Practice Report: Tuesday afternoon

After a two-day layoff to "get their legs back," the Ole Miss football team went back to work today with a 2 1/2 hour, full pad practice with some full contact periods. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron let the Rebs off Sunday after Saturday's tough scrimmage. He let them off yesterday to start classes.

He did not let them off today, even though the Rebs got a break from the drastic heat around Oxford the last week or so with some cloud coverage.

The Rebs resumed practice with a 2 1/2 hour workout that was fast-paced and intense. For the first time this year, the team was divided into regulars and scout team, with the scout teamers wearing Black jerseys.

"We did OK today after two days off," said Orgeron. "The offense came out on fire and did a great job running the ball. At the end, the defense took control, especially during the team period when we had several quarterback sacks."

What turned them around? Coach O called it coaxing." And then he smiled.

"It took a little coaxing today to get the defense going, but they finally turned it on," he noted.

When asked about the progress of the defensive line, Orgeron prefaced his assessment.

"For me to say they are 'good' would mean they are really good, so take that into consideration," he began. "Right now, we are nowhere near where we need to be. We have to play better and some guys have to start taking over. We've been inconsistent at LEO (rush end) and have no clear leader at that position right now. We also have to shore up our pass rush and get tougher inside."

Orgeron verified that walkon WR Jacarious Lucas has left the team and will play junior college football.

Random Notes:

* In early August, Orgeron said he would devote roughly eight practice days to preparation for the opener with Memphis. Today, it appeared he sneaked one period of scout team work in to get a head start. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was wearing Tiger TB DeAngelo Williams' #20 jersey, simulating the Heisman candidate.

* The following players did not practice today: OL Ryan Jones, OT Reid Neely, WR J.D. Lawhorn, WR Milton Collins, TB Alan Abrams, DB Bryant Thomas, CB Dustin Mouzon, C Darryl Harris, OLB Keith Houston (in class). . . WR Matt Pierce dressed out in a Blue jersey like the QBs, which indicates no contact. TE Robert Hough was in Blue as well. Pierce was not able to finish practice.

* The following players were at practice after missing some time on the injury list: OG David Traxler, LB Rogers Loche, TB Mico McSwain, SS Kareem Moore, TB Kendrick Perry, OLB Kelvin Robinson, CB Josh Braithwaite and OL Maurice Miller.

* The team was divided into White jerseys (top offensive players), Red jerseys (top defensive players), Blue jerseys (QBs and non-contact players) and Black jerseys (scout teamers). But don't put too much significance on some of that because only 54 players were in Red, White or Blue. More than 54 will play in games. With the team's numbers down in the low 90s - and 10 or so missing due to injury - some players who are likely to get some snaps were in Black jerseys today.

Anyway, the following players were in White/Blue, in no particular order: WRs Carlos Suggs, Burnell Wallace, Larry Kendrick, Mario Hill, Taye Biddle, Mike Espy and Matt Pierce. . . QBs - Micheal Spurlock, Robert Lane, Ethan Flatt. . . RB Jamal Pittman, Brandon Jacobs, Jason Cook, Seth Michaelson. . . TE - Robert Hough, Lawrence Lilly, Jimmy Brooks. . . OL - Andrew Wicker, Bobby Harris, David Traxler, Tony Bonds, Thomas Eckers, Tre' Stallings, Ben Boyce, Michael Oher, Marcus Cohen. . . (PK/P Will Moseley, DS Sidney McLaurin and PK Justin Sparks, who did not kick again today, were also in White.)

In Red jerseys were: LBs - Kelvin Robinson, Quentin Taylor, Patrick Willis, Rogers Loche, Dontae Reed, Garry Pack, Robert Russell. . . DL - Jeremy Garrett, Michael Bozeman, Jayme Mitchell, McKinley Boykin, Lamark Armour, Peria Jerry, Chris Bowers, Brandon Jenkins, Corvelli Haynes. . . DB - Nate Banks, B. Brown, Jamarca Sanford, Charles Clark, Travis Johnson, Gary Riggs, Terrell Jackson, Trumaine McBride, Kareem Moore. . . . The rest were in Black jerseys.

Mico McSwain, Matt Hinkle and several others expected to contribute were in Black, but it is safe to assume that the players in Red, White and Blue are currently considered the top guns on the team. Knowing Coach O, however, that could change daily, and probably will.

* The punting - to this point - has been inconsistent. Today it was not only consistent, but excellent. . . Moseley had nine punts for a 46-yard per punt average, including a booming 62-yarder. He had good hang time on every attempt. . . Frosh Rob Park also had a good day, averaging 43 yards a punt on five punts. He also had very good hang time. . . Great day for the punters. It was certainly a welcomed sight.

* In most drills today, Andrew Wicker was playing number one left guard ahead of David Traxler, who has been out for a week or so. . . Chris Bowers was playing with the one defense at LEO ahead of Corvelli Haynes, who was number one last Saturday in the scrimmage. . . Jamal Pittman was the number one TB after being number two behind Brandon Jacobs last Saturday. . . Frosh LB Quentin Taylor and Kelvin Robinson split time with the one defense at OLB. The rest of the depth chart stayed the same.

* Coach O made reference to the running game doing well. Here's why. In running game drills, the offense got some things going even though the defense knew it would be a run play. Pittman got things rolling with a big gain of 15 on the opening play. . . . Willis stopped Pitt for no gain on the next play. . . Mitchell held Pitt to 2 on the following snap. . .When the two offense came on the field, Jake ran for 4 and 12-yard gains and McSwain added 3 yards on the outside. . . When the ones came back, Jamal had another big gainer of 22 yards, tacked on 10 more and then finished with an 8-yard run. . . The defense settled down a bit when the twos had their final turn. Jake gained 3, but then was held to 1 by Jerry. . . Seth Michaelson was hit behind the line by Jerry and K-Rob smacked McSwain in the backfield for a 2-yard loss on the biggest hit of the day.

* In passing drills, the defense tightened up a bit, making several nice breaks on passes and breaking up two or three attempts.

Ones: Spurlock to Hill for 8. . . Spurlock to Biddle for 15. . . Incomplete (drop). . . Incomplete (missed receiver).

Twos: Robert Lane pass dropped by Burnell Wallace. . . QB sack Jerry. . . Drop by Michaelson. . . To Wallace for 20.

Ones: Spurlock flushed out of pocket for gain of 6. . . Spurlock to Hill 8. . . Pass broken up by Trumaine McBride with QB pressure from Boykin. . . to Suggs for 8.

Twos: Ethan Flatt to Wallace for 10. . . Flatt to Wallace 5. . . drop by Robert Hough. . . Nate Banks on pass breakup.

* In field goal work, with two units working at the same time (one on PATs, one on longer FGs), Moseley was 3-5, connecting from 43, 46 and 47 yards while missing from 44 and 47. . . Hinkle was 3-4, hitting from 30, 34 and 38 and missing from 30. . . Both were perfect on PATs. Park held for the longer kicks; Spurlock held for the PAT attempts.

* In team drills, the defense stepped up their game, overall.

Ones: Boykin sacked Spurlock -3. . . Willis sacked Spurlock -5. . . Incomplete to Biddle under pressure. . . Spurlock to Hill for 6.

Twos: Lane to Michaelson for 8. . . Incomplete to Larry Kendrick. . . Complete to Wallace for 11. . . Incomplete to Wallace under pressure.

Ones: (3rd and short situations) Pittman for 4. . . Spurlock to Hill for 8. . . Pittman for 6. . . QB sack Bowers -5.

Twos: (3rd and short) Jacobs 2 mashed by K-Rob. . . Flatt to Biddle 6. . . McSwain 6 run. . . Jacobs 3 (Corvelli Haynes on the stop).

Ones: (1st and 10 at the defense's 25) Sack Michael Bozeman. . . Pittman 4 (Willis). . . Spurlock keep for 8. . . Spurlock keep 1 (Robert Russell).

Twos: (1st-10 at D 25) Lane sacked by Jeremy Garrett. . . Lane sacked by Lamark Armour. . . Lane sacked by Brandon Jenkins. . . Pass knocked down by Haynes.

Ones: (Goalline in at D 5) Spurlock to Lawrence Lilly TD. . . 1st at 5 again: Pittman 1 (K-Rob). . . McSwain 1 (Sanford). . . Spurlock to Lilly 3-yard TD to end practice.

* When August began, SS Jamarca Sanford said he had to shore up his pass coverage skills, especially against the deep ball. He believes he has.

"I'm getting better. Coach (Chris) Rippon and Coach (Tony) Hughes and Coach O always stress the deep ball and keeping people in front of you. It's always in the front of your thoughts and actions," said Sanford. "I haven't given up but one or two deep balls this August and that's pretty good as much pass defense as we do and as good as our receivers are.

"I think I've improved. And I've got more confidence now in my pass coverage. I've always had confidence in my run support, but now I'm starting to feel the same way in coverage. I've still got work to do, but I'm getting there thanks to the coaches constantly drilling pass coverage into us."

* The Rebs will practice tomorrow at 3:45 p.m. Like today, it is tentatively scheduled for Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

OM Spirit Top Stories