Practice Report: Rebs crank it up again

One thing that has been telling about the Ole Miss Rebel football team this year has been their lack of consistency, in games and in practices. This week has been different. Coach David Cutcliffe said after Wednesday's workout that it's been the best back-to-back-to-back practices of the year.

"This is the best three days in a row we have had," said Cutcliffe. "Like I said yesterday, now it's up to us to transfer this good work to a game. We went in pads an extra day this week and the kids responded well because they are frustrated and want to win. We are all frustrated and want to do whatever it takes to turn this thing around. The last three days was a good start to that end."

* In an emotional Winning Edge "talk" prior to practice today, TE/OT Coach Matt Luke focused on the 2004 Rebels. "Last year is over. This season is about us - the 2004 Rebels. It's not 2003. It's 2004 and so far it hasn't been a lot of fun. I'm sick of it - we're all sick of it. Starting today, we are going to do something about it.". . Obviously, the reaction was pretty positive as the practice was spirited and heated. Despite being in just shoulder pads and helmets, the controlled contact was sharp and crisp - a lot of leather popping, a lot of enthusiasm.

* Today was a day of reps, reps and more reps. Some of the reps got downright nasty. On one, OG Doug Buckles pancaked a defensive lineman and was mobbed by the rest of the offense. Everyone on the first three teams got a lot of snaps today.

* With a lot of people clamoring for Robert Lane to get his shot to play this week, we spoke to the redshirt freshman. Here's what he had to say: "All I care about is us winning. Sure, I want to play, but the coaches know best. I'm working hard to get my opportunity and if it comes up I will do my best," he said. "I will do anything for us to win - wide receiver, linebacker, quarterback, I don't care. We are all competing hard to be the number one quarterback and we are all getting a fair look. We are good friends off the field and nobody is complaining about the way things have gone - we just want to do better and win.". . . Robert worked a lot today against the number one defense with the number two offense. He did a nice job and made some plays.

* It appears that Patrick Willis and Garry Pack have now made it a four-man rotation at linebacker in terms of quality playing time. Pack is playing behind Brian Lester and Willis is behind Rob Robertson, but in practice today all four got basically equal reps and all four worked with the number one defense and the number two defense.

* Larry Kendrick and Edwin Gelin continued to get reps on both sides of the ball. Kendrick is making some headway at wide receiver. "We just started the process with him, but he's got a lot of ability there. I don't know how close he is to playing at wideout, but he's getting closer on a daily basis," said Cut. "He knows he has a lot to learn, but his athletic skills are evident."

* Yesterday, backup OG James McCoy pulled on a running play and hammered LB Patrick Willis. He drew a lot of pats on the back and congratulations. He continued along those lines today, doing well in pass protection drills and in running game drills. His development is needed and good to see. The light bulb may not be completely on yet, but it's flickering.

* It appears the competition between the running backs has stiffened. With Vashon Pearson going over 100 yards in both of the last two games, it seems as if Alan Abrams and Brandon Jacobs have picked things up so as not to be left in his dust. And with Abrams and Jacobs picking up the pace in practice, it's pushed Vashon to greater heights. Pretty good situation developing there.

* Several players were in yellow jerseys today. . . . WR Mario Hill (bruised ribs) will play Saturday. . . DT Jeremy Garrett (shoulder injury) said he's not getting any better right now. He's a -wait-and-see. . . DT Chris Herring (pulled calf muscle) tried to go some today, but aggravated the injury some. He's doubtful for Saturday. . . DT Daniel Booth (pulled calf muscle) started out today in a yellow jersey but shed it about midway through the practice and got some reps in the DT rotation today. Cross your fingers on his prognosis for Saturday. It looks like we may see the first of Daniel this year. . . CB Nate Banks (minor knee) was in yellow but practiced in some full speed reps. He thinks he will be available Saturday. . . CB Travis Johnson (minor knee) said he is much better and practiced full speed today. He said he's not 100%, but he's close. . . WR Bill Flowers (lacerated kidney) was not in pads today, but he ran some routes with the receivers and said he feels "perfect." No soreness, no pain, but it's doubtful he will play against A-State.

* With LT Bobby Harris back, the OL will go back to the original starting lineup of LT Harris, LG Doug Buckles, C Chris Spencer, RG Marcus Johnson and RT Tre' Stallings. While Tony Bonds did a good job filling in for Harris as one of the starters, the coaches still believe the original starting lineup is the best lineup the Rebs have on the offensive forward wall. Good to see them back together.

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