gallery and more today and tomorrow. Stay tuned.

* The walking wounded who did not participate were: Kentrell Lockett (knee), Marcus Temple (hernia rehab), Josh Tatum (Concussion), Gerald Rivers (knee), Carlton Martin (concussion), Wayne Dorsey (concussion), Damien Jackson (shoulder), Kyle Horine (foot), Joel Kight (knee), Derrick Herman (hamstring).

* Three players were injured in the scrimmage, but Nutt did not think they were significant injuries. TB Brandon Bolden (ankle), TB Jeff Scott (shoulder) and OLB D.T. Shackelford (ankle). D.T. continued to play after he came up hobbling. We'll post you on those injuries as the severity is revealed (probably Monday).

Brandon Bolden
Chuck Rounsaville
* Lockett is still on crutches, but it has nothing to do with his ACL injury from last season. That was his left knee and rehab on that knee is almost complete. He's on crutches because his right knee needed "very minor cleaning up." He should be off the crutches soon and headed toward full recovery before August practice.

* The stat story will highlight all the big plays of the day, but one player who is starting to stand out more and more is OLB Clarence Jackson, who is filling in for Kight. For the second day in a row, "Jack" picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown and that's the third time this spring he has done that. Jackson was a highly-productive RB in high school and it shows with the ball in his hands.

* As Nutt said, Devin Thomas is a kid you just pull for. He's always been a good, solid back his whoe career at Ole Miss, there just didn't seem to be enough balls to go around. But every time he's given the opportunity, he finds a way to produce and the coaches are seeing him become a bigger part of the offense. For Thomas, he's just grateful for the chance. "I had a pretty OK day today, but it was all about the guys up front, teh fullbacks and the receivers," he said modestly. "If you have a hole, which I did, all I had to do was make the safety miss. I had great blocking. It makes me feel good to know the coaches are trusting me more and it makes me want to take advantage of every opportunity I get. I have to make the most of my reps. I think today I did that."

* From the untrained eye, the receiver who seemed to be the most consistent and made the most plays on the day was Ja-Mes Logan. We can't recall him having a drop and he made two or three extremely good catches on balls that were out of a receiver's comfort zone. Vincent Sanders also seemed more consistent and had one nice catch in a crowd where he broke two tackles to score.

* Nutt said it best, but to emphasize, TB Enrique Davis was a man possessed in the scrimmage. On several occasions, Davis ran over defenders and kept trucking. He had two long TD runs where he used brute strength and straight-ahead speed and on both runs he was mobbed at the end by teammates who realized they had just witnessed two special runs.

* Perhaps the surprises of the week were the two redshirt freshmen defensive tackles, Bryon Bennett and Carlton martin, prior to his concussion, moving up the depth chart to the first team. Both are still developing physically, but they both have excellent movement and explosiveness and that's what, for the time being, has put them ahead of the pack. They are very active players. In a need position that was decimated by graduation, their progress is a welcomed sight.

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