Practice Report: Saturday night

Coach David Cutcliffe put the Rebs through a fairly tough full pad practice this morning, but opted to go with helmets and shoulder pads tonight in a special teams, pass scale workout in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

"We got some needed work in," Cut said. "We needed to do some fine-tuning of our special teams operation - filling lanes in coverage, blocking schemes, etc. We also needed some pass scale work and got plenty of that tonight. Toward the end of practice, we got in some good Red Zone and 2-minute drill work. Things are falling into place. I thought we were crisper tonight than we were this morning. We looked a little leg weary this morning, but got our second wind tonight.

"I am pleased with the first week of fall camp. We've had good leadership and a good attitude. Are we ready to play a game yet? No, but we had a good week. We've still got a lot of work to do in a lot of areas, but if the kids will continue working hard and focusing and keeping a good attitude about things, we will be fine when the season rolls around."

Notes:

* The Rebel injured were six-strong tonight and were subjected to "Muscle Beach," a rigorous regimen of work by the strength & conditioning coaches that works everything but the injured parts of their bodies. "We are careful not to injure them any further, but we don't want them to get out of shape while they are healing, so we get them to do some exercises and lift some light weights rather than just standing around." The players say they would rather practice than go to Muscle Beach. Tonight's Muscle Beach attendees were: DE Cory Robinson - hamstring; WR Kerry Johnson - Hamstring; WR Mario Hill - hamstring; S Tavarus Horne - aggravated knee; CB Travis Johnson - groin pull; and LB Dontae Reed - hamstring. All are hoping to be back next week for two reasons - they want to get back to practice and they don't want to deal with Muscle Beach more than necessary.

* DE Corvelli Haynes has a groin problem right now, but he's trying to practice through it even though he is limited in what he can do.

* The part of the entrance tunnel under the stadium where the team will enter has been poured with concrete and looks very good. The concrete pad extends almost to the edge of the artificial turf in the stadium. We have been told it will be covered with turf that matches the field turf. . . . Little known fact and mostly useless info: From the new Rebel locker room in the IPF to the entrance of the stadium is nearly 200 yards. Nearly 100 of that will be in the tunnel that runs from the IPF to the edge of the stadium. Massive building.

* Running Backs Coach Arlington Nunn said he's got a little dilemma on his hands, but it's a good problem to have - snap distribution among the tailbacks. "Vashon is doing an excellent job and is number one, but Brandon Jacobs - who will play some fullback in the Memphis game due to Rick Razzano's absence - is also looking good. He's faster than he was in spring and is running hard. Freshman Alan Abrams is also doing a nice job. His blocking has improved quite a bit since spring and he's always been dangerous with the ball in his hands. And Marvin Vaughan is doing a nice job. He's good running the ball and his blocking is pretty good. I also can't forget Dawan Woods - he's had his bright moments too," Nunn said. "And in six weeks, we'll have Jamal (Pittman) back. I don't know if I have enough footballs to go around. It will work itself out, but we've got plenty of capable tailbacks, in my early opinion. It will sort itself out between now and the first game, and into the season, but right now I don't know how I'd distribute the carries."

* Rebel commitments J.D. Lawhorn, a WR from MUS in Memphis, and Blake McAdams, a punter from Ripley, TN, attended practice tonight.

* In Travis Johnson's absence, Nate Banks took the number one snaps with the defense at left corner. How did he do? He picked off one Micheal Spurlock pass on a long out with beautiful coverage. Nate is making a move for playing time.

* In Kerry Johnson's absence, Matt Pierce is getting all the reps he wants at the slot position. Tonight, he made some nice catches and held his own against the number one defense.

* The starters we will look at tonight are the linebackers - Rob Robertson and Brian Lester. Defensive Coordinator Chuck Driesbach, who also handles linebacker duties, said he is pleased with both at this point. "Rob is consistent, reliable and smart. He's also got deceptive speed and has gotten stronger. He's a quiet leader," Chuck noted. "Brian, so far, is having a good camp. He is improved since spring and has provided us with good leadership." Lester started coming on strong at the end of last spring. He is now 252 pounds and has gained back the confidence he lost during the season a year ago when he had an injured wrist. Patrick Willis is breathing down his neck for the starting slot, but thus far Brian seems to be accepting the challenge and holding his own. It's a long way until September 4, but at this point Brian and Rob are clearly the top LBs.

* The Rebs will practice tomorrow at 3:30 p.m., but Cutcliffe has not decided what type of practice he will hold - pads or not.

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