Practice Report: Saturday scrimmage

Ole Miss Football Coach Ed Orgeron asked the Rebel players to do two things in today's scrimmage. One, treat it like a game. Two, give him everything they had. Mission accomplished. Read about it inside.

In Ole Miss Football Coach Ed Orgeron's short tenure thus far, there are words that have become catch phrases for his program.

Energy. . . enthusiasm. . . intensity. . . competitive. . . full speed. . . are the ones that jump out at you when watching a Rebel practice under Orgeron.

That's all - well, almost all - he asked of his team for today's 2-hour scrimmage under the hot sun on the practice fields.

And, according to Coach O, he got it.

"We came out and competed today. We made today's scrimmage like a game starting yesterday with a walk through practice," Orgeron noted. "We asked the players to give us everything they could, to compete, to play with energy and to go full speed. It was pretty intense out there. They gave us everything we wanted and everything they could and that pleases me very much."

From an execution standpoint, Orgeron saw ups and downs, hills and valleys.

"I thought the defense did some great things early and basically controlled the first half of the scrimmage," he assessed. "I thought the offense picked things up in the second half and kind of got the defense on its heels. Micheal (Spurlock) had some good third-down plays. The defense did a very good job of stopping the run most of the day, except for the times we let Micheal get away from us. He certainly adds a dimension to the offense that is effective with his running ability.

"On one hand, I was not happy with the running game today, but I was very happy with the run defense on the other. I will say this, though, about the offense - we seemed more in synch this scrimmage than the last one. We were getting our plays in on time and had less confusion in our alignments and assignments.

"On special teams, the return game looked good, the coverage teams did a nice job, the placekicking was pretty good and kickoffs were very good, but our punting was not good at all," he continued. "Will (Moseley) has been punting the ball very well, but today he didn't get a good one off until the fourth punt. We have work to do in that area."

Ed was asked about a few individuals in the brief media gathering after the scrimmage. OLB Garry Pack, DE Corvelli Haynes, OLB Quentin Taylor and WR Taye Biddle were covered by the press.

"Garry is competing and it's showing in his effectiveness. He's having a good camp," Ed evaluated. "Corvelli moved to number one recently because of his pass-rushing ability, but that spot is wide open. We have looked at Chris Bowers, Corvelli, LeRon King and a couple of more there. That's a hot contest that is not settled yet. Quentin has a lot to learn in pass coverage and in getting lined up correctly, but he plays the run very well. I hate that Kelvin (Robinson) has missed time recently, but it's helped Quentin get better by running with the numnber one defense. We tried to go to Taye more today because this is really his first extensive scrimmage work and we wanted to see what he could do with the ball in his hands. He's a TD-maker with his speed and we need him to have the ball. We were testing him today - he did some things well, but he needs to become more consistent."

Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone called the offense's effort "below average," but he said the Rebels needed what they saw from the defense today.

"Coach O threw a lot of blitz at us and made us think quicker. The defense did a great job of coming after us, and we needed that. Even with that in mind, though, we were below average today based on how we had been performing against pressure and base," Mazzone explained. "I thought we were a little impatient in the first half of the scrimmage and were playing a little fast. When we settled down a little in the second half, we did much better."

Mazzone assessed his QBs on the day.

"Micheal has been working real hard on slowing himself down this fall and it's paid off greatly, but today in the early going he reverted back some. When he did slow down, he was much better and he moved the team," Noel stated. "Robert (Lane) was under heavy rush all day, but he still managed to do some good things and Ethan (Flatt) drove us down for our first score of the day, I believe. All three did some good things and all three have things to continue to work on.

"But that's what scrimmages like this are designed to do. You put players in the most compeitive situations you can and see how they react. Then you go to the film room and show them their mistakes and correct them.

"The only problem is that we've got a little more correcting to do after this one than I would have liked. That's why I called it below average."

Random Notes:

* Players who did not participate in the scrimmage were: C Darryl Harris, CB Josh Braithwaite, DB Dustin Mouzon, OG David Traxler, WR Matt Pierce, WR J.D. Lawhorn, TB Alan Abrams, OL Maurice Miller, WR Milton Collins (arm in a sling), DB Bryant Thomas, OLB Kelvin Robinson, OG Ryan Jones, OT Reid Neely, and TB Mico McSwain, who is home due to a death in his family.

* PK Justin Sparks dressed out today after missing most of camp, but he did not do any kicking in live work. Moseley and Hinkle did all of that. It appears Moseley is on track to do the kicking off (most of his efforts this morning were through the end zone) and the long field goals, while Hinkle is getting most of the opportunities inside the 40-yard range. Punting, right now, is up for grabs.

* The personnel used today on kickoff coverage were: B. Brown, LeRon King, Charles Clark, Trumaine McBride, Jamarca Sanford, Terrell Jackson, Patrick Willis, Mike Espy, Keith Houston and Taye Biddle, with Moseley kicking off. . . . The twos on kickoff coverage were: Gary Riggs, Tyson Andrus, Mario Hill, Chris Bowers, Jason Cook, Dontae Reed, Garry Pack, Kareem Moore, Travis Johnson and Nate Banks with Hinkle doing the kicking.

* On kickoff return, the top personnel were Karrem Moore, Dontae Reed, B. Brown, Keith Houston and Terrell Jackson on the front row, Lawrence Lilly and Chris Bowers on the next line, Antonio Turner and Garry Pack on the next line and Mike Espy and Burnell Wallace at the return men.

* The top punt return personnel today were: taye Biddle, Charles Clark, Nate Banks, Jamarca Sanford, Dontae Reed, B. Brown, Terrell Jackson, Trumaine McBride, Travis Johnson and Burnell Wallace with Espy as the return man.

* Some notable players with the number one defense and offense were: Brandon Jacobs took number one snaps at TB in front of Jamal Pittman, Andrew Wicker was working at number one left guard, Corvelli Haynes was number one at DE (LEO), and Quentin Taylor was number one at OLB. Also, it was interesting to note that frosh DE LeRon King was inserted with the number one defense a few times on certain passing situations as a pass rush specialist.

* The players weren't the only ones treating today as a game. Orgeron was talking the sideline like a caged tiger, eyes glaring and as intense as any player on the field. If that is his demeanor in a "real" game, he will be as fun to watch as the game itself.

* As Orgeron noted, Moseley had a real good day kicking off and was pretty good in placements, but his punting left a lot to be desired. He did get off one 51-yarder with good hang time, but the other four were low and in the 32-yard range. Gotta do better.

* One of the most impressive aspects of today's play, from a novice eye, was the coverage in the secondary. A large percentage of passes were contested by tight coverage by the secondary players. Very good showing, from our cheap seat.

* Two wide receivers seem to be going opposite directions on the depth chart. Senior Larry Kendrick was almost invisible today while frosh Burnell Wallace had several nice catches and showed his speed in a couple of instances. Kendrick is a little banged up, which may be part of the reason, but he needs to turn things around next week. Wallace, meanwhile, needs to just keep coming on.

* The offensive front did not have a good day today overall. The blitzing gave them problems early on and they never got much established in the running game. This group needs Darryl Harris and David Traxler back in the fold and needs some players to continue developing - in a hurry.

* Notable stats from today:

* Jamal Pittman was the leading rusher with 72 yards on 14 carries with a long of 19 and one TD. . . Jacobs, playing with the ones, was limited to 9 yards on 9 carries, but that may be more of an indication of the smothering number one defense early on than his ineffectiveness. . . Spurlock netted 31 yards on 8 carries despite having 21 yards deducted via QB sacks. . . No other back gained in double figures, but Turner scored on a nice 7-yard burst.

* Burnell Wallace and Mike Espy led all receivers with 6 catches each for an indentical 59 yards each. Biddle and Carlos Suggs added 4 receptions apiece.

* In passing, Spurlock was 12-21 with no interceptions and 140 yards with 0 TDs. . . Lane was 8-14 with no picks for 55 yards while Flatt was 6-10 for 83 yards and no picks or scores. . . No TD passes were thrown today.

* OLB Keith Houston, OLB Garry Pack, CB Trumaine McBride and FS Charles Clark leading the defense with 5 tackles each. Pack had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage for a -10 total. He also forced a fumble. . . DT Jeremy Garrett, FS B. Brown, and MLB Patrick Willis had 4 stops each. Willis also recovered a fumble and returned it 21 yards. . . . 6 sacks were registered. DT Michael Bozeman had 1.5, Clark, McBride, Travis Johnson and Jamarca Sanford had 1 each and DT Brandon Jenkins was credited with 1/2 sack.

* Editor Jeff Roberson is currently putting together a play-by-play of the scrimmage in a separate story that will be on the front page a little later.

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