Practice Report: Quarterback watch continues

Early in practice today, the Rebel quarterbacks and receivers put on an aerial show that raised the hopes of everyone involved, but the Rebs did not finish the practice as crisply as Coach David Cutcliffe would have liked.

"We started well and had some good, positive work in the passing game, but I thought we gave in some at the end," said Cut. "We have a lot of people banged up and bruised up and I thought we succumbed to that some. Tuesday is our only day of full pads and while some of it was good, we need to be good for two hours. And we weren't.

"Vanderbilt has a veteran team that will be hungry for a win and will see us as an opportunity for that with the way we have started the season. We did not take full advantage of today's preparation the way we should have. We'll have to make up for it tomorrow."

* Injury Report: LG Doug Buckles (sprained knee) practiced today in full pads. He was in a yellow jersey yesterday, but was in a regular jersey today and went through all drills. . . DT Daniel Booth (calf pull) went through all drills full speed today. DT Coach Rick Petri said Daniel is "about 90%, but getting better every day.". . . LT Bobby Harris (ankle sprain) was in a yellow jersey today. He did not work in contact drills, but he did say he felt a little better today. He does not have an indication on his status for Saturday's game now, but he's encouraged with his improvement. . . DT Chris Herring (calf muscle pull) did not practice today and is doubtful for Saturday. . . S B. Brown (pulled calf muscle) did not practice today, but said he felt better and will try to practice tomorrow, if possible. . . WR Taye Biddle (bruised quad muscle) did not dress in pads today, but went through some of the non-contact drills. He said he is "better.". . . DT Michael Bozeman (concussion) did not practice today, but he hopes to be back Thursday. . . WR Kerry Johnson (broken hand) practiced full speed today. . . TB Jamal Pittman (hamstring pull) practiced full speed today. . . OL James Campbell (concussion/neck) tried to come back today, but was still too sore to go. He said he will try against tomorrow.

* Tb Vashon Pearson said the Rebel rushing game is "close, real close" to popping some bigger gains. "We are getting some good holes to run through, but we just haven't popped one out cleanly yet," said Pearson. "Against Alabama, I made the wrong cut thinking I could get through a small area. If I had cut the other way, I had a big gain. We had a nice gain called back and we missed a couple of second-level blocks that could have turned a 5-yarder into a big gainer. I think we will ahve some this weekend - we are very close in the running game. You can see it on film."

* For the second day in a row, due to the three injuries at DT, DE Dedrick Clark has practiced at defensive tackle. Whether or not that will stick, nobody knows right now, but he's there for the time being.

* The wide receivers appeared to come out with a different level of motivation today. In one-on-one pass scale drills, they ate up the DBs. Their routes were crisp and precise and they were catching everything thrown. The QBs were also on time and on target. Ethan Flatt, the likely starter, threw the ball better than he has all August, and backup Micheal Spurlock took his lead with a lot of really nice throws, including some where he needed to take some velocity off and use more touch. Robert Lane also had some moments of brilliance.

* Some of the coaches "put the hammer down" on the players late in the practice when things got a little sloppy. It wasn't brow-beating, but it was stern and left no doubt that sloppy play would not be tolerated. There were some get-in-their-faces moments that seemed to help. That is not normally Cut's style or the style of his staff, but several times a year, when it's needed, that different personality comes out. Today it was needed, today it came out.

* Starting LB Brian Lester pulled an abdominal muscle midway through practice and had to sit out. In his absence, Patrick Willis took all number one snaps from that point on. Willis is primed for a start, or at the very least extensive playing time. His speed and pursuit is evident, even to the casual observer.

* Freshman DE Corey Mills appears to be getting number two snaps on both sides of the defense. He's number two behind Jayme Mitchell on the left side and today he also got number two snaps being Cory Robinson on the right side. When Corey moves to the right side, Brandon Jenkins - who has apparently shown improvement in the last two weeks - gets the number two snaps on the left side. Both appear to be making a favorable impression on DE Coach Marion Hobby.

* Ethan Flatt said he learned a lot from the experience of playing in Bryant-Denny Stadium. "I was comfortable out there, but I was not as effective as I would have liked," said the thoughtful sophomore. "For one thing, I need to be louder in my signal-calling and in the huddle. I also didn't do as well as I should have in handling the blitz. I saw it and felt it, but I didn't hit the open receiver a couple of times when I was under pressure. A couple of times I did, but you have to make a defense pay when you see it coming and know where the receiver is going to be open.". . . Flatt said he felt all along that one day he'd get an opportunity, but he's not about to declare QB his job. "I always believed I'd work myself into getting a chance, but I realize this is a small window of opportunity and I have to make the most of it," he continued. "I didn't want the door to be opened the way it was, at Micheal's expense, but I have no control over that. Now that the door is open, all I can do is go out there and try to perform." He said he and Micheal are cool with the decision. "Micheal is going to get to play. We talked yesterday and we both said we are in this thing together and we are both going to be pulling for each other and helping each other," Flatt ended. "We just want to win. We are both competitive and want to play, but winning is more important to both of us. I'm proud the coaches have confidence in me and I will do my best not to let anyone down." Ethan is from Nashville, but isn't concerned about it being Vandy he will be getting his first start against. "As I said, we just need a win, in the worst way. It doesn't matter who we are playing, we have to stop this skid now.". . . Flatt and WR Bill Flowers spent about 15 minutes after practice working on throws and routes.

* As has become kind of a Tuesday tradition, the secondary personnel stayed after practice about 15 minutes to do some fine-tuning and polishing of their assignments versus Vandy's passing schemes. It appears the coaches are continuing to work S Larry Kendrick more and more into the mix. We shall see.

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