The players were donned in full gear, the kicking game was a strong point of emphasis and fundamentals ruled the day in different unit drills.
"It was another good sprited day with perfect weather," said Coach Houston Nutt. "They all got after it today. We're excited this week with the way they bounced back with a great attitude and great enthusiasm. We can't wait to get back out there Saturday."
An old coaching adage states teams make their most improvement between the first and second games. Nutt is a believer in that theory.
"We don't have preseason games and we don't scrimmage that much, so it's always good to get a game under our belts so the kids can see themselves on film in a game situation," he explained. "All the little things they could have done are right there and they get a clearer understanding of what we have been teaching them.
"We spent a lot of time on fundamentals and on correcting things. Now we have to take it to the field and show the improvement in games."
Southern Illinois relies some on transfers, guys who might not be first-teamers at the bigger school they signed with but have some skill and want to play.
"They are good athletes and they want to get in games. I did that at Murray State. In a smaller program, you need to be in the transfer market because you can find some good players that way," Nutt said. "Southern Illinois has done that and they have a good team. That's one of the reasons."
Nutt was asked how the SEC making a move into Texas would change the way he recruits.
"We have always loved Texas. Before this happened with Texas A&M, we had already decided to recruit Texas harder," he said. "Now, we have a bigger reason. We may even put another coach or two in there.
"With the exposure the SEC will now get in Texas, that should open a lot of doors for us. Ole Miss already has a great reputation in Texas and gets a lot of students from there. Why not football players too? Those high school programs there are outstanding. Some of those schools have as many assistant coaches as colleges do. Fundamentally, they are way ahead of the game, so it will be a good move for us to have a stronger presence in Texas."
* Sophomore Brishen Mathews ended spring as one of the starting safeties, along side senior Damien Jackson. Then, in early fall camp, he was moved to the Spur, the hybrid LB/S position. After the first scrimmage, he was moved back to safety and Jackson was moved to Spur. Now, one game into the season, Mathews has been moved back to Spur and Jackson, who had 13 tackles in the opener, has been switched back to safety. Brishen currently backs up starting Spur Aaron Garbutt. JUCO transfer Ivan Nicholas, true freshman Denzel Nkemdiche and redshirt freshman Sam Noblin are also working at the Spur.
* Rebels ask all the time about an update on RB Tim Simon, who had a devastating knee injury nearly two years ago and still has not been able to return to the field. The latest on him is that his knee has basically been declared "sound" after a couple of operations. What is keeping him off the field is the nerve damage in his ankle that occurred due to the residual effect of his knee injury. He wears a brace on his left ankle now and is starting to get some control over his foot - finally. For over a year, he had no control over his foot. Now, Simon can lift it up and has some control - meaning it's getting better - but there is no word when he might be able to resume running.
* Freshman Chief Brown was moved to running back Tuesday due to the injuries to Bolden and Davis. He played running back in high school for three years. He should have some familiarity with the position - it is not completely foreign to him. The issue right now is the offensive terminology and the "little things" that backs have to do in this system. Will he play this week? No word on that yet, but Nutt said Chief has shown some natural instincts for the position. In the meantime, Devin Thomas, who missed yesterday's practice with a test/class conflict, Jeff Scott and Korvic Neat, who was moved from slot Tuesday, are getting the majority of running back reps in team drills.
* Based on observations from early practice drills, it looks as if OL Coach Mike Markuson is currently sticking with his starting lineup from the BYU game: LT Bradley Sowell, LG Patrick Junen, C A.J. Hawkins, RG Matt Hall and RT Bobby Massie.
* Besides Bolden and Davis, WR Melvin Harris was held out of practice again Wednesday.
* As we reported yesterday, DE Jason Jones (knee) is trying to play through his injury. He was at practice again Wednesday in shorts and a helmet, but he went through more individual, non-contact drills today than he did Tuesday. He has a brace on his injured right knee, but appears to be moving around pretty well. Again,l we'll see.
* Freshman Keith Lewis has been moved from outside linebacker to middle and he's starting to make a push for playing time. "Keith has had a really good week. I think he will play some this week at MLB," said DC Tyrone Nix. That will be music to Lewis' ears. "I've been meeting with Coach Nix a lot lately to get up to speed in the middle. I want to push Mike (Marry) and C.J. (Johnson) for the starting spot," said Lewis. "I'm going to keep working hard. I played safety, Will LB, Sam LB and Mike LB in high school, so this is not that new to me. I just have to stay humble and keep working hard. Maybe I can make a good impression and get some playing time this year." Keith played special teams against BYU and was thrilled. "It was great. I loved every second of it. To get to play in my first college game was something I will never forget," he said. "I just have to stay healthy and keep working hard so I get more chances."