Tuesday Tidbits

The Rebels hit the practice fields Tuesday in full pads as they prepare for Saturday night's cross-country battle with Fresno State.

Coach Houston Nutt and the Ole Miss Rebel football team went back to the drawing board again Tuesday after taking Monday off, which is mandatory by the NCAA.

The Rebels are coming off a 27-13 loss to Georgia Saturday and are now facing a West Coast trip as they prepare for the Fresno State Bulldogs.

"I thought we did some good things today correcting mistakes we made Saturday and I see signs of us getting better, which is the key to me," said Nutt. "We have to quit stopping ourselves. Foolish mistakes, penalties, missed assignments, they all haunt you."

At the beginning of practice and the end, Nutt spent more time than normal talking to his troops. The message?

"We are doing our best to give them the best plan for them to succeed and execute. Now, we want them to put everything into it to have that success," he explained. "When you watch last year's Fresno game, this is basically the same offensive line that gained 500 and something yards. So, come on. They are the same guys, we are the same guys. I know Brandon Bolden and Enrique are not themselves yet, but we have enough backs to make things happen. Let's go. Let's quit stopping ourselves. Those are the main things I am telling them."

Nutt as asked if the lack of production of the offense has been one of the most confusing of his career due to the OL being mostly back.

"I don't want to make excuses, but when we have Bolden and Davis back, I think you will see a difference, I really do," Houston continued. "I know we aren't blocking as well as we can. I thought we did a better job against Georgia, but we have to get even better, much better. Those backs also make a difference.

"We have to hold blocks longer, we have to execute our assignments better and we have to do it all without a penalty. Then, the backs have to hit the hole correctly and we have to do it all in rhythm."

Nutt's frustration at this point is easy to pinpoint.

"We've had years when we weren't hitting on all cylinders, but we've never had problems scoring. That is what is frustrating, but I believe we are going to get it turned, I really do," he closed.

Random Notes:

* Fresno has thrown for a little over 1,000 yards in four games with David Carr's little brother, Derek, at the helm. "They are similar to Georgia except they may use a few more formations and spread you out a little more," said Nutt. "Derek Carr is very, very good. He's an excellent athlete who can make all the throws. They also have a good running game - Coach (Pat) Hill loves the power game."

Devin Thomas
File Photo

* Punter Tyler Campbell has become a real weapon for the Rebels, something not lost on Nutt. "He's been outstanding. He's helped us so much with field position, placing it inside the 10 and keeping it away from dangerous return guys. Fantastic," Houston said.

* The Rebels have struggled to get something going in the ground game for a variety of reasons, but being without senior Tailbacks Brandon Bolden, the "real" Brandon, and Enrique Davis has been a detriment. Bolden said he is "getting better each day," but didn't want to guess about the "percentage" of health he's at right now. "I am getting better," said Bolden. "I can plant and cut a little better each day. I'm hopeful I am going to get back to my old self soon." It is also being speculated that Davis - who has been struggling with a hyperextended knee since the BYU game - will get some snaps this week against the Bulldogs.

* In the meantime, the Rebs will continue to lean heavily on sophomore Jeff Scott, who has gained 212 yards on the year and leads the Rebs in rushing, but junior Devin Thomas has also impressed the coaches with his "downhill" demeanor of late. The issue with Scott is keeping him healthy and making sure they don't wear him out since he is heavily counted on in the return game as well.

* Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach Junior Soli goes by Junior for a reason. His given Samoan name is Faamoemoe, pronounced Fah-ah-mo-mo. In the Samoan dictionary, that means "hope." He's hoping the Rebs get back on the winning track.

* We're not sure if this means much at this point, but QB Randall Mackey was lined up with the number one offense more today in the early going of the drills the media was allowed to watch. We'll try to investigate that more as the week progresses.

* MLB Mike Marry was back in his walking boot today. That's probably going to be common for him for a while as he nurses plantar fasciitis. He's slated to practice tomorrow and then rest until game time, taking only mental reps the rest of the week after working out on Wednesday. That's the same routine Mike had last week as well.

Bishen still out
File Photo

* Spur Brishen Mathews remains out of action, nursing a back lower back. No word on his return.

* Two new starters against Georgia appear to have done well enough against that set of Bulldogs to take on another group of Dogs this week. DT Bryon Bennett and Left Guard Aaron Morris were running with the number one defense and offense, respectively, on Tuesday. They both started against Georgia.

* The Rebels have effectively changed their blocking scheme on their punt coverage team, putting the "meat" back near the punter as personal protectors and the speed up front along the line for coverage purposes. The bog boys protecting Tyler Campbell, and doing a good job of it, are Chase Hughes, Matt Hall and Bennett. Campbell is coming off a tremendous game against Georgia and the punt coverage team has been one of the bright spots of the Rebels this year.

* Backup OT Emmanuel McCray limped off the field at the end of practice. Nutt said he believes he hurt his knee, but did not know the extent at that time. We'll let you know when we find out.

* Offensive Coordinator David Lee is also hopeful of getting the run game going. "The positive last week was that we are getting closer, but we've got more to do. We executed a little better and we stayed on our blocks a little better," said Lee. "We finished more blocks. Those things are encouraging. The run game is a priority - we do so much off of that like play action and controlling the clock. We had a good practice today.". . . Fresno DT Logan Harrell will be one of the main cogs of the Fresno defense. "We have to know where he is at all ttimes. He's a starter in any league with a non-stop motor," noted Lee. "We have to be very cognizant of where he is and what our assignments are to block him or he can be very disruptive."

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