All-American left tackle back in the fold after suspension

Having All-American Left Tackle Laremy Tunsil back in the fold, MLB C.J. Johnson limited but dressed out, and the coaches opting for more mid-week contact seemed to have put a charge in the Rebels at practice Tuesday.

In Monday's press conference, Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze said the Sunday "truth" meeting and Sunday's practice were "enthusiastic and productive."

Monday is a day off, but when practice resumed Tuesday, it appeared the presence of Laremy Tunsil and C.J. Johnson and the plan of the coaches to have more contact/tackling kept the enthusiasm going.

The media was only allowed to watch four periods of the workout, but it was spirited and the focus seemed to be there as the players anticipated some hard contact drills.

 "We have to practice harder and take care of our own jobs," said MLB Terry Caldwell. "I think we have guys trying to do too much rather than just taking care of their jobs. We are also missing some assignments."

Caldwell is glad to see some tackling coming back into the prctice plans.

"The film did not lie - we need work on tackling. That Memphis film was hard to watch. We missed a lot of tackles against Memphis. I'm glad we are working on tackling this week. The only way to get better at something is to do it over and over until you get it right," he said. "We are going to have more physical practices this week and moving forward. We are going to be fine.

"We still have confidence, we just have to execute better. We have to get our Landshark mentality back. To do that we have to be more physical, we have to tackle better and we have to execute on third down a lot better. Texas A&M will be a big test for us. They spread you out and go with an empty backfield some. They attack the perimeters. We will have to be on top of all of that."

Random Notes:

* It has been anticipated for a couple of weeks that C.J. Johnson would be tested the week of the Texas A&M game and, sure enough, he was dressed out and practicing Tuesday. He didn't seem to be doing a whole lot, but he was moving around well and seemed in good spirits. He's been getting good reports the past two weeks from doctors and trainers. It will be interesting to see how the week goes and if he will be available Saturday. Keep your fingers crossed. . . 

* It was hoped Husky Tony Conner might make an appearance at practice this week, but that did not materialize Tuesday. Tony, you will recall, had a rehab setback two weeks ago, but since then - we understand, he has made excellent progress toward a return this season, but it is still "iffy" and he cannot have another setback in the process in order to have a return.

* DT Robert Nkemdiche, OLB Tayler Polk and FS/Rover Trae Elston all missed practice while going through concussion protocol. Elston attended practice and went through some mental reps, but he was not dressed out. Nkemdiche and Polk did not come out to practice. Punter Will Gleeson is also going through the protocol but he also came out to practice to observe.

* DT Issac Gross is two weeks out from neck surgery and is sporting a nice scar to the right of his adam's apple, but he says he feels real good and is optimistic about his return next season. He will not be able to go through any contact work until next fall, but in the meantime he is going through a lot of strength and massage therapy and said he already feels much better.

* Obviously in the last few games, the Rebel cornerbacks have been struggling, but in talking with defensive coaches, they feel the things they are doing incorrectly are "fixable." Poor technique, both in coverage and tackling, and old bad habits lingering too long have been the culprits and extensive work this week will be done in those areas. It appears Tony Bridges and Kendarius Webster will remain the starters, but Carlos Davis and Kailo Moore, now healthy after missing a couple of weks, are waiting in the wings and are expected to get action. Freshman Cam Ordway is also on deck.

* Husky Mike Hilton left the Memphis game with a stinger, but he was dressed out and going full speed in Tuesday's practice.

* DT Breeland Speaks made a positive impression playing 69 snaps against Memphis after Nkemdiche left with the concussion, and while he did not grade particularly well due to technique 'minuses,' it's obvious he is an instinctive football player who has a nose for the ball and a high football IQ. Coach Chris Kiffin said he is not that concerned right now with a grade, that his marks will improve as he learns more technique and gets more experience. Meanwhile, he's just making plays.

* Things finally look more "normal" on the offensive line with Tunsil back. Of course, he's at left tackle, which allows Fahn Cooper to go back to his natural position of right tackle. The book ends now look like they were supposed to all year. In the middle, Center Robert Conyers is gone or the year, but Ben Still and Justin Bell are holding down the center spot with Aaron Morris and Rod Taylor at gthe guard slots with Javon Patterson and Jordan Sims backing them up. Hopefully, "normal" will result in better production. Certainly having Laremy and Fahn where they are supposed to be should be a shot in the arm.


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