Practice report: Monday morning

It was long and it was grueling, but in the end, the 3-hour varsity practice this morning was just what Coach Ed Orgeron was looking for from the Rebel gridders. Read about it inside.

Football Coach Ed Orgeron put the Rebel varsity through a 3-hour workout this morning in shoulder pads and helmets and got what he was looking for - a good practice session.

"This was a great day. We did a lot of good things out there," said Coach O. "We had a tough practice, but the guys worked through it and produced some good results on both sides of the ball.

"I thought the offensive line came together some today, despite (C) Darryl Harris missing today because of a death in his family. I thought TB Jammal Pittman ran well and ran hard from start to finish. QB Micheal Spurlock executed and operated the offense very well today, even though the wide receivers had too many drops. The tight ends are having a great camp, thus far - Coach Matt Luke is doing an excellent job with them.

"I think our conditioning is pretty good. We are still in the process of getting in football shape, but that is natural."

Orgeron also had praise for transfer TB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who will have to sit out this year. "He is one of the toughest guys on our team and he's in great condition. It's a shame he can't play this year, but we are looking forward to him being eligible next year," Orgeron noted. "He will help us a lot this year, though, by simulating the great backs we will be facing this year. He will give us a good look and help the defense get ready. I'm very happy we have him."

Random Notes:

* Coach O started losing his voice yesterday after the freshman practice, but he had it back this morning. He could be heard all over the practice area.

* C Darryl Harris missed practice today due to a death in his family - his Grandmother. He will return to practice tomorrow.

* WR Taye Biddle is out until he passes an intersession course to get academically eligible. According to Coach O, he has nine more days of classes and will not practice until that course is completed.

* LG Andrew Wicker was working some with the number one OL today in certain drills and in some team work today. He was splitting time with Tony Bonds. . . In Harris' absence, Ben Boyce was handling the number one duties at center. Bonds also got some work at center with the number two offense. . . Nate Banks split time with Travis Johnson and Trumaine McBride today getting snaps on both sides with the number one defense. . . RS frosh CB Dustin Mouzon did not dress for practice today, but he did attend and expects to be back tomorrow.

* TB Jamal Pittman was showing no ill effects from a hamstring problem that hampered him the first two days of practice. He got a majority of the number one reps today and went strong throughout during controlled contact drills, team work, etc. Good day for Jamal and something good to see. He ran hard and effectively throughout.

* In the first day of shoulder pads, controlled contact was pretty crisp. There was a lot of leather popping in team drills and in the board drills. There was no contact below th waist, but initial hits were full speed.

* Several players had heat difficulties this morning and a couple got banged up. Mico McSwain, Andrew Wicker, Thomas Eckers, Brandon Jacobs, B. Brown, Lawrence Lilly and a couple more at the end of practice didn't make it all the way through. Some came back during practice, but some didn't.

* OC/QB Coach Noel Mazzone said after practice that he was pleased with the progress of all of his quarterbacks, including the two freshmen. "Micheal (Spurlock) had an excellent day today and Robert (Lane) is making progress, despite missing some crucial time yesterday," Mazzone stated. "Ethan (Flatt) is also making plays and is doing well. The young guys (Billy Tapp and Taylor Mazzone) are picking things up very well. I'm glad we've got both of them. To this point - three days into camp - I'm optimistic with what is taking place at that position, but we've got a long way to go in our evaluations."

* Spurlock seemed to have total control of the offense today, in the running game and throwing the ball. He was very accurate and made big play after big play, running the ball and passing. Simply put, he was on target and appeared to be in a good rhythm. . . He hit a variety of receivers numerous times, including Mike Espy, Jimmy Brooks, Mario Hill, Larry Kendrick, Matt Pierce and Burnell Wallace. In a team drill going in from the defense's 30, Spurlock directed several TDs, including a 25-yard strike to Espy for a score and a 30-yard TD to Kendrick. . . In 11-on-11 starting from the offense's 30, Spurlock kept a hot hand, hitting Kendrick for a long TD and Green-Ellis on a screen that he took to the house. He also found TE Lawrence Lilly for a long gainer.

* The defense also had its moments in the give-and-take period. CB Travis Johnson intercepted a pass, DE Corvelli Haynes had a QB sack and a tackle for loss, LB Garry Pack tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage, DE Brandon Jenkins had a tackle behind the line for a four-yard loss and DE Chris Bowers registered a sack. . . LB Patrick Willis also made some excellent plays near the line of scrimmage, as did LB Kelvin Robinson, but overall, I would have to give the edge to the offense today.

* In field goal practice today, the combo of Matt Hinkle and Hunter Bray were a combined 10-11 on mid-range attempts. Hinkle, who had Spurlock holding for his placements, was 6-6 with a long of 37 yards. Bray, with Lane holding, was 4-5 with his only miss from 34 yards.

* It's really hard to tell who has the edge at OLB right now between Pack and Dontae Reed. They are virtually splitting all snaps down the middle and both are doing some good things. This may be a battle all fall.

* Spurlock was not the only QB who had his moments. Lane had a 30-yard completion to Burnell Wallace and made two or three other nice throws. Flatt also connected on a couple of attempts in limited reps.

* At the end of the 3-hour workout, the Rebs ran 20 10-yard sprints, as quickly as they could humanly get lined up.

Sidebar: Ole Miss has signed a new three-year contract with Baptist Hospital for continued health care of Rebel student-athletes that includes increased benefits for diagnostic testing, more physical therapy services and other improved benefits from last year's one-yeare contract. Senior Associate AD for Sports Medicine and Strength & Conditioning Shannon Singletary said it was a "good deal for both parties in our quest to provide the very best health care for our student-athletes that is possible."

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