Even though he didn't have the services of LB Jole Kight (hamstring), MLB Ralph Williams (ankle), OLB Damien Jackson (knee), DE Jason Jones (knee) and DE Carlos Thompson (hip flexor) and DTs Uriah Grant (groin) and Gilbert Pena (broken hand) played but were limited, Nix drew some positives from the 100-play scrimmage before an estimated crowd of 6,000.
"I thought we got off to a better start and played a little faster early on than we did last Saturday," noted Nix, referring partly to a first-play interception by CB Wesley Pendleton of a Randall Mackey pass. "I saw some good signs. We emphasized getting off to a good start and getting some turnovers and we did that.
"Those are good signs. Against base formations and base plays, we did pretty well. The thing that concerned me was that our third-down defense lapsed a few times and we have to play better on some trick plays they hit us on. Overall, I thought the kids played hard and got better."
But, in the end, with all those players, some of whom are 'key,' out, Nix did not feel he got a true feel of what the Rebel defense will be when those guys get healthy.
"I don't think what we saw today was our true identity and having those guys miss makes it hard to evaluate, but we always look at the positive in that situation - a lot of kids we needed to see more of got a lot more reps that we can evaluate," he stated, philosophically. "Keith Lewis, Cody Prewitt, Serderius Bryant, C.J. Johnson, Senquez Golson and a few more got some valuable reps. They are going to make some mistakes, but they played at a fairly high level and they are learning."
As of right now, Nix believes all three of the frosh LBs - Lewis, Johnson and Bryant - will play this year.
"C.J. is starting to get it and is getting better and better. Keith can play inside or outside and Serderius just shows up making plays," Nix added. "I think they all have special qualities. I think they will play - if not a lot on defense, on special teams."
The Rebel offense seemed to get good, consistent yardage on the ground against his crew, but Nix did not seem overall worried about that at this point.
"Again, we're missing some guys and some of the times we got gashed were passing situations where we were getting back and the offensive coaches just made good calls," he closed. "We missed some gaps on all levels - DL, LB and secondary - with some of those young guys and it all has to work together to stop the run. We will get those things corrected."
Lee is shuffling three of them - Mackey, Barry Brunetti and Zack Stoudt - and maintains he still has confidence in all three.
"We had a rough start with Randall getting a little impatient with an under route. He looked a little nervous, but after that, I thought he played really well," said Lee. "He moved the team, he can throw it deep, he's elusive and he extends plays.
"Brunetti is the best option quarterback, no doubt. Stoudt is the best dropback passer. He moves around well in the pocket, he extends the play.
"All three of them can move the club. All three of them can play and all three of them have something they do very well and have a facet to them that can help us. We'll name a starter when we are ready to name one and that might be a while. We'll keep watching them and keep working through it all, but we are not ready to name a guy yet."
'Everyone' is anxious for that decision to be made, but Lee said there is no urgency.
"Friday before the game is our deadline. Everyone wants to know, but we are not going to do it until it is right for the team," he stated. "They understand why they are 1-2-3. I want to see these guys keep competing against each other."
Lee had his reasons, which may provide some clarification, for his methods.
"What you have to understand is that we weren't calling plays to make first downs tonight for a long time. We scripted plays to get the ball in certain people's hands. We wanted to see what Nick Brassell could do, Donte Moncrief, Tobias Singleton, Jamal Mosley and so on with the ball in their hands. The thing that disappointed me the most was every time we tried to get it to Mosley, it was covered up or we would have a protection breakdown. This wasn't all about moving the ball, it was plays called to see what guys would do in situations. How they would respond.
"After that, we went to the 50, it was on. Tyrone was blitzing and doing the things he does so well and we wanted to see what our guys did best, so I ran Mackey plays, Stoudt plays and Brunetti plays. There were reasons for what we did and reasons for the results. Now, it's time to put all that behind us and call the plays that will make first downs against BYU."
The common belief is that a starting QB must be named around this time to get them more reps as the firsts game approaches. Lee thinks it's more about the quality of reps they have already had and will continue to get.
"I feel really good about where we are. Our QBs have had plenty of reps. I am not concerned about that. They are battle-hardened. Last Saturday, we went full contact with them. This time, we put red jerseys on them because Stoudt has a sore rib, Mackey has a sore knee and Brunetti has a sore elbow," Lee continued. "We just don't need them to lose one of them now."
Lee's troops did a commendable job in the run game most of the night.
"And we didn't use Brandon Bolden or Jeff Scott much again. That's just Houston (nutt). He's not going to lose a good running back like Arkansas did last week this close to the season."
Out side, Lee can't help but be drawn to the young wideouts, but he's waiting on more development to anoint them.
"I will be very honest, the worst thing they do is line up. We are not a right and left formation team. We are multiple and all over the place. We're unbalanced, on the ball, off the ball, two tights, four wides, three wides. We want to be a pain in the butt for the opposing team to break down," he noted. "Right now, we have to keep working them to line up right and know what they are doing. That is a must. We got penalties today because of that. They have to study harder.
"When they do line up right, I like all of them. I think Tobias is going to get better every day. I like Collins Moore a lot. The two who have jumped out early though are Brassell and Moncrief. I know that's a 'no kidding, coach' statement. They can be special, you saw that today. All four of them will, in time, be impact players for us here at Ole Miss."