Padding Up

The first day of pads for the Ole Miss Rebels went as expected - the monkey jumped on their backs with about 30 minutes to go in the practice session and it was a grind to the finish line.

The first week of August practice is all about adjusting.

The first two days is adjusting to having their bodies in proper football positions again.

The next two days - when shoulder pads are introduced to practices - are adjusting to contact.

Then, it's "real football," with full pads and adjusting to the weight of the entire uniform.

Wednesday was the first day of full pads.

"We have to get a little bit tougher. The pads were a little extra weight on them today," Coach Houston Nutt noted. "We got a little tired towards the end. It was like they had something jump on their back, but they tried to fight through it. You expect that the first day of pads.

"Overall, the first few days have been good. We've done a lot of installing and the guys have learned a lot. I've been proud of them. We expected what happened at the end of today. Your body just has to adjust and we have to fight through things while it's adjusting."

Cody Prewitt
File Photo
Nutt continues - on a daily basis - to praise the younger players with each step they take.

"C.J. Johnson, Keith Lewis, Serderius Bryant, Senquez Golson, Cody Prewitt - what an athlete, he can really run - and Chief Brown on defense are standing out for freshmen. We all just need to come back out here tomorrow and do it again, and do it a little faster," Nutt explained.

"On offense, Nick Brassell had an excellent day and gave us a shot in the arm. He picked us up. He loves to compete and he turns it up. All those young guys like to compete. They've been winners their whole lives and that means something. They are used to it. They want to win and know how to win and it shows. Jamal Mosley also picked us up and Tobias Singleton was consistent."

Middle Linebacker Mike Marry tweaked his hamstring - it's said to be minor, so he sat out some of the team drills, opening the door for Ralph Williams to play with the number one defense.

"Ever since D.T. (Shackelford) went down, Ralph has picked it up. He's been very consistent and is physical and hard-nosed," said Nutt. "He's stepped up his game and I love his habits right now. Ralph works hard and wants to be good."

In team drills, the Rebs ran a lot of "speed ball" (hurry-up) offense.

"It was a little rusty. We have to get quicker with it and communicate it better. It was a little slow," Nutt noted. "That's when it seemed like we were getting heavy legs."

After having a good day Tuesday, the quarterbacks didn't turn Nutt's head on Wednesday.

Ralph Williams
File Photo
"Nobody really jumped out at me today. We had too many balls batted down at the line of scrimmage today for my taste," he said. "Maybe that's a good sign for the defensive line. Maybe the OL isn't good enough right now or maybe the QBs aren't getting the ball up high enough. We'll look at the film and try to figure all that out tonight."

Random Notes:

* DE Kentrell Lockett (tendonitis) returned to practice Wednesday after sitting out one day. . . FB H.R. Greer (ankle) remained sidelined and in a boot. . . FB E.J. Epperson (slight concussion) sat out again today but has his sites set on returning for Saturday's scrimmage. . . LT Josh Tatum sustained a concussion yesterday and is currently out.

* Senior Justin Smith and junior Uriah Grant - for the second day in a row - were the number on defensive tackles. Smith is backed up by Carlton Martin and Grant is currently being backed up by Gilbert Pena.

* Redshirt freshman WR Vincent Sanders took number one reps today in place of Melvin Harris at the X position. Melvin has been running with the number one offense. Vincent caught a long pass from Zack Stoudt in pass skelly on a skinny post pattern.

* Another change on the number one defense, today, was Jason Jones moving ahead of Wayne Dorsey at one DE slot. . . The number two defense, today, was DEs Dorsey and Gerald Rivers, DTs Pena and Martin, OLBs Ivan Nicholas and Rudy Wilson, MLB C.J. Johnson, Safeties Aaron Garbutt and Cody Prewitt and CBs Wesley Pendleton and Senquez Golson.

* Wednesday was the first time we have seen C.J. Johnson at middle linebacker. He's been playing behind Joel Kight on the outside until then. Is that his natural position? Time will tell.

* Safety Frank Crawford had an interception in the first team drills in pads. He jumped a crossing route and stepped in front of a Barry Brunetti pass.

* In pass skelly and in team, Nick Brassell caught several balls of all varieties - short, intermediate and long, including a 33-yard TD from Stoudt - and gave the offense a needed spark. Brassell, it's easy to see, is a pacesetter in practice, as Nutt said.

* If the Rebels played tomorrow, it looks as if Charles Sawyer and Marcus Temple would be the starting corners.

* Secondary Coach Keith Burns is excited about the competition he is seeing at his positions. "We have a standard we want them to live up in regard to competing and they are doing that. We compete in everything we do - from getting a drink of water throughout practice. It's good to see them responding to the challenge," said Burns. "We have more people out here now who are pushing for playing time than we did in spring, with Marcus Temple now back and a couple of good freshmen in the fold. We just have to continue to get better each day. Senquez Golson is tough, eager and he wants to learn. He is very coachable and talented. He's a little raw, but he competes and he has the talent to be something special."

* TB Brandon Bolden felt the effect of full pads, but he said everyone has to fight through the fatigue factor. "You expect not to be as fresh when it goes full tilt, but you have to push through it," he said. "It's a man's game and we have to keep getting after it until that extra weight becomes natural. We'll be fine in a day or two. We'll be adjusted."

* The Rebels will hold their first scrimmage Saturday at 6 p.m. in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. It is open to the public. Practice Thursday and Friday, also open to the public, will be at the normal time - 4:30 p.m.

OM Spirit Top Stories