Practice Report: Rebs get in regular routine

With two-a-days officially over, and classes starting up at Ole Miss, the football team began its regular season routine today with an afternoon practice that included the first installation of some of the gameplan for Memphis, who will invade Oxford September 4.

The full-pad practice was toned down just a shade in tempo physically, but the mental tempo was extremely intense as the coaches started giving the team bits and pieces of the Memphis gameplan.

Practice was held on the practice fields under overcast skies with light rain coming the last period. The Rebs, who were suffering from a case of fatigue last week, seemed fresh and rested after not having to practice since Saturday morning's scrimmage.

"We are still working on us getting better, but we opted to get a little bit of what Memphis likes to do on both sides of the ball into practice today just to get a little headstart on game week," said Coach David Cutcliffe. "It was good to see a few players back from injury, even though some of them still aren't full speed. We worked fundamentals early in the practice and then put in some mental work. We kept a fast tempo, but we also took time to teach and explain."

Offensive Coordinator John Latina was fairly harsh Saturday in his first impression comments about the scrimmage, but after viewing the films of the workout, he had somewhat of a change of heart.

"The film proved me a little wrong. Our effort was better than I thought and our execution was better than I originally assessed," said Lats. "Our ones did a lot of good things, including having a more consistent effort than we did in Wednesday's scrimmage. It shows on film that they are understanding what we want them to do and they did their best to do it. The twos have improved as well, but they still have a way to go. I was pleased that some of the twos have put themselves in position to give us some quality depth, but they need to keep digging and we need to get the rest of the twos and some threes headed in the direction the others are headed in. I think I was perturbed Saturday because we had three or four offsides penalties and most of them originated at the line of scrimmage, but we will get those corrected. Overall, we were crisper and sharper than I thought we were."

Defensive Coordinator Chuck Driesbach mentioned improvement Saturday and did not back off that stance after viewing and grading the films over the weekend.

"We made improvement. It was evident on film. We did a better job with our assignments and our fits. And for a 114-snap scrimmage at the end of two-a-days, I was pleased with the way the guys moved around," Chuck stated. "I was disappointed in some base things we did not do that should be second nature to us, but overall I'd give us good marks. Individually, I think backup SS Iroko Ayodele made a statement in that scrimmage that he can be trusted to give us quality snaps. I thought backup CB Nate Banks also showed a big-play ability and appears to be getting it now. Backup WS Larry Kendrick also continued to make big plays. And our overall tackling, which I wasn't real pleased with in Wednesday's scrimmage was much better. Sometimes it's hard to grade tackling against a zone blocking scheme because you see a mass of humanity setting up a wall and a back kind of picking his way. In iso schemes, there is usually more of a collision and you can grade tackling better, but we did a good job regardless Saturday."

Notes:

* Roughly 20-22 newcomers joined the team today - either walkons from last year who did not report with the original 105 in August or new walkons. Even though they are not required to, they will probably go through two days of shorts, two days of shoulder pads and then be given full gear for contact work.

* The awaited return of TB Jamal Pittman, who did not report with the rest of the team in early August due to off-the-field difficulties, came about today. Jamal looked happy and relieved to be back "home." "I thought today would never get here," he smiled. "I'm pretty good right now - physically, mentally and spiritually. It's great to be back. I can't wait to get in pads even though I will probably have to do some scout team work for a little while.". . . Jamal looked physically fit and ready to go.

* The injury report lightened up a bit today: FB Rick Razzano - concussion, was dressed out but was in a yellow jersey meaning no contact. He expects to be back full speed tomorrow if he continues improving. . . DT Andrew Wicker - toe injury, dressed out and tried to go, but had to be pulled out midway through practice. He will be rested the next couple of days and will try to come back later this week. . . OG Doug Buckles - concussion, back at practice today, but limited in contact work. Should be fine tomorrow. . . DE Corey Mills - neck muscle pull, dressed out today, but was in a yellow jersey. . . DE Cory Robinson - hamstring, dressed out today and went through all drills. . . WR Kerry Johnson - hamstring, dressed out today and said he's about 85%. Went through all non-contact drills full speed. . . WR Mario Hill - hamstring, back full speed today and went through most of the scrimmage Saturday. . . WR Cameron Myers - tendonitis in knee, did not practice today. . . DT Daniel Booth - calf muscle pull, did not practice today, but worked out on his own with his starts and cutting. Said he is "much better" and expects to be back later this week.

* Freshman OL Tim Henderson hasn't been on campus long, but he's proud of what he's accomplished thus far in terms of weight control. He reported back in July at 352 pounds. He's now down to 323 and feels good about himself. "My movement is much better. I'm in better shape and my body is responding to these practices," he noted. "My goal is to get to 315 pounds, but I don't think that will be a problem now. The hard part is behind me.". . . Freshman OL Maurice Miller is also making progress, but not as quickly as Tim. Maurice reported this summer at 360 pounds. He's down to 346. He also said he can tell a difference and is motivated to keep shedding the pounds to become a more effective football player.

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

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