The Ole Miss Rebels held a 1 3/4 hour practice today that basically went over everything - from A to Z - they want to run against LSU in Saturday night's SEC contest.
Coach David Cutcliffe said on Monday he would be looking for added energy and enthusiasm throughout the week. Offensive Coordinator John Latina thinks the mission - for the most part - was accomplished.
"Yes, we showed more energy and enthusiasm, as a whole, but it's been a tough week for all of us," Lats explained. "We have had some lapses in practice because we aren't a very confident team right now. I have been pleased with the way the guys are trying to work through our disappointment and discouragement, and at times they have succeeded, but at times they have given in to it, which is natural.
"Overall, I think we've had a good week of practice and are ready to play, but I felt the same thing last week. Maybe I'm ther eternal optimist, but I think we are ready to play against LSU. Certainly we need something good to happen to us early - something we can build some momentum on, but what I am looking for will be our resilience if something goes wrong early in the game. We were not resilient against Arkansas. If we get in that same spot, will we be able to mount and charge and climb that hill? I think we can, but I hope we don't have to find out. I hope we make some positive things happen early and go from there."
Like Cutcliffe said Monday, Latina believes the Rebs have their hands full with the Tigers.
"They are a heckuva football team, make no mistake about it," Latina noted. "On offense, we have to make them defend the whole field. We also have to go against our tendencies some and try to catch them out of position. They have great talent and an excellent scheme predicated on blitzes and second and third level pressure. It will be very important for us to recognize what they are doing on defense and then execute handling it.
"I think we have a good plan, now it's just up to us to execute it and to have some resolve in executing it."
There will be no changes in the starters - other than B. Brown starting for Eric Oliver at free safety - for Saturday's game, but Cutcliffe intimated yesterday that the snap distribution might be different. In other words, the players who are getting the job done will get the majority of snaps and those who aren't will give way to their backups. Oliver, for those who haven't been keeping up with practice reports this week, will not start due to disciplinary reasons (missing a team meeting early in the week).
PK Wesley Bryan has been out most of the week with a sprained ankle, but he practiced today and looked effective in drills. If he does not handle the kickoff duties, Jonathan Nichols - who kicked off in the first five games before injuring his toe - will take care of those chores.
DT Andrew Wicker, who is making a quick comeback from scope surgery on his knee, practiced today and has been cleared to play. His knee is sore, but he wants to give it a try and see if he can get some effective snaps against the Tigers.
OG/C Tony Bonds is still struggling with a shoulder injury, but is expected to dress out and be available in emergency situations.
WR Matt Pierce, who missed yesterday with a sore hamstring, practiced today and is expected to dress out against the Tigers. How much playing time he will get will depend partly on how his hamstring is Saturday.
LB Garry Pack has a sore shoulder but is also expected to be ready for the LSU game. He may not be 100%, but he's going to try to play.
Today, sophomore LB Patrick Willis got a lot of snaps with the number one defense in place of senior Bryan Lester, but we believe Bryan will still get the start. Most likely, they will split time.
We could be all wrong on this guess, but we expect WR Larry Kendrick and TB Jamal Pittman to get more action against the Tigers. We predicted that last week as well and it didn't take place, but their reps have increased quite a bit in practice this week.
Ethan Flatt will get the starting nod at quarterback, but look for Robert Lane to play just as much as Ethan.
Thursday Practice Report
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