On a sunny, cool Thanksgiving morning, the Rebel football team wrapped up the physical part of their preparations for Saturday morning's Egg Bowl in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The Rebels worked extensively on every phase of special teams play and then worked agsint all of Mississippi State's looks on offense and defense, fine-tuning their plan of attack and polishing the plays and sets they want to run against the Bulldogs.
At the end of practice, all the seniors were saluted with what is called "The Last Tackle" since this was the last practice of their Rebel career. As has been a tradition here since Coach David Cutcliffe's arrival, a blocking dummy was "dressed" in a MSU jersey with a MSU helmet attached to the top. As Cut introduced each senior, they made their last practice tackle on the dummy and then exited the practice field for their last time via a salute from their undergrad teammates.
"Those kids have put a lot of blood and sweat and effort and love into this school and this team. They have accomplished some great things. It is an emotional time for them - the last time they will suit up and play a game for Ole Miss," said Cut. "We like to have this ritual for them to let them know we won't forget their efforts and they will always be a member of our team."
The injury situation for the five players we have been updating you on this week is still in the "iffy" category. WR Bill Flowers (sprained ankle) did not practice today and is questionable for Saturday's game. Ditto on SS Kelvin Robinson (knee). DE Corvelli Haynes (shoulder) dressed out but his status is uncertain at this time as well. OT Bobby Harris (ankle/knee) practiced today and will play in the game Saturday. OG/C Tony Bonds (shoulder) is also limited and may not be able to play. Of course, DE Jayme Mitchell (broken foot) and DE Corey Mills (groin injury) will not.
If those guys can't go Saturday, look for Larry Kendrick to fill in the gap at wide receiver for Flowers, Iroko Ayodele and Kareem Moore to take up the slack for Robinson, and Brandon Jenkins to get the most action in place of Haynes.
For the first full practice this week, the number one offensive line worked as a unit with Harris in the lineup. If Bobby struggles, look for the Rebs to go with Tre' Stallings at left tackle, Doug Buckles at left guard, Chris Spencer at center, James McCoy/Tony Bonds at right guard and Marcus Johnson at right tackle.
At the quarterback slot, look for Ethan Flatt to get the start again, but look for plenty of playing time from RS freshman Robert Lane as well.
Offensive Coordinator John Latina says he has seen steady improvement from the MSU defense in the past 10 weeks.
"The Mississippi State coaches have simplified things and are now playing a bend-but-don't-break type of system. They make you execute and work for everything you get because they are no longer giving up the big play, which hurt them earlier in the year when they were trying to do more scheme-wise," Lats said. "What we will have to do is execute 8-10 play drives, with the key word being execute. We will also have to be very physical and go after them. We will have to be aggressive the whole night.
"The one thing you can see on film in recent weeks is that MSU plays hard and they do not give up. Their coaches have done a good job in getting the kind of effort and intensity you have to have in this league out of them."
The Rebs are off until they report back to campus tomorrow afternoon at 2. The ones who live close enough to get there fairly quickly for Thanksgiving are headed home. The team will have a light walk-through practice at 3:30 and then head to Tupelo to spend the night.
Thursday Practice Report
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