It's hard to watch a game or scrimmage and shoot pictures at the same time, but some things stood out in Saturday's scrimmage, the first of the 2011 season.
* We get asked all the time which coaches will be in the press box and which will be on the sidelines during games. If Saturday was a true indication, Offensive Coordinator David Lee and Safeties Coach Chris Vaughn will be the fulltime assistants in the press box during games this fall. The rest will be on the sidelines.
* Jason Jones started out the day as the number one defensive end on the strong side opposite of Kentrell Lockett. Jones sprained a knee about midway through the workout and was replaced by Wayne Dorsey, who proceded to make some nice plays in pass rush. Even though he was facing the number two offensive line, DE Carlos Thompson had a couple of sacks and disrupted things from the edge several times. He's quick off the ball.
* We don't know much about TB Zarold Wilder, but we know the walk-on newcomer is a hard worker and a hard runner with some moves. The coaches must see something in him because he is still getting some quality reps and usually someone who is definitely out of the playing time picture would not be getting the work he is getting right now.
* It makes a difference when H.R. Greer is in the lineup. He and E.J. Epperson have been out for a few days, but H.R. returned for the scrimmage and showed why he is number one. Physical kid.
* We heard more leather popping in that one scrimmage than we did most of last year. Well, that may be an exaggeration, but the point is this is a more physical team than a year ago, on both sides of the ball. We have kids who will strike you and that's a start on any SEC team.
Houston Nutt said that was one of the main goals for spring and summer and from the looks of the scrimmage Saturday, that facet of the game has picked up.
"We're a lot more physical this year than we were last year," said TB Brandon Bolden, who got very little action in the scrimmage due to a coaching decision. "We set out to be more physical and I can see that happening." As most Rebel fans know, Ole Miss was not a very physical team in 2010. That demeanor seems to be resurfacing this time around - keep your fingers crossed.
* Freshman OL Aaron Morris improves every day. Everyone already knew he was big, strong and had good feet, but what wasn't clear, but is clearing up quickly, are the intangibles. He's smart, he learns quickly, he goes to the whistle and he's got a nasty disposition on the field.
* Freshman LB Keith Lewis is giving Joel Kight a run for his money for the starting OLB slot. Like Morris, Lewis is bright and catches on quickly and he's active. He also has good physical skills in terms of speed and range.
* The scrimmage was set up a little differently than most scrimmages. All three fo the top quarterbacks got equal opportunities with the number one offensive line. In order to do that, the one OL had to take more reps than normal. It appeared to wear on them about three-fourths of the way through the scrimmage and their effectiveness, especially in pass protection, dropped off.
* Before his ankle injury, which is said to be minor, Nickolas Brassell was working on both sides of the ball. On one pitch sweep, Snoop got lit up at the line of scrimmage by S Damien Jackson, but he popped up as if it didn't bother him in the least.
* The Rebs ran several series of "speed ball," their terminology for the hurry-up offense, and it was fairly effective, but it was also another contributing factor of the OL fatigue. It's good to see the coaches installing that attack in their arsenal. Of the three QBs, Randall Mackey seemed the most effetive in running the speed ball.
* The coaches were obviously serious about trying to sort things out among the quarterbacks. Everything was live in the scrimmage and all three quarterbacks took some heavy hits. A necessary evil.
* Considering the physical nature of the scrimmage, the Rebs escaped with no serious injuries. Brassell (ankle - said to minor), Jones (sprained knee - said to be minor), TE Alex Williams (sprained knee - said to be minor) and DT Gilbert Pena (frantured hand - surgery Sunday and expected back at prctice later next week.) MLB Mike Marry is still out with a hamstring problem, FB E.J. Epperson is still out with a concussion and DT Uriah Grant is strugglign a bit with a pulled groin but is trying to play through it.
* DTs Byron Bennett and Carlton Martin have dropped a little on the depth chart since fall camp began, but in the scrimmage they both made a couple of nice plays each in the backfield. Playing time is a great motivator.
* Most improved aspect of the team to this point? For our money, it's the secondary. Kudos to Keith Burns and his troops. While they are not where they need to be yet, they are getting there step by step, day by day. From untrained eyes, they were a part of the team that shined Saturday.