Practice Report: Rebs still seeking improvement

The Rebs worked in shoulder pads and helmets today with controlled contact. Cutcliffe met the media gathering post-practice with a smile on his face except for one injury incident to backup OT James Campbell involving his neck that was scary.

"First of all, we had a scary incident with James Campbell today. He sustained a neck injury and experienced some weakness in his limbs. He was calm, responsive, moving and he was never unconscious, but we hope everything will test out OK," said Cut. "We sent him to the hospital for tests and to be real careful. Neck injuries are nothing to mess around with. I didn't see it happen so I don't know the circumstances, but we are hoping for the best.

"Concerning practice, we were pretty good today. Our offensive focus was good yesterday and it was even better today. I think we have some players who are anxious to prove themselves after last Saturday and they are working hard to do so in practice. We were really crisp at the end of practice on both sides of the ball in team work.

Cutcliffe said QB Micheal Spurlock has gone in the direction he had hoped. "We talked to him about slowing things down and he's worked hard on that aspect of his game," Cut continued. "He's watched himself on film and has seen what he was doing. He's now in the process of correcting it."

* QB Coach Kurt Roper said he would reserve his opinion of Mike's progress until after Saturday. "Mike is putting in the effort to improve, he's a hard worker and he's doing his best to get there, but no matter how hard you try to simulate a game in practice, you can't do it," he explained. "Micheal got 64 game reps against Memphis. What we are counting on is that he's 64 reps better, 64 reps wiser, 64 reps more settled. We will find out Saturday."

* Injury update: OL James Campbell (neck injury)- extent not known at this time, but all the early signs are positive for a full recovery. . . WR Kerry Johnson (broken hand) - Kerry believes there is an outside chance he could play against Alabama, even though he has not practiced this week after having hand surgery Monday morning. . . DT Daniel Booth (pulled calf muscle) - Booth dressed out today, but he's still limited in his work. He said he's better but "not as far along as I had hoped." Cut listed him as "doubtful" for the Alabama game. . . OT Bobby Harris (sprained ankle) returned to practice today in a yellow jersey, signifying no contact. He was not limping, but he was favoring the injured ankle. It was hard to get a feeling one way or the other on Bobby today. Cut said he's still doubtful, but he has made significant improvement since Sunday. . . FS B. Brown injured his calf muscle yesterday late in practice and was held out today. He dressed out and tried to go, but could not. No word on his status for Saturday's game. . . OL Maurice Miller (chest conjestion/asthma) was still out today. . . TB Jamal Pittman (hamstring) was still out today.

* Early in practice, we overheard the OL coaches - John Latina and Matt Luke - praising the progress of backup LG James McCoy. McCoy was greeted with "good day yesterday" and "you're getting closer" comments today. His development is needed badly. We'll see if the praise was warranted in terms of getting himself in a position to play in games.

* Will Mosely is a walkon PK from East Mississippi CC who joined the team the first day of classes in mid-August. His accuracy and consistency is not where you would want it, but he has a cannon for a leg on kickoffs - when he hits the ball squarely. Today, he hit the crossbars with a kickoff.

* TE Coach Matt Luke gave the traditional fire-and-brimstone winning edge today. "Heart and emotion" was the theme. "You are going to be playing in front of 85,000 people in Tuscaloosa and hardly anyone in the whole stadium will be on your side," Luke said. "To win in that kind of atmosphere, you have to play with heart and emotion. Sure, you have to know what to do, but you have to do it with heart and emotion. That will be the bottom line Saturday. Do you have it? The Ole Miss team I know doesn't know any other way to play. Heart and emotion."

* The Rebs always spend a lot of time on the running game in every practice. Today, they spent even more working against Alabama defensive front looks. The battle cry of the OL today was "prima donnas" in reference to an article in this morning's paper. It appeared to light a fire under them and was their motivational tool for the day.

* QBs Robert Lane and Ethan Flatt each got substantial reps today with the number two offense. It appears Ethan is still number two, but that Robert has closed the gap based on the reps each are getting. Neither got reps with the first unit.

* The number two defense was slightly tweaked today by DE Coach Marion Hobby. Last week, Left DE was manned by Jayme Mitchell and Corey Mills. Right DE was Cory Robinson and Corvelli Haynes. Today, the number two DEs were Brandon Jenkins on the left side and Corey Mills on the right side. Hmmmmmm. . . maybe Jenkins is ready to get on the field and show his stuff. Hopefully, that is true.

* There has been a lot of talk about Spurlock "slowing down." From our cheap seat on the sidelines, it appears he has. His execution the last couple of days has appeared - to an untrained eye - much better and much more fluid. Like the coaches, I have no clue how that is going to translate into his execution Saturday, but Cutcliffe is a firm believer in the old saying "you play the way you practice." If that holds true with Micheal, he'll be a different player against the Tide.

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