Practice report: Varsity day two

Toward the end of yesterday's 3-hour practice, Ole Miss football players started "dropping like flies." But when varsity practice resumed this morning, they were ready to roll. Read about it inside.

After reviewing film of the first day's practice last night, Coach Ed Orgeron, who left the IPF at 11:30 p.m. last night, had concluded he wasn't pleased with a) the offensive execution and b) the tempo the defensive line had set.

This morning, in another 3-hour workout on the practice fields with the varsity, both those areas got better, leaving Orgeron a happier head coach when he addressed the media in attendance.

"I was more pleased today," said Coach O. "We had better execution on offense. I saw some guys do some exceptional things this morning. And I thought DT McKinley Boykin was great today.

"I believe the players adjusted some to the pace - we had the same practice routine today as we had yesterday. The defensive line set the tempo today and it showed. I also feel we are doing a good job in the kicking game. PK Matt Hinkle had a good day yesterday and was good again today, even though he missed the last one under pressure. We are getting some great looks at our personnel and are moving forward."

Random notes from practice:

* Yesterday, PK Matt Hinkle and P Rob Park worked out with the freshmen. Today, they were moved "up" with th varsity and PK Will Moseley was moved to the afternoon workout with the frosh. PK Hunter Bray was with the varsity yesterday and remained there today. Hinkle was 9-12 today in field goals while Bray was 4-6. Both looked pretty good considering they were kicking into a crosswind breeze. . . Park also responded today after a less-than-consistent showing yesterday. He was much more consistent today and had several punts in the 50-yard range. He showed a lot of improvement, or adjustment to the situation, today.

* Another player who worked with the frosh yesterday but was moved up today was DE Viciente DeLoach. Coach Orgeron said the moving up and down of personnel will be done on a daily basis, late at night during film evaluations.

* QB Robert Lane had the controls of the number one offense today and was running the offense well before he limped off with an injury and missed the 11-on-11 padless scrimmage portion to end practice. Robert was fairly crisp with his throwing and seemed to be starting to get into a groove when he had to leave the lineup.

* TB Jamal Pittman, who said he tweaked his hamstring yesterday, repped some today, but was not able to go full speed the whole practice. He was still favoring his hammy.

* Players who were catching punts this morning were Mike Espy and B. Brown. Players catching kickoffs were Mico McSwain, Larry Kendrick, Mario Hill and Burnell Wallace. Espy and Brown are also expected to field kickoffs, but the drills were going on simultaneously.

* There were no changes on the number one offensive line today. It appears the transition to center for Darryl Harris is working pretty well. The only kink we have seen thus far is a fumbled snap late in practice that DT Michael Bozeman scooped up and scored with from about 30 yards out. Other than that, it's been smooth sailing in the snap exchange. Tony Bonds and Thomas Eckers are still the guards and Tre' Stallings and Bobby Harris man the tackle slots.

* It appears the battle for one of the outside linebacker slots between Dontae Reed and Garry Pack is in a dead heat right now. They are getting equal reps with the number one defense. Reed had a QB sack on a blitz late in practice, but Pack drew some praise from LB Coach Shawn Slocum today after working through a couple of lapses from yesterday.

* In some defensive line drills today, it appeared the coaches are torying with the idea of having a big DE and a quick one on each side. In drills only, and not in team situations, Jayme Mitchell worked some at the LEO with Chris Bowers and Corvelli Haynes worked some on the strong side with Brandon Jenkins. The thinking there may be to get a big presence and a quick presence at each end, but none of that was enacted in team drills, as we said. We'll keep an eye on that and see if the coaches experiment with that type of rotation further.

* TB Alan Abrams, to this point, is having an excellent fall camp. It is hard to gauge runners when nobody is hitting or wearing pads, but "A.A." is pleased with his start and is showing some excellent sutting and vision thus far. "I like what I'm doing so far," he said. "The hard work I put in this summer is paying off. I feel I have improved every aspect of my game. I'm catching the ball very well and I feel faster than I have ever been. I'm happy, so far, but I've got a long way to go." He can dazzle you with some of his cuts and his vision, which has always been good, and it appears the style of running attack the Rebs will employ suits a cutter with good vision.

* For the second day in a row, backup OLB Keith Houston has been at the right place at the right time and has produced an interception. Today, a pass from Micheal Spurlock to Mario Hill bounced of Hill's hands and into Houston's arms. It would be big if Houston could emerge as a dependable backup for K-Rob. That unit needs someone to. . . Also for the second day in a row, SS Jamarca Sanford had an interception. Good sign since it was suggested this summer that his coverage skills needed the most attention this fall.

* WR Burnell Wallace made more of a statement today and caught several passes after not having a good opening day yesterday. He was very visible in the short passing game with several 8-10 yard receptions. Larry Kendrick also seems to be a favorite target of the QBs, mostly on short passes and swing passes to the flat. He will definitely get an opportunity to show what he can do this fall.

* The number two secondary, at this point, appears to be CBs Dustin Mouzon (behind McBride) and Nate Banks (behind T. Johnson), FS B. Brown and SS Mico McSwain. Mouzon made a very nice play on a long ball today that he appeared to be beaten on. Showed good closing skills. McSwain seems to be still in the middle of the learning curve, but shows glimpses of effectiveness. Banks has made solid plays both days, as has Brown. Athletically, Banks may be the best CB on the team and is certainly good enough to play in the SEC.

* After succumbing to the heat yesterday for the first time in his football career, DE Chris Bowers was back to his usual self today with two or three QB pressures and one QB sack in team situations. Good day for him.

* The team scrimmage at the end of practice was about what you'd expect, with the offense and defense trading punches but neither getting a definitive edge. The offense would make a good play and then the defense would rise to the challenge. Without pads on, it's hard to get an accurate idea of how they are performing, but there was some banter flying between the two and some challenges passed to execute. Both responded.

* The practice ended with a 50-yard pass from Spurlock to WR Mike Espy on a fourth-and-15 situation. Espy made a leaping catch and barely stayed in bounds.

* It didn't appear anyone left practice due to dehydration. A couple of players cramped late in practice, but continued working. Much better than yesterday.

* WR Taye Biddle missed practice again today.

* While a lot of positions are being hotly contested and the competition is open, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of actual movement going on from the preseason depth chart at this time. The ones coming out of spring are basically the ones now - except at QB, where everything is up for grabs, and the one OLB slot. We'll see if that changes any in the next few days as the Rebs lead up to the first day of full pads next Thursday morning.

* We will have a full practice report late this afternoon on the 3 p.m. freshman practice.

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