Pratice Report: Thursday

With seven assistant coaches on the road recruiting, the remaining coaches ran a short practice in helmets and shorts today in the stadium. The focus was on team drills and putting in the Arkansas gameplan.

The Rebels practiced for about an hour today with Head Coach David Cutcliffe, Offensive Coordinator John Latina and Defensive Coordinator Chuck Driesbach running the show. The rest of the coaches were on the road recruiting during this open week weekend.

"As I said yesterday, we did mostly team work - running plays on both sides of the ball and trying to get a good headstart on our Arkansas gameplan," said Cutcliffe. "We didn't want to do too much this week, but we needed to stay focused and sharp. We need to heal some guys up and rest a little before coming back in here Monday rejuvenated and ready for the stretch run."

Cutcliffe was satisfied with what the team got accomplished this week, mentally and physically.

"Our seniors have come out with some attitude this week and are determined to finish off their last season on a good note," Cut continued. "They know what's at stake and understand their backs are against the wall. Hopefully that will carry over into the games."

Missing in action were: S Danny Bell (dismissed from the team today); DT Andrew Wicker (knee scoped); OG Doug Buckles (staph infection/hospitalized); DE Jayme Mitchell (broken bone in lower ankle region). . . There is no word on whether or not Buckles will play next week, but the word today is that he is much better and is still taking an antibiotic IV. . . Mitchell and Wicker will not play versus Arkansas.

Both starting tackles - Tre' Stallings and Bobby Harris - have struggled a couple of weeks with sprained ankles, but both practiced full speed all week and did not miss any reps. They even participated in contact drills Tuesday and Wednesday. Both said they are a lot better and anticipate being 100% for the Arkansas game.

In Buck's absence today, James McCoy took number one snaps. . . In Jayme's absense, Brandon Jenkins took the top reps at left end. . . C Chris Spencer has been hampered a little with a back problem and as a precaution he did not do any full team work. Tony Bonds, who is also banged up a little, took most of the number one snaps at center.

While the Rebs are certainly not doing well as a team, two players who have thrived are DTs McKinley Boykin and Michael Bozeman. We talked briefly with Boze after practice today.

"When the team is struggling, I don't like to talk about the kind of year I'm having, but I guess I'm doing OK individually," he said. "Last year, I was pretty good against the run, but I didn't get much pressure on the QB. This year I think I've stayed fairly solid against the run and have improved my pressure game some.

"McKinley is on fire. He's more focused and more determined this year and I think he and I have good chemistry out there. We're connected. We push each other and compete with each other to see who will get the most tackles. I think we have made a pretty good one-two punch up front this year."

When asked about Arkansas, Michael was blunt. "They have a good offensive line and they play hard. Our biggest concern is chasing (QB Matt) Jones around all day. He's very dangerous if you don't pressure him and contain him," Boze concluded. "Their backs are real good too, but Matt has to be your number one concern when you line up against them. You are always thinking about #7, on every snap."

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