Practice Report: 1st day of full pads!

Coach Ed Orgeron was fairly pleased with most of today's workout - the first of spring with full pads. The Rebel offense made more plays today, the tempo was good and the defense came to life at the end of the session. Coach O said, overall, it was a 'good start.'

The first day of pads resulted in a little more playmaking out of the Rebel offense, but Reb Coach Ed Orgeron was not disappointed in the defense's effort.

"I thought the offense moved the ball really well - in the running game and in the passing game," Orgeron noted. "I like the way the running game is developing. I think Jamal Pittman is a real good back who is showing us he wants to play. Vashon (Pearson) is also doing some good things with the ball in his hands. I like the zone running schemes we are using - they fit our personnel."

On defense, Ed was not real worried about the outcome of the first day of hitting.

"We didn't allow full tackling today, so it's hard for the defense to show everything it's got, but they gave great effort and had a lot of energy. Our fits were off some, and it's all about fitting right and executing. I thought our defensive guys were so pumped up early on that they lost some technique and lost their fits. I think they will do better tomorrow in a full contact scrimmage," he added.

The Rebs will begin practice on the practice fields at 11 a.m. The scrimmage will begin at 12:15 p.m. and will be a full contact affair.

"I'm anxious to see how they all respond tomorrow, but today - although we were a bit up and down - was a good day," Orgeron closed.

Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone was also impressed with the offensive production - to a point.

"We did well in spurts," he said. "It's pretty normal to have some dropped passes and turnovers in the first pad day, and we had our share of that, but we also made plays and that's what I liked seeing. When guys are making plays, you can correct the rest. We have some playmakers on this team - the consistency will come."

Mazzone was pleased with the performances of QBs Robert Lane and Micheal Spurlock.

"They both had decent days throwing the ball. I saw improvement from Robert today. He made some better throws today than he did the first two days," Mazzone noted. "I was also impressed with our offensive line in the running game. For this early in spring, running a new system, they did very well at times."


* DL Coach Joe Cullen was not at practice today. It was widely circulating from official and unofficial sources that he has been dismissed. . . The early word on a replacement is that Orgeron may opt to promote GA Ryan Nielsen, who played for him at USC. That is not official, but Nielsen was working with Ed with the DL today. We'll keep you posted on those developments as they occur and clear up some more.

* The wide receivers were out early today doing some drills and the extra work by them with WR Coach Matt Lubick seemed to pay off. There were still two or three dropped passes, but not nearly as many as Wednesday's workout. Good day for the WRs, who are being led by Mario Hill, Mike Espy and Taye Biddle at this juncture. Carlos Suggs is making an impression also. Larry Kendrick, Matt Pierce and Mico McSwain are also making a little noise. Should be interesting to see that depth chart develop as spring rolls along. . . Spurlock hit Espy for a 40-yard score and Lane connected with Suggs on a 30-yard catch and run for a score.

* Orgeron runs his board drills differently than any staff we've seen. There are six boards on the ground and six one-on-one matchups going at once. Even the quarterbacks and kickers are part of the contact. Most staffs we have seen in the past have one matchup at a time. With this staff, all six boards were constantly occupied for about five non-stop minutes. . .Two players who did a nice job in board drills were DT Dedrick Clark, who worked with the number one defense today, and OG Tim Henderson, a redshirt freshman. Good to see them picking up the pace some.

* Junior Brian Brown got a shot with the number one defense at strong safety today. He appeared to be comfortable and productive, but we will see more tomorrow in teh scrimmage. Ketih Houston has been working with the top unit at SS, but today was B.'s turn.

* Sophomore Brandon Jenkins was still at defensive tackle today. He was moved there Wednesday, but we weren't sure if that was a permanent situation or not. It's still sticking. He worked with the second defense today with Jeremy Garrett at the other DT position.

* Backup CB Dustin Mouzon and CB Travis Johnson each had interceptions today in team drills. Johnson picked off Lane when he jumped a slant route Espy was running. Mouzon's pick was on an errant flat pass from Spurlock.

* Although he didn't have a pick today, junior CB Trumaine McBride made plays all day from the RCB slot. He batted down at least four passes and broke up at least three more after the receiver had the ball in his grasp. His coverage skills have continued to improve and he seems supremely confident in his ability this spring.

* The Reb offense ran two reverses today and both were successful - a big gainer by Mario Hill and a 15-yard gain by Suggs. Mazzone has always had reverses in his package and isn't shy to run them when he thinks a defense is playing too aggressively and not taking care of their home turf. He called them at the right times today.

* CB Terrell Jackson recovered a fumbled snap that was kicked outside when TB Alan Abrams tried to pick it up on the run.

* TB Vashon Pearson's vision continues to improve. Three times today he cut out of a pileup at the line of scrimmage into daylight for solid gains. Vashon is picking up where he left off last year in terms of improvement in his vision.

* A player who seems to be making an impression with the DL coaches is DE Viciente DeLoach. He had a QB sack today and took a lot of snaps with the number one defense. Viciente has physically matured and looks to be making the most of an opportunity to start on equal footing with the other DEs. So far, so good for the sophomore from Columbus.

* TB BenJarvus Green-Ellis got a couple of reps late in practice and showed some good instincts with the ball in his hands. He appears to have enough quickness to get to an opening and enough size to punish would-be tacklers.

* Former GA Zac Roper has accepted a position on Jim Knowles' Cornell staff. Zac has been helping the new staff in its transition and has been an asset to them as they learn the ropes at Ole Miss. He will coach on the offensive side of the ball for Knowles, the former LB coach at Ole Miss.

* Signee Rob Park, a punter from MUS in Memphis, was at practice today. Rob is currently playing HS baseball, but said he's anxious to get to Ole Miss this summer and begin his college football career. Great kid.

* LB commitment Brandon Jackson from Briarcrest was at practice today along with Biggersville RB Alex Carpenter, and the Meridian trio of RB Cordera Eason, RD Derrick Davis and LB Rashaad Davis. Five very athletic looking youngsters who seemed fairly mature physically.

* Former Rebel TE Coach Joe Pannunzio, now the head coach at Murray State, was at practice today. He's in town for current Rebel TE Coach Matt Luke's wedding tomorrow night. Matt, you'll recall, coached for Joe at Murray State before joining the Ole Miss staff two years ago. . . Also David Saunders, the head coach at Millsaps, and his staff were at practice. Saunders and Orgeron are good friends and have stayed in close contact for years.

* All Rebel fans are invited to attend every practice, but Orgeron would like a big crowd at tomorrow's scrimmage. Be there, if you can.

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