Practice Report: Rebs have 'outstanding' workout

Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron was not pleased with the energy level of Wednesday's practice, but all that changed today when nearly 100 area coaches were on hand for a coaching clinic and the 2-hour, 45-minute practice. "This was a great practice and a great day for this program," said Orgeron.

Rebel Coach Ed Orgeron was asked Wednesday after practice why he felt the energy level of the team was "down" in that workout. He said he did not know, but he would find out and fix it.

It did not take him long to do so. The next time out of the box - today, inside the IPF - the Rebs were breathing fire.

"Outstanding work. I loved the tempo, I loved the attitude and I loved the hitting," said Orgeron. "We ran some situation periods trying to correct some things we were doing wrong and we got them corrected. I was extremely proud of that effort. When kids can look at what they are doing on tape and come out to practice and correct those things, you know you are on the right track."

Orgeron was also excited about the whole day - the first of a weekend coaching clinic.

"We have to take this program to the next level and the way to do that is to get as many people involved as we possibly can," he continued. "Every day I get calls from people wishing us well. Every day we try to bring someone to this facility to get them involved in our program. We had Norm Chow in here today and he was very impressed with our facility and said he felt our talent level was pretty good, very comparable to what we had at USC when he came there five years ago and joined Coach (Pete) Carroll's staff with me. Today, we had a lot of enthusiastic young coaches in here and I hope we helped them with their craft. It was just an exciting day for me, especially since we topped it off with an excellent practice."

In tomorrow's 11 a.m. scrimmage, Orgeron had some general goals.

"We want to run and catch the ball effectively on offense and we want to make it hard for them to do either on defense," he smiled. "Nothing fancy. Just play the game of football the way it's supposed to be played."

Notes:

* Today, TB Alan Abrams, WR Matt Pierce, QB Robert Lane (dressed out but not throwing the ball), and FB Anthony Hobgood were out. WR/TB Larry Kendrick began practice but had to leave early for a late class. DE Corvelli Haynes returned to practice today after missing the last two workouts. . . Of course, TB Brandon Jacobs, DT McKinley Boykin and OL Andrew Wicker are out for the whole spring. . . Today, C/OG Tony Bonds got banged up and missed most of the scrimmage work. . . There is a possibility that Hobgood, who received his 9th concussion since he has been playing football, will not be back. His football career is probably over, but that's not definite. Tough break for a kid who loves the game, but his future health is way more important than a game.

* In the last few days, some players have emerged on the first defense. They remained there today. They are LCB Nate Banks, SS Jamarca Sanford and OLB Dontae Reed. Obviously, they are doing something right to maintain those slots on multiple days ahead of stiff competition. . . Asked why he has blossomed lately, Reed said it was easy to explain. "I know the defense and it's simple to learn. You can just turn loose and play. Last year, we were responsible for two gaps. This year, we are responsible for one. You can just let your mind go, play loose and be aggressive. That benefits me because I'm an aggressive player to begin with," Reed noted.

* Two signees were on campus today. QB Billy Tapp is still here. He's spending his spring break in Oxford. Also, Jackson OL Reid Neely was at practice. He's a big boy!

* Former Rebel LB Lanier Goethie is considering getting into coaching and going back to graduate school. He was on campus today to talk to Coach Orgeron about the possibility of being the defensive graduate assistant now that Ryan Nielsen has been elevated to Assistant DL Coach and has a fulltime position on the staff. It would be great to have Lanier back. He would be a good influence on the Rebel players. He's currently living and working in Atlanta, but said he misses the game.

* OL Coach George DeLeone continued his musical chairs on the OL today, continuing to give everyone an opportunity to earn a slot. Today, he moved RT Tre' Stallings inside to RG, moved backup LT David Taxler to number one RT and moved RG Tony Bonds to number one center. RG Darryl Harris and RT Bobby Harris were the only two who remained at number one in their positions from Wednesday. We'll try to ask DeLeone tomorrow, if that rotation remains, how the guys in new positions fared.

* In team running game drills, the defense was very active. Except for one run of 10 yards by TB Jamal Pittman, the defense stymied the number one offense in the running game today. A couple of big plays were DT Micheal Bozeman nailing Pittman in the backfield for a five-yard loss with the ones, and DT Jeremy Garrett sacking QB Ethan Flatt for a six-yard loss. It was a very physical period that the defense held an edge in, but it was not a total "flop" for the offense. There were several two and three-yard gains, but they could not sustain much.

* In pass scale drills, QB Michael Spurlock waas off target for most of the period. His receivers were finding openings in the zone defenses the secondary was using, but he was simply off target some on some intermediate passes. Late in the period, however, Spurlock threw a 30-yard dart to WR Mario Hill that not many QBs in the country could make. Overall, up-and-down period for Mike.

* A lot of people have been asking about QB Paul Eck. Today, he got a series with the number two offense in pass scale drills. He completed a nice swing pass in stride for a short gain, hit WR Carlos Suggs in stride on a short crossing route, missed Larry Kendrick with a short flat pass and threw incomplete in traffic rolling left to Hill. 2-4 for 12 yards. Not bad, not bad at all.

* In field goal drills, the Rebs were, to be blunt, bad. Hunter Bray was 0-3 and Will Moseley was 1-2. We don't know if the turf in the IPF is harder to kick on or not - we'll ask - but up until today those two have been very solid and accurate.

* The situational portion of practice focused on third downs on Wednesdays. Today, first downs. In a brief rundown of 24 plays, with the ones and twos swapping series, there was a lot of give-and-take in the full team, full contact drill. . . For the ones, Spurlock found Mike Espy for 9 yards; SS Jamarca Sanford broke up a pass intended for TE Lawrence Lilly; a screen to Espy was limited to 3 yards by CB Trumaine McBride; and a screen to Pittman netted 2 yards before LB Patrick Willis dragged him down. . . The next time the ones took the field, Spurlock threw incomplete while scrambling out of trouble; Pittman was held to 1 yard by DE Jayme Mitchell; and TB BenJarvus Green-Ellis had runs of 2 and 6 yards. . . The next time, DE Chris Bowers flushed Spurlock and tackled him for a 1-yard loss; Pittman was knocked down a yard behind the line by LB Kelvin Robinson; Espy gathered in a 6-yard pass and Spurlock threw a beautiful 15-yard fade to Burnell Wallace. . . For the twos, TB Vashon Pearson had four runs of 4 or more yards; QB Ethan Flatt connected with TE Jimmy Brooks for 6 yards and carried himself for a 9-yard gain. For the two defense, LB Brandon Thomas had a QB sack.

* Orgeron then set up drives from different yard markers for the full scrimmage portion of practice. The following is a recap of the various series.

* The one offense started on their own 20 against the one defense. A reverse to Espy gained 20; a pass to Wallace netted 8 more; Pittman was held to 1 by Mitchell; Pittman was stopped at the line by Robinson and Bozeman; Pittman gained a first down with a 2-yard gain on fourth down to keep the drive alove at the defense's 28. Espy, who had a really good day, then hauled in a short pass good for 6 yards; Pearson gained 3 before Robinson brought him down; and a screen to Espy lodged the ball on the defense's 8. From there, Spurlock scrambled for a score around right end. He was sprung by a Brooks' block on CB Nate Banks. . . On the drive, Bonds was injured and Ben Boyce took over at center with the ones the rest of the day. . . Moseley was good on the PAT.

* The twos also put together a quality drive, moving from the 40 to the 10 before having to settle for a 34-yard Bray field goal. . . Flatt hit TE Robert Hough for 3 yards with LB Marquis McBeath making the stop; then found Wallace for 11 yards over the middle. Wallace was hit hard by CB Travis Johnson, but he held on to the ball and Johnson was slow getting up. From the defense's 42, Ellis ripped off 8 yards and then 4 more. He as stopped for no gain by DE Viciente DeLoach, but then Flatt found Suggs at the 18. Pearson had runs of 1 (CB Dustin Mouzon on the open field tackle) and 12 yards, but then DT Brandon Jenkins met Pearson head-on in the backfield for a 4-yard loss. A QB sack by DE Reterio Brown forced the field goal try. Bray drilled the attempt.

* On the first play from the defense's 40, Pittman coughed up the ball and CB trumaine McBride covered the loose ball. We could not tell who caused the fumble, but it was a short drive for the ones.

* The threes then started at the defense's 40 and it was all TB Hiram White, who rippe dof runs of 11, 12 and 7 before walkon FB Clay Haury gained 8 and then the final 2 for the TD. It wa apparent the three offense is ahead of the three defense right now if that drive is any indicator.

* The ones started at the defense's 35 and quickly Spurlock found a leaping Espy at the 12, but the defense stiffened and did not allow a TD. Spurlock was run down by Willis for no gain, then ran to the 5, but on third down his pass to Wallace was batted away by Banks. Bray's 23-yard field goal attempt was good.

* Starting from the two defense's 30, DeLoach hit Pearson in the backfield for a 4-yard loss. LB Marquis McBeath then tackled Pearson after a 3-yard pickup. Flatt found Suggs in traffic to the 18, but the drive sputtered there. Moseley, however, was good on a 36-yard field goal. . . While Moseley and Bray struggled in the field goal period, they were perfect in the scrimmage.

* From their own 20, the offense picked up one first down on a Spurlock scramble, but a sack by DE Chris Bowers stopped the drive cold. DT Dedrick Clark also had a nice play on that set by stopping Pittman for no gain.

* The twos ended the scrimmage with a drive at their own 20 that went to the defense's 7 before going backwards and stalling on the 15. . . A copletion to Espy at the 42 got the offense going. Then Pearson had runs of 3, 3, 11 and 5. LB Keith Houston had three of those stops. On fourth and 3, Flatt found TE Robert Hough at the 14, but on the next play Pearson fumbled a pitch for a loss of 10 yards. Ellis ran 17 yards to the 7, but Jenkins sacked Flatt for a loss of 8 yards. The final play of the day was an incompletion in the end zone with CB Terrell Jackson and SS B. Brown breaking up a pass.

* Practice begins tomorrow at 11 a.m., but the scrimmaging will probably not start until noon.

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