Trying To Get Back

The Ole Miss Rebels practiced in full pads again Wednesday in preparation for their SEC opener with Vanderbilt Saturday in Nashville. Read about it inside.

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TB Brandon Bolden (foot), TB Enrique Davis (hyperextended knee) and DE Jason Jones (knee) continued in their bids to come back from injuries in Wednesday's full-pad practice on the Ole Miss practice fields.

Coach Houston Nutt is still uncertain how much, if any, they can contribute in the SEC opener against Vanderbilt Saturday in Nashville, but he is hopeful.

"Jason seems to be getting better. We will take him on the trip and see if we can get a few plays out of him," said Nutt. "We are still day-by-day with Enrique and Brandon. We will continue to evaluate them right up until Saturday morning. I don't know what to expect, really."

Nutt was pleased with Wednesday's workout.

"We had a lot of concentration on both sides of the ball. It was good. We worked different situations and executed well," he said. "If you go back in history, the Ole Miss-Vandy game has always been tough and physical. We have to play extremely hard and get ready to match and exceed their intensity on their home field.

"It will be 60 minutes with no time to relax, we can't give them gifts and we have to finish. Anything less will not be good enough."

Random Notes:

* There was a wait-and-see attitude this spring and summer concerning the placement kicking operation and the punting operation. Why? Redshirt freshman Will Denny would be getting his first bite of the deep snapping apple this year and backup Punter Chris Conley would be holding for PK Bryson Rose for the first time. There's still a long way to go this season, but through two games, so far, so good. Special Teams Coordinator James Shibest said the "ideal standard" for getting punts off is 2.0 seconds. That includes Denny's snap and Punter Tyler Campbell's kick. So far, the Rebs have met or exceeded that standard with every punt, averaging 1.95 seconds. The gold standard for placements, including Denny's shorter snap, Conely's hold and Rose's kick is 1.3 seconds. So far, the Rebs have been in the 1.32 range with one being 1.29. Very acceptable. Not only that, but Denny has gotten real good grades with the accuracy of his snaps. The wait-and-see approach is now, officially, off the shelf.

Ralph Williams
File Photo

* Since it only happened yesterday, it's hard to evaluate the move of C.J. Johnson from middle linebacker to defensive end, but the word around practice is that C.J. has good quickness off the edge and the DE slot might be a good match for him. It's still real early in the process and he has a lot to learn from a technique and assignment standpoint, but the early signs look promising, we were told.

* Nickolas "Snoop" Brassell has been practicing exclusively on the offensive side of the ball the past month, but Wednesday he was dressed in a blue jersey, which the defense donned. He worked at cornerback behind Wesley Pendleton. When asked, Nutt said, "he's comfortable at wideout now so it's time for him to learn corner so we can use him both ways." Snoop worked some at corner in the early going of August practice and showed great promise.

"Both ways" sounds good to us. WR Gunter Brewer said he is fine with "sharing" Nick for the good of the team. "We've talked about Nick going both ways all year. Now, he knows enough of the offense that we can let him do both and learn more about the defensive side of the ball," said Brewer. "It's all about where you are thin. Even though my guys are young, I do have some depth and there isn't a lot of depth in the secondary. We feel Nick can help them and give them some more flexibility. We believe he is talented enough, and now familiar enough, to help us on both sides of the ball."

* WR Tobias Singleton and TB Jeff Scott split reps in a long kickoff return drill. Apparently the coaches liked what they saw from Tobias on two or three returns last week against SIU and are putting him on the front burner to split time with Scott.

Tobias Singleton
File Photo

* MLB Mike Marry was still on crutches and in a boot Wednesday and his status for the Vandy game is still up in the air as he tries to recover from a strainer arch/plantar fasciitis. The word from the training room is that Marry felt quite a bit better Wednesday but he was still not able to practice. If the Rebels have to play without No. 52, it appears Ralph Williams will get a start at MLB and will be backed up by Keith Lewis.

Joel Kight will get the nod at OLB and will be backed by true freshman Serderius Bryant. Meant only as a talking point, that's a junior, a redshirt freshman and two true frosh as the linebacking corps for the SEC opener. "I don't feel good about having Mike Saturday. He's out here in a boot and that's not a good sign on Wednesday. I hate that - he's been doing a fine job for us," Nutt stated. "I am confident in Ralph though. He's got good ability and his work ethic and attitude have been outstanding. Between him, Joel, Keith and Serderius, they will have to get it done. They are young, but that doesn't matter now. They have to buckle up and perform. We'll be counting on them to step up."

* Backup Spur Brishen Mathews remained sidelined Wednesday with lower back pain. No word on his return. In his absence, expect Ivan Nicholas to back up Aaron Garbutt at spur.

* WR Melvin Harris dressed out for the first time in a couple of weeks. He was not getting a lot of reps during the time we were allowed to watch, but at least he was out there.

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