Several players missed the practice session due to some minor injuries, and one - CB Senquez Golson - missed as he journeys back to Oxford from Boston via the Gulf Coast, but most are expected back quickly.
"We put our guys in a lot of different situations today - two-minute, goalline out, Red Zone and so on, just trying to play the game in different situations. For the most part, they responded," said Coach Houston Nutt. "We have to continue to get better and we have a few guys that are gimped up we need to get back out here, especially on the defensive line. The bug has hit us there."
* Offensive Line Coach Mike Markuson has been praising the rapid development of freshman OL Aaron Morris, with an asterisk that deserves an explanation. Monday, Morris was running with the number one OL at left guard. Tuesday, he was back at right tackle behind Bobby Massie - Patrick Junen had returned to number one left guard - and Mike was saying "Aaron's got a lot to learn." What does that mean? Well, in a nutshell, it has nothing to do with physical ability - Morris has got plenty of that. It has little to do with alignment, assignment, stance or knowing his plays pre-snap. What it means is that Aaron has a lot to learn in terms of reacting on the fly, recognizing the different things defenses do after the snap. The maelstrom of bodies flying around him puts him in a "what if?" position that he has to adjust to and learn by experiencing it and learning it on the fly. "If this happens, you do this" can be taught, but until he sees it and reacts to it in a nano-second, he doesn't truly know it. And modern defenses do a lot of different things - twists, movements, shades, blitzes, stunts, etc. So when Markuson says "he's got a lot to learn," we have a better understanding what the true freshman is up against. Time will take care of it all. "Aaron is going to play," said Nutt. "We went back with Junen today, but we aren't down on Aaron. We are throwing at lot at him quickly and Patrick has been here a year and understands it a little better right now."
* DT Uriah Grant missed practice with a groin pull. He, too, is expected to come back shortly. With him gone, and Gilbert Pena out for a few days after surgery on a broken hand, Bryon Bennett is getting first-team reps next to senior DT Justin Smith, who keeps holding on to his number one spot. Bennett, who won a first-team position out of spring training but fell back early in August, had a very good scrimmage last Saturday, thus his promotion ahead of the other redshirt freshman DT Carlton Martin. With DL Coach Terry Price, however, number one status is definitely day-to-day and has shifted quite a bit since the start of August practice.
* DE Carlos Thompson injured his hip yesterday and is also sitting out a day or two. He did not practice Tuesday but is not expected to be out an extended period of time.
* DE Jason Jones injured his knee in Saturday's scrimmage, but is expected to be back at practice in a day or two. He did not practice Monday or Tuesday.
* TB Jeff Scott missed Monday's practice with an intestinal issue, but he was back in the fold Tuesday.
* The defensive coaches, as was mentioned yesterday, are experimenting with some personnel in an effort to get more speed and "the 11 best" on the field. It appears for now, and this could change tomorrow, Brishen Mathews is working some at safety instead of the hybrid outside linebacker he started at in early August and Damien Jackson and Aaron Garbutt have moved to the OLB slot Mathews was playing. They were both playing safety in Saturday's scrimmage a few days ago.
* The media can no longer watch entire practices, so it's hard to get much of a grip or update on the quarterback race other than what the coaches say after practice. However, in the first team drill of Tuesday, Randall Mackey took the first snaps with the first-team offense. Does that mean much? Maybe, maybe not. "I still say I like all three of them," said Nutt. "I'm not afraid to put any of them in. They are all competing hard. Mackey has really stepped it up the last couple of days. He got the first reps with the first team, but all of them got first-team reps. The scrimmage Saturday will be fun to watch because I think they have all gotten better and they all know they are in a battle."
* As everyone already knows, CB Senquez Golson did not sign a pro baseball contract with the Boston Red Sox by last night's midnight deadline. He will be returning to Ole Miss to pursue his college football and baseball careers. Senquez was not at practice Tuesday, but is expected to be back on campus in time to participate in Wednesday's practice. He flew in late last night to the Gulf Coast to tie up some loose ends today and will be driving back to Oxford early tomorrow. What does this mean for the Rebels? One, it gives the defense a fourth option at cornerback immediately and possibly a starting nickel or dime back. Two, it probably means Brassell will be able to concentrate more on offense than defense now. Had Golson signed with the Sox, Brassell may have been working more on defense than on offense. No matter, Golson's return is a shot in the arm to the secondary. There were some signs of relief on the coaching staff late last night when Golson's decision to stay at Ole Miss came out. Nutt was elated over Golson's choice. "I really appreciate his decision. I talked to his Dad at 10:55 last night - central time - but I was still a little scared because I had not talked to him (Senquez)," laughed Houston. "I was still nervous a little coming to work this morning so I called Dad again. 'Is he coming home without a signed contract?' He said he was. That's great for us and great for Ole Miss."
* The Rebs will go in full pads Wednesday. There was talk of having a mid-week scrimmage, but Nutt has nixed that idea. The next big scrimmage will be Saturday at Meet The Rebels.