Practice Report: Wednesday

The Rebels practiced in helmets and shoulder pads today and had a spirited, intense workout. Coach David Cutcliffe was pleased with the results, but he can't get his mind off the walking wounded. Add DE Jayme Mitchell to the injury list. He sprained his knee late in practice yesterday. He finished practice but could not go today.

"We had some great football weather today (overcast, temperature in the 50s) and we got a lot done. The team was focused and tuned in, but I have some major concerns about how beat up we are," Cut said. "We don't have any major injuries, but we have a lot of kids hobbled. Some will be able to play Saturday, some won't. Being in limbo on all of them - the not knowing - keeps me edgy. All of them have a chance to be ready - not 100% but ready - by Saturday, but we just don't know which ones actually will be. I think we will get a better idea tomorrow.

"We did a lot of third down work today, on both sides of the ball. As I said Monday, we have been giving up too much yardage on third down on defense and we have not been converting enough third downs on offense. We have to convert more third downs Saturday to keep Tennessee's high-powered offense off the field and to score some points. We have worked those situations hard and we'll see Saturday if the work has paid off."


* From what we saw today in practice, the three-quarterback system used against South Carolina seems likely against Tennessee. All three are getting quality snaps and all three have looked effective. Robert Lane hit Taye Biddle today with an 80-yard bomb that went about 60-65 yards in the air and never made Taye break stride. Ethan Flatt threw a 45-yard bomb to Mario Hill that was also on the money. Micheal Spurlock was on target with the intermediate routes and long outs.

* As is the case every Wednesday, TE Coach Matt Luke gave an emotional "Winning Edge" speech to the entire team prior to practice. He went back to a theme that lit the team up last year - "Put the ball down." "Everybody says we have no chance - put the ball down and let's see. Everybody thinks Tennessee is going to come into our house and run us off our own field - put the ball down and let's see. We are in a one-game season - we are off next week. It's time to put the ball down and play.". . . Needless to say, the "speech" was met with a team-wide roar.

* With WR Mike Espy still hobbled on his sprained ankle, B. Brown, Larry Kendrick and B. Brown fielded most of the punts today and B. and L.K. were deep in kickoff return formations. Espy said he's better but his ankle is still stiff and sore. He was favoring it some today in practice and was limited in his work.

* DT Chris Herring was allowed to test his calf today in some pass rush drills and in inside team work. He seemed fairly effective and was not favoring the leg. His status is still uncertain but today was certainly much better than he's been in the last three weeks or so. Cross your fingers for a good day tomorrow for Chris.

* PK Jonathan Nichols is still in a boot, resting his bruised toe. He will handle field goal and PATs Saturday, but did not kick today. Backup P Wesley Bryan will handle Nichols' kickoff duties.

* FB Rick Razzano said his bruised thigh is getting better every day. He said he will be fine Saturday, but he's been practicing in a yellow jersey all week.

* SS Kelvin Robinson rested his sprained shoulder again today by wearing a yellow jersey and staying away from all contact. Kelvin is also expected to play, but he said he is still stiff and sore in his right shoulder.

* OT Tre' Stallings looked better today on his sprained ankle and did not miss any number one reps. Two more days of treatment and the light work tomorrow should allow him to heal even more by Saturday. He's expected to play. If Tre' cannot go, look for Tony Bonds to move into the right guard slot and RG Marcus Johnson to move to right tackle.

* LG Doug Buckles missed a good bit of the last two days with a sore back, but he returned today and went through all drills and did not miss any snaps. As a precaution, however, James McCoy worked some with the number one line at LG today.

* DE Corvelli Haynes was in a yellow jersey today also, resting his sore shoulder. With Mitchell and Corey Mills also on the sidelines, some shuffling has taken place at the DE slots. Brandon Jenkins was running with the number one defense in Mitchell's place at left end. Dedrick Clark, who had been helping out at DT while Herring and Booth were out, moved back to left end and was backing up Jenkins. On the right side, freshman Chris Bowers, who was expected to redshirt this year, was pressed into varsity duty backing up Cory Robinson. If Haynes cannot go, either Bowers or RS frosh Viciente DeLoach will have to play against UT.

* TB Jamal Pittman got several snaps in the main rotation with four other TBs - Vashon Pearson, Alan Abrams, Brandon Jacobs and Marvin Vaughan. Cutcliffe said he doesn't know how ready Jamal will be this week, but he's done some good things in his limited reps. "Jamal has been hobbled with a hamstring, but seems to be OK now. We hope to use him, but at this point we are uncertain," Cut noted.

* C Chris Spencer and UT DE Parys Harralson are distant cousins and very close friends. Spencer is looking forward to facing his buddy Saturday night and thinks there will be instances where they meet helmet-to-helmet. "We grew up together. He's a great guy from a great family. We are close. Parys is also a fantastic athlete," smiled Spencer. "He plays on the edge, but they do some things where he loops underneath into the A gap and that will be my responsibility some of the time. I'm looking forward to that. We went against each other in high school. He's a real challenge, but that's what SEC football is all about." Spencer said UT's DL is "very aggressive." "They remind me of Auburn last year. Their front seven attacks most of the time - they are upfield players. They come off the ball like offensive linemen, try to penetrate and create havoc with your running game," he continued. "We've got our hands full, but this is what we play for - opportunities like this."

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