"We didn't have a bad practice yesterday, but it could have been a lot better, and it needed to be better considering what we are facing this Saturday," Cutcliffe noted after today's work, "but the kids made up for it today with a real good workout. It was good to get back on the practice fields where we had more room to operate. Due to recent rain, the practice fields were too wet last week and Monday, but they were fine today."
The Rebels - due to getting in a lot of individual work during the open week - have broken from tradition a bit this week and gone straight into repetition of the gameplan. Cutcliffe said not having to spend as much time on individual drills this week should help in execution Saturday.
"Against a team like Auburn, or any SEC team for that matter, execution and doing things correctly will be very important. With another open week following the Auburn game, we are treating this game as a one-game season. We got a lot of individual and technique work done last week so this week we are spending our time doing extra reps within the framework of our gameplan," he explained. "We believe the extra reps may help us get out of the gate quicker. Other than the South Carolina game, we have started slowly in games this year. We can't afford to do that against the number 4 team in the nation. If you let them get on a roll and get their momentum up, they can bury anyone in the country."
One of Cut's big concerns is that Auburn leads the SEC in quarterback sacks and the Rebs have given up more sacks than they have in the past few years.
"We are very aware of their pass rush and have worked hard on that phase of the game. Auburn is one of those rare teams that is athletic enough to get good pressure with their front four, but they also have a very good blitz package and will use it liberally if they feel they need to. We will have to do a better job protecting our quarterbacks than we did against Tennessee. That is a big priority for us this week - working out those kinks that popped up against the Vols," he assessed.
The Rebels began practice by visiting the "graveyard" between the top two practice fields and planting some turf from South Carolina's field. The USC "tombstone" will be put in place later. The Rebs have a tradition of planting some grass off the field of road victims and planting a small tombstone with the score of any Rebel road wins.
During the "burial ceremony," Cutcliffe announced to the team that senior LB Rob Robertson has been accepted to The University of Mississippi Medical School in Jackson next fall.
The coaches normally set up a big PA/stereo system for crowd noise simulation for road games, but this week they called for the same affect by playing "Eye of the Tiger" over and over during stretch and the early part of practice.
The injury situation remains "OK," even though RT Tre' Stallings tweaked his injured left ankle a little today late in practice. Tre' is expected to be fine by kickoff, but we are not sure how much more practicing he will do this week.
PK Jonathan Nichols (bruised toe) practiced full speed today and looked like he's regaining his health and his deadly accuracy.
FB Anthony Hobgood (concussion) was in a yellow jersey again today. Trainer Tim Mullins is giving Anthony a little more time to heal because he has had multiple concussions in the past and there is no need taking a chance with him since he has not been in the playing rotation the past few games.
Freshman LB Reterio Brown pulled a calf muscle today, but we don't know the extent of the injury yet.
DE Corey Mills (groin) did not practice and appears to be out for the remainder of the year. The Rebs are, hopefully, going to get a medical redshirt for him.
CB Bryant Thomas (hamstring) did not practice today, but he expects to try to go tomorrow. That was his hope as practiced ended today.
DE Chris Herring (calf muscle), WR Mike Espy (ankle), LT Bobby Harris (ankle), and C Chris Spencer (back) are all close to 100% and all practiced full speed yesterday and today.
TB Jamal Pittman got a lot of extra reps today in the Rebs running game drills and looks to be moving very well. The rebs will definitely test their power game this weekend and Jamal could play a hand in that portion of their attack.
The quarterback situation remained somewhat the same as yesterday, with Ethan Flatt and Robert Lane getting most of the number one snaps and Micheal Spurlock working more with the twos than the ones. All three are exepcted to play, but the anticipation we have is for Lane's number to be called a lot more than it was against UT.
Defensive Coordinator Chuck Driesbach said when he looks at tape on Auburn he sees a team "nobody is stopping." "LSU did a real good job because their O's are as good as Auburn's X's," he said. "LSU did a great job of tackling and of getting off blocks. They didn't allow Auburn to scheme them too much. Our key is to make sure we play our assignments, cover our gaps and play old-fashioned hard-nosed football. You have to tackle these guys and you can't let their receivers run free. They do a nice job of getting themselves in mismatches. They get yardage in chunks and that's what we have to find a way to prevent, even though the big play has been our Achilles heel this year."
For the first time this year, that we can recall, DT Coach Rick Petri will have a full rotation of six healthy players. Micheal Bozeman, McKinley Boykin, Daniel Booth, Andrew Wicker, Chris Herring and Jeremy Garrett are all healthy and available to take on a rugged Auburn OL. "That's important because Auburn is big and active up front and it will be vital for us to stay fresh. They are the kind of OL that can wear you down if you don't rotate in some kids and that's when they start breaking off long runs and blowing games open," Petri explained.
In skeleton (no pass rush) passing drills, the wide receivers and secondary players had a spirited give-and-take session. One player who was apparent was WR Larry Kendrick, who appears to be getting the knack of playing wide receiver on this level.
At the linebacker slots, it appears sophomore Patrick Willis and freshman Garry Pack are now getting as many reps as starters Rob Robertson and Brian Lester.
Tuesday practice report
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