Practice Report: First Day Of Pads!

Rebel QB Micheal Spurlock said he's been waiting since the Grove Bowl for the first full pad workout of August. "Now it feels like real football," said the junior signal-caller. "We've had a lot of bottled up energy we needed to get out and today accomplished that."

Again, the Rebels were blessed with fall-like weather with the temperatures hovering in the high 70s for a 10 a.m. practice. Coach David Cutcliffe was pleased with the end results.

"We got in a lot of positive work today. We had some individual contact work and some team contact work that was productive. I'm anxious to see this practice on film for further analysis," said Cut. "Off the cuff, I thought the competition between the offense and defense was evident. I was also impressed with the two-minute drill work we had at the end of the practice. There's been a lot of give-and-take between the offense and defense and that's good. We had a practice we can build on today. I'm anxious about tomorrow morning to see if we can put two good full pad practices together back-to-back. I thought the experience and cohesiveness of the first offensive line was apparent today in 9-on-8 running game work, but I expect them to be good.

"From a negative standpoint, I was still not pleased with the way we are catching the ball. We had an opportunity to make some big plays today, but had a few drops. We also have a few too many people out with nagging injuries and freshman DE Cory Mills is home in Memphis taking care of a personal matter."

Cutcliffe was asked if any personnel decisions on newcomers have been made.

"No, it's too early for that. We are getting some good looks of some of the newcomers and are heading that way, but right now all of them have a lot to learn before we'll make any major decisions," he explained.

Cut said the Rebs, who will workout tomorrow morning at 8:45 in full pads and tomorrow afternoon at 6 in helmets and shorts, will have some scrimmage work in the morning but it will be similar to today - controlled.

"We want the kids to get acclimated to the pads before we have any full contact work. We had a quick whistle today and will have one tomorrow as well," he closed.

Notes:

* The walking wounded include: S Tavarus Horne - aggravated knee, LB Dontae Reed - hamstring, DE Corvelli Haynes - groin, TE Robert Hough - knee twist, and DT McKinley Boykin - knee rehab. Horne and Reed sat out the entire practice, but Horne said he's going to be OK. Haynes did some individual work, but did not participate in team drills. Hough contined practicing after getting bandaged. Boykin went through the whole practice and said he felt pretty good besides some late "tightness." He was flying around pretty good on the field, but had a slight limp when coming off the field.

* In field goal drills, the kickers - Jonathan Nichols, Matt Hinkle and Hunter Bray - were a combined 11-12 from 32-38 yards.


Pass pro/rush drill

* It appears as if WR Mike Espy is going to be the jack-of-all-trades in the return game. Right now, Espy is the number one punt returner, number one with B. Brown in kickoff returns, and number one with Taye Biddle as an outside gunner on punt coverage. . . . Other gunner candidates include Bryant Thomas, Nate Banks, Trumaine McBride, Iroko Ayodele and Kerry Johnson. Johnson and Ayodele are currently number two on the depth chart.

* Sidney McLaurin will remain as the number one deep snapper after a good fall and spring last year and improvement through the summer. He's doing an excellent job in that capacity thus far in August. Number two is DT Andrew Wicker and the third snapper would be OT Slate Amos, same as last year.

* The Winning Edge by Defensive Cordinator Chuck Driesbach to the defense on the first day of pads was a concise one. "Be physical. Physical is defined in the dictionary as knocking the heck out of someone," he said. "Do that today."

* The Rebs had their first round of Oklahoma drills today and the offensive linemen controlled the action. The Oklahoma drills is set up as an advantage to the offense and the OL used the edge to capitalize on success. Only DE Jayme Mitchell, DT Wicker and young DE Chris Bowers "won" on the defensive side. The offense one the rest of the snaps.

* As Cutcliffe mentioned, in 9-on-8 drills, the offense controlled the tempo, both the number one and number two units. Surprisingly, the number two unit opened up some pretty good running lanes against the number two DL, which was not expected. They each had two series. The ones won the opening series with Vashon Pearson doing most of the damage. On their next series, Mitchell made two excellent plays to get a draw in the return match. The twos, with Alan Abrams and Brandon Jacobs toting the rock, also won their opening match and broke even on the rematch. . . Marcus Johnson, Chris Spencer and Doug Buckles were crisp and sharp in their execution in middle blocking and two or three times tackles Tre' Stallings and Bobby Harris gave the RBs the outside edge for big gains.

* LB Marquis McBeath has had well-documented shoulder problems. Today was a huge test for him. He said he felt real good after several good hits on and with his shoulders. He said he was relieved because he really didn't know what to expect.

* The wide receivers and quarterbacks must have had their pride hurt by the secondary yesterday in pass scale because today they came back with and excellent throw-and-catch day against the DBs in pass scale work. Spurlock was on the money throughout the drill and the receivers were getting opened versus being hemmed up all day yesterday. . . The defense did get in two uppercuts though when CBs Trumaine McBride and Bryant Thomas picked off passes - one by Spurlock and one by Ethan Flatt.

* In the two-minute drill at the end of practice, Flatt engineered a 65-yard TD march to a score, capping it with a fade throw to Espy in the corner of the end zone. Not to be outdone, Spurlock followed up against the number one defense with a 65-yard toss to a streaking Taye Biddle.

* In the opportunity period for the newcomers, redshirts and third teamers, TB Dawan Woods made a couple of good runs and frosh CB Dustin Mouzon had a pick.

* We worked on our first depth chart of the year and got about 2 1/2 deep. We'll continue filling in the blanks as practices go on. Here's a quick look at what we do have thus far:

Offense: WR - Bill Flowers, Mario Hill, Carlos Suggs; Slot - Kerry Johnson, Matt Pierce; LT - Bobby Harris, Tony Sanders, James Campbell; LG - Doug Buckles, James McCoy, Thomas Eckers; C - Chris Spencer, Tony Bonds, Terrence Houston; RG - Marcus Johnson, Ryan Jones, Broderick Jones; RT - Tre' Stallings, Marcus Cohen, Slate Amos/Richard Whitfield; TE - Eric Rice/Larence Lilly/Jimmy Brooks; Flanker - Mike Espy/Taye Biddle, Frank Clayton; QB - Spurlock, Flatt and Robert Lane; TB - Pearson, Abrams/Jacobs, Woods; FB - Lorenzo Townsend/Rick Razzano, Anthony Hobgood/Craig Holcomb.

* Defense: LE - Jayme Mitchell, Brandon Jenkins, Dedrick Clark; LT - McKinley Boykin/Andrew Wicker, Chris Herring; NT - Daniel Booth/Michael Bozeman, Jeremy Garrett; RE - Cory Robinson, Viciente DeLoach/Corvelli Haynes; LB - Brian Lester, Patrick Willis, Shawn Johnson; LB - Rob Robertson, Marquis McBeath, Garry Pack; SS - Kelvin Robinson, Iroko Ayodele, Danny Bell; WS - Charles Clark, Larry Kendrick, Edwin Gelin/Kareem Moore; FS - Eric Oliver, B. Brown, Thad Rhodes; LCB - Travis Johnson, Nate Banks, Terrell Jackson/Dustin Mouzon; RCB - Trumaine McBride, Bryant Thomas, Josh Braithwaite.

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