Wednesday practice report

The Ole Miss coaching staff believes precise execution on both sides of the ball is one way to offset the highly-ranked Auburn Tigers this Saturday in Oxford. To that end, practices this week have been intense crash courses in repetition after repetition.

Ole Miss practiced in shorts and helmets today, but even without contact the session was as intense as any contact day due to the amount of full-speed reps run.

"We took the pads off today because we need to be fresh as we head into this critical game," said Coach David Cutcliffe. "Due to the open week last week, we are a day ahead in our preparations. We treated today like a normal Thursday practice, which is a heavy rep day. We will do the same tomorrow.

"It is imperative against a team as athletically talented as Auburn is to do things the right way - follow your assignments, use good technique, play with good pad leverage, minimize busts and limit mistakes. If we do a better job at those things, anything can happen."

Senior FS Eric Oliver is looking forward to facing the Tigers.

"I'm from Alabama, so this game has some special meaning to me," he said. "We were undefeated against Alabama and Auburn last year, but we are 0-1 this year. We don't intend to be 0-2, but they present a lot of problems on offense. They have the best tandem of backs in America. To beat them you have to play flawless assignment football. You have to fill every gap and play smart fundamental football. We expect them to try to balance things up. They like to run to set up the pass, but it wouldn't surprise me to see them do the opposite against us. This will be my last shot at an Alabama team and I intend to make the most of it."

The Rebels worked extra today on Red Zone offense and Red Zone defense.

"You have to make your opportunities count in games like these. We didn't do a good job of putting points up when we had chances against Tennessee. That has to end for us to succeed," Cut said. "We also have not done a good enough job in the Red Zone on defense. We need to make some stops that takes the wind out of their sails. I know everything we are talking about today is elementary football, but as mundane as it sounds, that's what it will take to beat Auburn. Good, solid, smart football."

TE/OT Coach Matt Luke appealed to the Rebs' pride in today's Winning Edge talk. "You have heard what everyone is saying - that Auburn is going to come in here and run you off your own field. If you play with one mind and one heart, you will win," he said emphatically.

As has been the case all week, Ethan Flatt and Robert Lane are getting most of the reps with the number one offense while Micheal Spurlock is driving the number two offensive bus the most. Lane is getting more and more opportunities to throw the football in practice and has been put in more situations he's not been in before. We had an opportunity to talk to Robert today.

"I'm not unhappy about my progress. In fact, I'm 100% better now than I was in spring and I've just about learned the whole system, and there is a lot to learn," he noted. "As I have said a hundred times before, all I want to do is win. If that means me under center, great. If it means Ethan or Mike, great. As long as we are winning, that's all that matters. I think I am being handled properly. I'm getting more and more chances to perform in practice and in games and that's all I can hope for at this stage in my career. I look at it this way - I'm playing more as a redshirt freshman than Eli Manning did as a redshirt freshman. I'm pleased with the way things are going except we are losing. We need to stop that now."

The injury report has not changed much since yesterday. . . CB Bryant Thomas (hamstring) expected to practice today after sitting out the last two weeks, but he was not able to go. He is doubtful for the Auburn game. . . PK Jonathan Nichols (bruised toe) said he is 100% now but it is unlikely he will resume his kickoff duties against Auburn. As far as FG and PAT, however, he said he feels "perfect.". . . Backup FB Anthony Hobgood (concussion) returned to practice today, but it was a non-contact practice so we aren't sure if he's 100% or not. We assume he is. . . Frosh LB Reterio Brown (pulled calf muscle) sat out today but expects to return to practice next Monday. . . OL Terrance Houston (ankle sprain) sat out today. . . Freshman DE Corey Mills (groin injury) is likely out for the year and did not practice again today. We will probably quit reporting on him because the word is pretty solid - he will miss the rest of the year. . . RT Tre' Stallings (ankle sprain) practiced today after tweaking his injury yesterday, but he appeared to be favoring the ankle a little. . . DT McKinley Boykin had a little bout of tendonitis in his knee today, but he said he will definitely be ready for Auburn.

The Rebels, as Cut said, will have a similar type practice tomorrow - lots of reps, not real long, but highly intense mental preparation.

OM Spirit Top Stories