Practice Report: Tuesday

Coach David Cutcliffe would like to be able to skip full contact practices this deep into the season due to the injury situation, but the Rebs have not been playing the physical brand of football all involved feel they are capable of playing. South Carolina is extremely physical, hence the need to get in some contact work before making the trip to Columbia.

Coach David Cutcliffe held a two-hour full contact practice today, but he would have preferred not to.

"We are pretty deep into the season to still be going with full contact when we have had as many players injured as we have, but we didn't think we had any choice," said Cut. "South Carolina is going to come right at us and we have to be prepared for war. I haven't been happy with the physicality of our team to this point. We've had spurts, but we haven't been consistent. Until we get consistent, we will continue to hit in practice."

Cutcliffe said it was good to get WR Mike Espy (sprained ankle) and C Chris Spencer (heel/ankle) back on the practice field even though Chris did not go through a lot of full contact work.

Cutcliffe also noted that Larry Kendrick has been moved to wide receiver full time. "We just feel that's where his future is. He has a lot to learn, but he has very good skills and will help us there. I can't say when, but he will help," Cut noted.

PK Jonathan Nichols was in a walking boot today and did not kick again as he rests a bruised big toe on his kicking foot. Nichols is expected to kick placements against South Carolina, but there is a possibility either Hunter Bray or Wesley Bryan will handle kickoff chores. Bryan kicked the ball deeper in practice today - a couple of yards deep in the end zone - but Bray was kicking off nearly as high as a punt down to the goalline. Cut said he wasn't sure who would handle the kickoff chores, but he was pleased with his three candidates - Nichols, Bray, Bryan.

Cutcliffe has been saying for two weeks the Rebs were looking at different things to give them a spark. Today, it appeared they were working on 10-12 new plays to see how the players reacted to them. The execution was sporadic, but the plays seemed to have some potential and had a distinctly different look to them. Obviously, we aren't at liberty to discuss them. "We need a spark on offense. We have dissected everything we have been doing the last couple of weeks and decided to try to install some different looks," he noted. "How much we will use them will depend on our execution in practice - whether or not the players are comfortable and executing what we have come up with."

WR Bill Flowers returned to practice full speed today, but he was in a yellow jersey signifying no contact. Bill looks very good after missing a couple of weeks with a lacerated kidney. He will play against SC.

DT Chris Herring (pulled calf muscle) did not practice today and he is doubtful for the SC game. He aggravated his injury last Wednesday and it has not responded well to treatment to this point, Chris said.

With Nichols out, PKs Matt Hinkle and Hunter Bray were good on all five field goal attempts today in live field goal work.

Espy did all wide receiver work today, but he did not field punts during punt drills. Matt Pierce and Mico McSwain handled those duties. Since Mico is a likely redshirt, if Mike is not able to return punts Saturday, Pierce is likely to inherit the job unless B. Brown gets some work there tomorrow. The odds are, however, that Mike will return punts.

TB Jamal Pittman did not practice today after pulling a hamstring yesterday in his first duty with the varsity since his suspension. No word on when a return is expected.

In a motivational twist this week, a different senior is giving the "Winning Edge" talk each day to the defense. Today, Captain Eric Oliver delivered the message. It was short and in low tones, but it got a good response, whatever #38 said.

The Rebels worked with crowd noise today piped in by four stereo speakers. It was blaring a rooster crowing and the SC fight song.

CB Trumaine McBride sustained a swollen left eye today when his helmet slid down over his eye just before contact in a tackling drill. It was nearly swollen shut and he had to sit out the remainder of practice. He should be OK tomorrow.

The Rebs did not look real sharp throwing and catching the ball today. When the quarterbacks would deliver the ball, the receivers had the drops. Then there were times when all three QBs were off target. Some of that was the timing from the new plays that have been installed.

The Rebs wrapped up practice with wind sprints for conditioning, like they do every Tuesday.

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