Wrapping Up

The Ole Miss Rebels and Vanderbilt Commodores will square off Saturday at 6 p.m. in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The Rebs put their final full-speed touches on the gameplan at Thursday's practice.

Early this week, it looked as if the Rebels would be missing several players for Saturday's SEC battle with Vanderbilt.

As the week wore on, several returned to practice and are now prepared to play.

Good news, for sure, because some of the names on the unable-to-participate list were/are players who have made an impact in getting the Rebels to 5-4 and one game away from being bowl eligible with three games left to play.

Safety Trae Elston was the latest to come back to "work" after having missed two days due to turf toe. He practiced with the first-team defense Thursday.

Yesterday, as we reported, OG Aaron Morris (shoulder), DE C.J. Johnson (foot/toe), CB Senquez Golson (concussion) and LB Keith Lewis (shoulder) all participated after missing Tuesday's workout. DT Woodrow Hamilton, who has missed the last few weeks with an ankle sprain, also returned to action this week.

Still missing is Slot Receiver Philander Moore (foot), CB Wesley Pendleton (ankle) and LB Aaron Garbutt (illness).

DT Uriah Grant missed practice Thursday with an undisclosed illness but sources close to the program believe he will play against Vandy.

DT Issac Gross was limited this week, just as he was last week, with a sore groin, but he will play against Vandy as he did against Georgia.

The big charge for the Rebel offense this week will be to get the run game back going like it was earlier in the year after a game and a half slump, of sorts.

OL Coach Matt Luke is right in the middle of getting the ground game back going.

"The last two weeks have not been what we wanted in the run game," Luke stated. "We have to play better. We have to be more physical.

"Obviously, the competition has gotten better, which is one reason, but it's on us. We have to be more physical and finish blocks."

Luke believes Vandy's front is "very good."

"DT Rob Lohr and DE Walker May are NFL-type players. They are talented and tough and they play hard. They are also well-coached," he noted. "We are going to have to play really well for us to run the ball successfully."

Recognition of what Vandy is doing is also the Rebels have to be aware of.

"They are multiple and do a good job of disguising their stuff. They give you the same look to start with and then do several things," Luke added. "They do a nice job and we will have to recognize things quickly, but I think we have a good plan. It's up to us to go out there and execute our plan.

"They have a lot to play for, but we do too. I expect a dogfight. This is the most important game because it's the next one, but obviously we are one game away from bowl eligible and we want to reach that goal now."

P.S. - Luke said Morris is not 100% but he has a contingency plan if things don't go well for Aaron.

"I expect him to be OK. We have several guys pushing through some bumps and bruises and injuries," Luke noted. "I have worked Justin Bell, Jared Duke and Patrick Junen, who has played guard before, in a lot this week."

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