Preparations Wind Down

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt believes the Rebels have had a productive week of practice in preparing for the Rebs' SEC opener against Vanderbilt Saturday morning in Nashville, but some questions remain unanswered. Read about it inside.

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Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt came out on the Rebel practice fields Thursday a little earlier than usual with a bit of a pep in his step.

It was a beautiful day and Nutt was feeling good about the way his team had prepared all week.

"I believe we are ready. The guys have been focused and attentive all week," he stated. "I feel a sense of urgency. I believe we have prepared the right way."

A sense of urgency, for 60 minutes, is what it will take to upend Saturday morning's opponent, Vanderbilt, in Nashville.

"We have to finish. We didn't finish against BYU - that was obvious to everyone, and that's why we lost," he said. "Against Southern Illinois, we started strong and finished strong, but we didn't play well in the middle.

"We've got to play hard for 60 minutes against Vandy. History tells us that. The way they look on film this year tells us that. We had a good week, but now we have to go do it on the field when it counts at 11:21 a.m. Saturday."

Houston Nutt
Bruce Newman

Nutt's outlined his keys to the game defensively and offensively.

"On defense, no big plays. Last eyar, we gave up big plays to them. We have to be better on first down. We have to keep getting turnovers and we have to stay pretty good in the red zone. We also need to be good fundamental tacklers," he said.

"Offensively, don't stop yourself. Nobody has stopped us yet, but we have stopped ourselves with penalties, loose balls, a drop. In the kicking game, stay sound. We've been OK there this year so far."

The $64K question is one that may not be answered until Saturday - will TB Brandon Bolden, MLB Mike Marry, DE Jason Jones and TB Enrique Davis play versus the 'Dores?

"All I can tell you 40 hours or so from kickoff is that they are all trying," said Nutt. "Mike ran around some today and Brandon and Jason have been trying to go all week. Enrique is also giving it a try. I am excited seeing them out there giving it a try.

"Brandon won't start, but I feel he might be able to help us. We'll see as we get closer to kickoff."

Random Notes:

* As was reported yesterday, Nickolas Brassell was still working with the defense at cornerback. Coach Keith Burns said earlier that "Nick has some natural instincts that you can't teach. If we can get him over on our side and teach him some basics, he will help us." Looks like Burns got his wish. Don't be surprised to see #2 go both ways against Vanderbilt.

* DE Kentrell Lockett missed practice Thursday to attend a funeral back home in Louisiana. He is expected back in Oxford in the morning.

* Nutt was asked prior to practice if freshman C.J. Johnson will get any snaps at his new position (DE) against Vanderbilt. "That's our plan right now," he said. Johnson has been at DE for three days after spending all of August and the first two weeks of the season at middle linebacker.

* As we wrote yesterday, if Marry cannot go, look for Ralph Williams and freshman Keith Lewis to man the middle linebacker slot. Williams is still struggling a bit with an ankle injury from back in August, but he's expected to be in the 90-95% range, according to DC Tyrone Nix.

Aaron Garbutt
Chuck Rounsaville

* Spur Brishen Mathews has not practiced all week, complaining of lower back problems. It is doubtful he will dress for the Vandy game. In his absence, Vincent Moss will back up starter Aaron Garbutt.

* As of Thursday, there were no moves on the offensive line. The starters will remain the same - LT Bradley Sowell, LG Patrick Junen, C A.J. Hawkins, RG Matt Hall and RT Bobby Massie. Tank Washington and Aaron Morris appear to be the top backups if anyone is injured or falters.

* Nutt was asked to elaborate on some recent articles about the positive affects on recruiting the Pro Combat uniforms are having. "We've talked about it. The grey uniform gave us a lift in recruiting last year - ask our true freshmen," said Nutt. "Fashion statements catch the eye of a 17 or 18-year old youngster. We have a lot of tradition with our uniforms, but we have to talk about some things and see if we need to do some different things, like the baby blue helmets, or all white. We're in that day and age where it's a benefit to recruiting. Some people won't like us saying that, but it's hard to please everyone. Right now, if we wear red, some want blue. If we wear blue, they want red, but for recruiting, I think it's a necessity to stay up with the times. We have recruits ask us about that stuff all the time. Nike came up with the grey jerseys and that was good for us with recruits. We'll see what is next."

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