Two Views, Same Field

Wesley Pendleton knows this isn't the same football he used to play. The junior from Copiah-Lincoln Community College admitted that quickly.

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"It ain't JUCO no more," said the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Natchez native, scheduled to draw a start at right cornerback Saturday afternoon for Ole Miss against Brigham Young. "My coaches have helped me get ready with my plays and my speed so I can go out there and make plays."

Speed is certainly something Pendleton brings to the squad. He earned NJCAA All-America honors in track at Co-Lin, and he has a personal best time of 10.49 in the 100 meters and 21.03 in the 200 meters.

Pendleton, who joined the Rebels in January, said he's come a long way in a lot of areas since then, and even since the start of August camp.

"My conditioning's way better," he said, mentioning a step up even the past month. "I was getting gassed in all this heat and stuff. But I'm getting used to it now. I'm just ready to get out there and help my teammates and get this win."

Pendleton said being here in the spring was invaluable to him.

"It helped me learn the plays," he said. "It allowed me to get to camp and just come out here and just play. I don't have to think. I can just react and keep myself up."

Pendleton likes his mates in the defensive backfield. He sees a strong group that's coming together and improving. Depth isn't tremendous, but Pendleton said it is what it is.

"Me and Temp (Marcus Temple) at cornerback, we're planning on going the whole game," he said. "I really do think our defensive backs are going to hold up, because me, Temp, Charles (Sawyer), Damien Jackson, Frank Crawford, all of us are doing good. We're going to turn some heads this year."

Speaking of turning heads, Pendleton likes what secondary coach Keith Burns has done with the defenders. He says Burns makes it simple and is an effective teacher of the game.

Jeff Scott
Bruce Newman

"He's intense. He's going to get good things out of you every day, every minute. I've never seen him down," he said. "He doesn't teach us difficult stuff. It's more simple. It's stuff you don't have to think about, and it helps you. Just turn our head back and go get the football."

Pendleton said Saturday is what it's all about and makes it all worthwhile.

"I'm just looking for the atmosphere," he said. "I'm going to try to get all my butterflies out early so I can just play."

Scott likes his role:

Jeff Scott said game week means all the work and effort for nearly an entire year is put to use as game one is at hand.

"It's very important, and everybody's excited," said the Miami, Fla., native. "Everybody's been working hard all spring, all summer. We're just ready to go in there and play."

The sophomore running back said the team understands how important the opener is for the season.

"It's a real important game. I think it's a confidence game. The coaches have prepared us very well," he said. "The team is pumped, and we're ready to go in there and play."

The speedy running back said last season, his first in college, helped him prepare for this season.

"It was very important that I played," he said. "I had to adjust to the game speed. I've gotten a lot better at my blocking. I've gained extra weight, and I've bettered my game as far as blocking. So that's good."

The extra weight, some 10 pounds according to Scott, hasn't affected his 5-7 frame as far as mobility.

"It's actually helping me," he said of playing at 180 pounds currently. "I'm able to break through some of those tackles I wasn't able to break through last year. Last year watching film you can see some of the plays that I actually could have broke, but a defensive man just tackled me with one arm. If I'd have had the extra weight, I could have broken those tackles and gotten into the end zone."

Head coach Houston Nutt said Tuesday was a good day offensively for his team, and that some of the players are beginning to push forward. Scott agreed.

"Every day we just talk to each other and give each other confidence," said Scott, who rushed for 429 yards in 10 games as a freshman last fall. "We just go out there and play hard."

Scott said he knows he has players ahead of him who are veterans. He's willing to contribute in a lot of ways, just as he did last season.

"I'm a role player right now with two seniors playing in front of me," he said. "I just want to go out there and help my team, on special teams, kick return, punt return, and a little bit of running back."

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