Back At It

The Ole Miss Rebels are still stinging from their close-and-almost loss to BYU last Saturday, but you wouldn't have known it from Tuesday's practice in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

There is a saying that youth is resilient.

After having their hearts ripped out Saturday in the season opener against BYU, the Rebels showed some elasticity in their "bounce back" ability with a solid practice session Tuesday in the stadium.

"I was pleased with the way we worked today," said Houston Nutt. "The weather was perfect. We had a spirited practice. We were all still in shock Sunday, which is expected, but the kids put that one behind them and came out today with a good attitude.

"We lost, but I think every one of these kids believes we can be a good football team this year. It's a totally different feeling from last year's opener."

All eyes are on quarterback right now, so the obvious question was asked about the productivity of Zack Stoudt and Randall Mackey, who is now off his suspension.

Brandon Bolden
File Photo

"They both looked good. Randall had to leave early to take a test, but overall they were very good. Zack threw the ball well today," said Nutt.

Random Notes:

* The Rebel offensive line did not get much praise after the game Saturday and OL Coach Mike Markuson knows why. "We did some good things and we did some bad things," he said. "The problem was that we had more bad than we anticipated. Our fundamentals were very average and we didn't create many clean running holes. We can do a lot better. I thought we did a pretty good job in pass protection overall based on the grading of the film, but we have a lot of room for improvement overall.". . . Mike said the Rebs will go back to basics this week and work a lot on fundamentals. . . ."We just didn't get in a rhythm except when Jeff (Scott) hit that punt return and it sparked us a little," he continued. "We didn't have any big plays and we were kind of hodge podge in results. Then we fell apart at the end with the penalties and the fumble. We have to learn from it. We have high expectations for our OL regardless of who is at running back. We have to do a better job of opening holes and picking up stunts and blitzes. We also have to be more physical. We missed some assignments we shouldn't have missed. It was discouraging the way we lost the game with the defense playing so well.". . . Markuson put two new guards on the field in Matt Hall and Patrick Junen, but he said they weren't the reason for the lack of performance. . . "They did a decent job, actually. There were certain times when we all looked lethargic," he said. "We need to put a full game together and get into a better rhythm earlier in the game. We didn't get it done and we have to from this point on."

* Senior Tailbacks Brandon Bolden (foot) and Enrique Davis (knee), as you already know, were out Tuesday. Bolden was on crutches and in a walking boot on his left ankle. Enrique was not on crutches and told one his teammates, "I feel a lot better today than I did Saturday night." Nutt said there is no update yet on their injuries.

* DE Jason Jones (knee) is not back at practice yet, but he's trying to work his way back. He was at practice Tuesday armed with his helmet and going through some of the individual drills with a knee brace on. Will he come back this week? "He's getting better, but I don't know how close he is," Nutt stated.

* So far this week, there are no changes to the defensive first team. DEs Kentrell Lockett and Wayne Dorsey, DTs Uriah Grant and Justin Smith, LBs Mike Marry and Joel Kight/Ralph Williams, Spur Aaron Garbutt, Safties Damien Jackson and Charles Sawyer and CBs Wesley Pendleton and Marcus Temple remain at the top.

Chief Brown
File Photo

* Four players anticipated to get some quality reps this weekend on defense are DE Carlos Thompson, who did not play against BYU, CB Senquez Golson, who got his college feet wet on special teams, and LBs Keith Lewis, who also played on special teams, and C.J. Johnson are being prepped this week for more PT if they have a good week of practice. Thompson missed two weeks of fall camp due to a hip flexor injury and has been in catch-up mode, Golson missed virtually a week while in negotiations with the Boston Red Sox concerning his pro baseball career and Johnson is, according to DC Tyrone Nix, "starting to get it."

* As stated in yesterday's press conference, Korvic Neat was moved from slot to running back, as was Safety Chief Brown. Safety Cody Prewitt is also expected to be moved but he has come down with an eye infection and will remain at safety for now. "Korvic had a lot of recall from having played there before. He knows the plays. Chief has some natural ability back there," Nutt noted. "It's hard for Chief because we are rushing him. Even at that, he can do a few things. Chief would probably have the smallest role this quickly, but Korvic, Devin Thomas and Jeff Scott will have to be our guys. We also have Derrick Herman, who can move to tailback if we need him. He's been there before."

* Tailback Devin Thomas missed practice Tuesday due to a class conflict. Also, several Rebels missed the last half of practice to take tests, including QB Randall Mackey and TE Jamal Mosley. "I can see now why a lot of people are starting to practice at 5:30 in the morning. It's disruptive when so many miss practice for 6 p.m. tests and things like that," said Nutt. "I wish there was something we could do about that."

* DT Gilbert Pena has been playing with a cast on his hand to protect a break that was surgically prepared the second week of fall camp. Today, the cast was off and he was playing "two-handed" for the first time in nearly a month.

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