Practice Report: Monday night

Rebel Coach David Cutcliffe marveled at the weather - still unseasonably cool and crisp with low humidity - after Monday night's practice and then marveled, somewhat, about the Rebel defense.

"I don't know who ordered up this weather, but I hope it continues. This cool weather is helping us get a lot accomplished without wearing us out too badly," said Cutcliffe. "From an execution standpoint, the defense is doing a lot of things very well right now. They are setting the tone and the tempo. We have two big scrimmages this week and I'm hoping to see the offense play more competitively, but right now we aren't executing real well. We have to pick that up in a hurry. I'm anxious for the two tests later this week - Wednesday afternoon and Saturday morning."

Notes:

* The Rebs worked for a little over 2 hours in shoulder pads and helmets. Controlled contact along the line of scrimmage.

* The injury list is as follows: DT Daniel Booth - pulled calf muscle. On crutches tonight. No prediction on his return, but the trainers and doctors do not believe it's torn, jsut badly pulled. . . WR Kerry Johnson - out with a hamstring pull, but he did go through some half-speed drills. . . WR Mario Hill - ditto as Johnson. Getting better, just needs a little more time. Both have a chance to be back before Saturday's scrimmage. . . DE Cory Robinson - hamtring pull. No prediction on his return. . . S Tavarus Horne - out with knee problems. Had an MRI today. Awaiting results. . . CB Travis Johnson - groin. Missed Saturday and this morning, but returned tonight. Looked good in all drills. . .LB Dontae Reed, who has missed a few days with a hamstring pull, was also back at practice today. . . Freshman LB Reterio Brown missed this morning's practice and part of tonight's practice to attend a funeral, but he rejoined the team about 5 periods into the 13-period workout.

* The Rebs opened practice by goin over every detail of the kickof team - filling lanes, containment, taking on blocks, angles of pursuit, spacing, following ball flight, etc. DE Coach Marion Hobby is the coordinator of the kickoff team. Some of the players penciled in early for that team include Charles Clark, Brian Lester, Keith Houston, Patrick Willis and Iroko Ayodele. . . Right now, if we were betting, we'd bet on Jonathan Nichols being the kicker.

* The Winning Edge centered on correcting this morning's mistakes. "We had a good practice this morning," said OC John Latina, "but we made some mistakes. We can make this day special if we will focus on correcting those mistakes and focus on not making any more."

* In pass scale work, dime back B. Brown picked off a pass that deflected of WR Carlos Suggs' hands. With Johnson and Hill out, some younger players - like Suggs, Frank Clayton and Mico McSwain have been pressed into top six duty. McSwain doesn't know much about playing wide receiver, but he's got very good hands and is athletic and, at times, acrobatic. Outstanding athlete with good range. He's getting better every day.

* In pass pro/pass rush drills today, everyone got a little shock when freshman Maurice Miller effectively blocked DT Michael Bozeman, who bullrushed the youngster, then tried back-to-back spin moves on the rookie. Maurice met them all with a stiff shiver and controlled the play. Maurice is not in the greatest of shape, but he's got a future at Ole Miss that, based on his feet and sheer size and strength, is promising.

* With the injury absences, players like RS frosh Viciente DeLoach is getting some valuable reps at number one RDE. The number one OL schooled him a couple of times tonight, but Viciente hung tough and will get better for the experience. With Booth out and McKinley Boykin still being cautious with his comback, Andrew Wicker, Bozeman, Jeremy Garrett and Chris Herring are getting valuable reps against the one and two OLs, respectively. Garrett and Herring are an excellent combo for the future and Herring will be ready to contribute a great deal this year. Both are quick and explosive and hard to block one-on-one.

* JUCO DE Corvelli Haynes is slowly coming back from a groin injury and got some action tonight at the number 2 RDE behind DeLoach. In one series, he had a QB sack of Robert Lane with a nice inside move. If he can stay healthy, he will help, but he's already missed a lot of needed technique and recognition work.

* TB Alan Abrams made a dazzling move tonight in traffic that illustrates his uncanny vision. On a dive play up the middle, Alan cut right but saw no hole. He instantly cut back left behind a wall of offensive linemen into a clearing for a big gain against the grain of pursuit. It was so quick, it almost went unnoticed, but RB Coach Arlington Nunn saw and appreciated the magnitude of the run. Abrams, as we've said all along, just has a special vision, instinct and knack for making the right move at the right time.

* Offensive Coordinator John Latina is not unhappy, but he's not jumping for joy either when discussing the offense to this point in August. "We are making plays that give me a lot of hope, but we are also hit or miss. The first OL is doing a nice job, but our passing game operation has been erratic. I think the fact that Kerry and Mario have been out is hurting us some, but we've also had some dropped passes we have to get out of our system. Tonight, in the two-minute drill, we dropped a couple that should have kept the chains moving. We have to get that corrected. We really need more consistency across the board with the first unit. Good offenses, like we did several times last year, can make 14-play 80-yard drives once or twice a game. I have not seen us put together that type of drive this August. We need to strong a few of those up on the defense," he assessed. "The number two offense is kind of feeling its way. We have a lot of new players to that level and they look a little confused at times, but their effort and focus is real good and that will help down the road. We are putting both units under a lot of pressure to see how they will react. We will be fine in time, but I want to start seeing more results by the end of Saturday's scrimmage."

* The Rebs will practice tomorrow at 3:45 p.m. in full pads.

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