Hump Day Diagnosis

The Rebels worked out in full pads again Wednesday as they continued their preparations for Saturday's contest against Fresno State in Fresno, Calif.

Due to obligations with his radio show, and it being aired a day early due to a Thursday departure from Oxford, Coach Houston Nutt was not available to the media after Wednesday's full-pad practice.

But Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix was available.

"My guys have been very enthusiastic and have practiced with a purpose this week," said Nix about the defense. "They are showing a passion and a desire to go and try to win another ballgame."

Nix has been leaning on his youth more and more each week and was asked about their progress.

"I love their work ethic and the way they attack the game," said Nix. "Serderius Bryant comes to mind first and I expect him to get more time this week after making a lot of plays against Georgia.

"Bryon Bennett will get his second start of his career at DT. C.J. Johnson is in our dime package at DE and will get a little more time in our base defense. Senquez Golson will have an important role in our dime packages this week. We are going to keep giving those guys more and more opportunities as they produce. We will also be using Nick Brassell as much as we can, but I know he will also be involved on special teams and on the offense."

Nick Brassell
File Photo

A name Nix mentioned a lot was LB Keith Lewis.

"He's been helping us on special teams, but he's been banged up a little. Also, Serderius has passed him a little for now. I think Keith has outstanding ability, he just needs to get more consistent," Tyrone explained.

Fresno will throw a lot with QB Derek Carr, who has over 1,000 yards passing already.

"He's an excellent quarterback. On film, he looks like the best we have faced so far and he has some real good weapons. They max protect a lot, throw it deep and give their guys chances to make plays," he closed.

Random Notes:

* Spur Aaron Garbutt had a poor first half against Georgia and was pulled from the defensive rotation. He was later injured on kickoff coverage. Garbutt is back now and Nix said he's doing better in practice, but if he's not playing well, a new face has been moved to spur - freshman Cody Prewitt, who has been backing up Charles Sawyer at safety. "Aaron is having a better week this week. He's not where I want him to be but he is showing flashes of the player he can be and who we thought he could be," Nix stated. "We have moved Cody there and we think he's going to have an outstanding career here, so don't be surprised if you see him play Saturday as well." Vincent Moss backed up Garbutt against Georgia.

* The Rebels usually depart for road games in the Southeastern region on Friday, but since the game with Fresno is all the way in California, two time zones West, the team will leave tomorrow night at 8:15. Originally, the plans were to leave around 5 p.m. after everyone got out of their Thursday classes, but the NCAA does not allow for travel departure more than 48 hours prior to kickoff. The Rebs asked for an exception to that rule but were denied by the NCAA. So, 8:15 departure it is, which is 6:15 on the West coast and coincides with 48 hours prior to Saturday's kickoff. Thursday's departure will not affect the normal practice routine. The Rebs usually work out in shorts and helmets for about an hour and 15 minutes on Thursdays and will do the same tomorrow.

Justin Smith
File Photo

* In the early drills Wednesday, senior Defensive End Kentrell Lockett as running with the first team defense ahead of Gerald Rivers, who has started the last two games.

* Redshirt candidate Woodrow Hamilton, a freshman defensive tackle, has a slightly sprained MCL and was held out of practice.

* Middle Linebacker Mike Marry, expected to suit up Wednesday after resting his injured foot on Tuesday, was still in a walking boot today. He is expected to play against Fresno, but the trainers and doctors felt he needed an extra day of rest this week.

* Senior Defensive Tackle Justin Smith had to miss the first three or four practice periods due to a late class on each Wednesday. In his absence, JUCO transfer Gilbert Pena was running with the first team defense next to redshirt freshman Bryon Bennett, who got his first collegiate start last week against Georgia.

* Spur Brishen Mathews has been diagnosed with a bulging disk in his back. The conservative route of treatment - a shot in the disk - will be the first step. If the shot does not take, surgery may be required. It's looking more and more as if Brishen may be out for the year.

* Mike Marry is not the only Rebel on the practice fields in a walking boot. Wide Receivers Coach Gunter Brewer is also in that clumsy, protective apparatus. Gunter has a bone spur in his left foot.

* Freshman Offensive Lineman Aaron Morris continued working with the first team offense Wednesday. Like Bennett, Morris had his first collegiate start against Georgia.

* As was noted Tuesday, QB Randall Mackey appears to be getting more reps with the top offense this week. Will he get his first start of the 2011 campaign against Fresno State? Still to be determined. . . .

* Freshman Nick Brassell, who had a breakout game last week on offense and special teams, has worked almost exclusively with the offense this week, but we are told he will still be available for spot duty on the defensive side of the ball.

* Sometimes it's hard for the untrained eye to detect how far along a player is in a comeback bid from injury, but suffice it to say TB Brandon Bolden looks more agile this week than he did last week in practice sessions. If true, that would be good news for the Rebel offense.

] * The Rebel special teams have been pretty solid thus far this year. They better stay solid and sound. Since 2002, not team in the country has blocked more kicks than Fresno State. They have blocked a whopping 60 in that time. Texas is second with 52 blocks.

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