Two-deep (unofficial) as of today

Yesterday at practice, a senior player who has been a starter most of his career missed an assignment. Immediately, Coach Ed Orgeron removed him from the number one unit and inserted another player. It's been that way from the start – perform and the job is yours (for now). Have a lapse and you go to the back of the line. The depth chart changes frequently. Read inside about the current unofficial depth chart and a few comments on the way things are shaping up position-by-position.

Don't hold us to the following unofficial depth chart. It could change by the time you finish reading this piece. There hasn't been drastic movement, but there has been constant, almost daily, movement on the Ole Miss two-deep. Before it changes, we'll get right to what it was at yesterday's practice with a warning: it may not be that way this afternoon when practice resumes.


Quarterback: Micheal Spurlock, Robert Lane/Ethan Flatt. . . Spurlock started August as number one by a nose and has basically stayed there. He's been the most consistent of the signal-callers and has done nothing to lose his standing. But from our cheap seat, he also has not put the competition away. He's been steady, which has been good enough. Lane struggled with heat issues during the early going when it was imperative for him to make his move. He's had some really good days, but his consistency hasn't been as good as Micheal's to this point. Flatt started August behind the other two and didn't get a lot of reps early on, but when Lane dehydrated, Ethan came in and did some good things, which earned him almost equal number two reps with Lane. To date, the pecking order is still Spurlock, Lane and Flatt, but not much separates any of them, in this opinion.

Tailback: Jamal Pittman, Brandon Jacobs. . . Alan Abrams has been hurt the last several days so we really don't know where he stands. Remember, we said "today." Jacobs was number one last Saturday, but Pitt took back over yesterday. Mico McSwain is in the mix, but not as one of the top two at this minute. Pittman has been very good some days and average others. Jacobs missed a lot of early practices, but came back to make his mark in a hurry. We look for a committee approach to TB, but Pittman and Jacobs seem to have the inside track at the moment.

Fullback: Jason Cook, Seth Michaelson. . . Cook has been our surprise of August. Consistently effective every day and a hard worker who improves his game by the minute through effort and intelligence and maturity. (He's not a typical RS freshman between the ears.) Michaelson was almost an after-thought to me during spring training, but he's had a good enough camp to earn a scholarship and is the true number two guy at FB, not just a body plugged in for practice reps. He's earned it. We're not saying Jacobs couldn't end up spelling Cook when he needs a rest, but Jacobs has had no fullback snaps in practice. Seth has gotten all the backup snaps there, which indicates to me the coaches are happy with his production. One caveat to that is the offense being used does not employ a fullback on every snap, so Cook should be able to handle most of the load, but Seth is ready and willing when called upon and will be a factor on special teams it appears. My apologies to Seth for underestimating him earlier. He has proven my first impression to be incorrect.

Tight End: Robert Hough, Jimmy Brooks/Lawrence Lilly. . . Hough came out of nowhere – third team actually – to catapult to the top of the list because he fits this offense very well. It appears the coaches want a tight end who can stretch the field and be a bigger part of the passing game. Hough has more speed than the other two. But all three will play quite a bit and Brooks and Lilly have had productive August sessions, for the most part.

The offensive line is where things get trickier due to a) August injuries, b) the constant search for the top seven or eight, c) the development of inexperienced/young players. Who will end up where and how much they will play is a subject we are making a stab in the dark about.

Left Tackle: Bobby Harris, Marcus Cohen. . . There is no question about the starter here. The senior has had a very good camp and hasn't faltered at all. Injured Ryan Jones may have been the backup had he not hurt his knee, but it appears right now that Cohen – if we played tomorrow – would be the backup at both tackle slots. Cohen has improved this fall camp. He needed to in order to get to the "reliable" echelon, which he is still striving to attain.

Left Guard: Andrew Wicker, David Traxler. . . . Traxler was number one most of August, but was injured a few days. He returned yesterday, but Wicker remained number one. No telling who will be number one today, but both are having good camps, in this opinion. Traxler also worked some at LT yesterday and might be the backup there if needed. He's bright enough to work either side at guard or tackle. Wicker has made daily strides, but hobbled a bit yesterday toward the end. Hope it's nothing significant – didn't appear to be.

Center: Ben Boyce/Tony Bonds. . . Darryl Harris has been out since early August and there is no guess on his return on our end. Meanwhile, Boyce and Bonds have been swapping snaps with the ones and twos. Both have proven to be steady, but not of the caliber of Harris, who can be very good in time.

Right Guard: Thomas Eckers, Michael Oher. . . . But in reality, Bonds or Traxler may be the number two guard until Oher progresses a little more. Eckers, surprisingly, has held on to his number one position to date. By "surprisingly," I mean no knock on Thomas – he's earned his position via good production and has improved quite a bit over the course of spring and August camps, but when you look at him and Oher and Traxler, he's at a disadvantage physically, it would seem.

Right Tackle: Tre' Stallings, Marcus Cohen. . . Tre's the man, period. Like Bobby, the senior has had a very good camp. Marcus, see above.

Wide Receivers: This is a rotation deal with several players playing multiple positions. We will forego the depth chart, per say, and just give you the current rotation. (There could be seven or eight in the rotation when all is said and done.) Clearly, Mike Espy, Mario Hill and Taye Biddle will get the most snaps. Espy has had his best August, by far, and Hill, after a sluggish start, has been dependable. Biddle started late due to academic issues, but since resolving those it is clear he belongs on the field due to his explosiveness. Larry Kendrick, Burnell Wallace and Carlos Suggs are currently next in line and have done good jobs collectively and individually, but Matt Pierce will be off the injury list soon and Milton Collins made a splash before an injury sidelined him for a while. I think all these guys bring something to the table and will make contributions before all is said and done.


Defensive Tackle: McKinley Boykin, Peria Jerry/Brandon Jenkins. . . Boykin has had ups and downs due to knee soreness, but the coaches have worked within those parameters and given him a chance to work things out by alternating days of more and less reps. Jerry has the upside you look for in a young player and makes big plays on a daily basis. Since being moved from DE to DT/NG, Brandon is starting to establish himself as a rotation player at those positions. He, too, has made big plays in scrimmage situations, but it seems his consistency has kept him from leaping forward further.

Nose Tackle: Michael Bozeman, Jeremy Garrett. . . Bozeman has been the steadiest DL in practice. He may not be as flashy as some, but he's very consistent and has big-play capabilities which he has exhibited frequently in August. Garrett gets more and more kudos from the coaches daily. The coaches' reactions to his play indicate they have developed trust in him to go in games and not have a drop off when Boze is out. Good advancement on his part in August.

Defensive End: Jayme Mitchell, Lamark Armour. . . Mitchell has become more consistent lately and has a firm clamp on number one there, it appears. Armour was number two yesterday. The coaches like the speed he brings to that position. Will he be there today? Could be Viciente DeLoach. Another frosh, LeRon King, may figure in there as well on passing downs. We'll see.

LEO: Chris Bowers/Corvelli Haynes. . . Dead heat. Bowers by a nose one day, Haynes by a hair the next. This is shaping up to be a pretty good situation because both are capable. It matters to them, but it really doesn't matter to me, from what I have seen, which one starts. They are both making plays.

WLB: Kelvin Robinson/Quentin Taylor. . . This battle tightened up in a hurry when K-Rob missed some days with a concussion. He's back now, but didn't put Taylor behind him yesterday. We will see what today brings. My gut tells me the senior will be there in the opener, but Quentin will get plenty of PT and is breathing down Kelvin's neck if he falters.

MLB: Patrick Willis, Robert Russell. . . . No contest here. Willis is the man, but Russell has done some good things and will be ready to contribute. It's really not fair to Robert to compare the two because Willis has done nothing to indicate to me he doesn't have a chance to be an All-SEC performer. At this point, P-Willie is currently the guy we can least afford to lose to injury, at any position, and strictly in my opinion.

SLB: Garry Pack, Dontae Reed. . . Pack started August camp behind, but has not only regained the number one position, but has solidified his standing. He improves daily. Dontae has done nothing wrong, but Pack is simply ahead right now and rising.

Free Safety: Charles Clark, B. Brown. . . Clark has had one of the best August camps of any player. Steady as a world class marksman and a great deal of savvy to go along with plenty of athletic ability. Brown could be starting for a lot of teams and will be an important part of the team on special teams and the secondary as the nickel back. Very good situation at that position.

Strong Safety: Jamarca Sanford, Gary Riggs/Kareem Moore. . . Sanford is clearly number one and has improved his coverage skills – which he needed to do – in August. He's no longer a wild card in the secondary. He has become a complete player without taking away his aggressiveness in run support. Riggs is a true frosh who has shown the coaches things they like, but he's raw. He's under constant scrutiny of DB Coach Chris Rippon, and needs to be. He has lots to learn, but has good skills. Moore was injured some last week, but will probably end up as the number two guy. Simply another guess.

Left Corner: Travis Johnson, Nate Banks. . . This was a see-saw battle up until last week, but it appears experience is winning out currently with Johnson being number one the last three or four practices. The good side of the coin is that Nate is considered a "starter" by the coaches and will most likely be the third corner in a three-man rotation.

Right Corner: Trumaine McBride, Terrell Jackson. . . Trumaine has had a good camp, maybe even excellent. He's making more plays on the ball in August and is tuned in to the system. He's also – as is Travis – the beneficiary of a more productive pass rush that is reducing, by a second or so, how long he has to cover fleet WRs. Terrell has made good strides and will play in some situations, it appears, but look for Nate to be the true backup there most likely.

Deep Snapper: Sidney McLaurin. . . Doing his normal reliable snapping. No problems there unless he's injured. True frosh Brent Smith is learning the trade, but he – like Sidney did when he came on campus – has a lot of work to do.

Holder: Rob Park, Micheal Spurlock. . . Park has never held before in his football career. No problem. He's got it covered. Spurlock is also capable.

Placements: Will Moseley/Matt Hinkle. . . It appears Moseley will handle long field goal duties and Hinkle will take care of the shorter field goals and PATs. At least that's the way practice has been leaning. Both have done a pretty good job to this point. My preseason worries there have decreased substantially. They must be doing something right – Coach O awarded both scholarships this week. . . Sidebar: I'm looking forward to seeing freshman Justin Sparks kick. He's been injured most of August camp.

Kickoffs: Moseley, Hinkle. . . Moseley boomed them out of the end zone in the last scrimmage. Hinkle doesn't have as strong a leg, but his placements of kickoffs are accurate if the coaches choose to go that route.

Punting: Moseley, Park. . . . One day does not mean a permanent turnaround, but yesterday's practice was as good an exhibition of punting as I would hope for. Both punters did very well. They have to keep it up, however, because until yesterday the punting had been below average. Most likely, Moseley will handle the punting for the opener and the coaches will go from there. Most likely. Keep your fingers crossed and hope yesterday is going to become the norm.

How accurate is this depth chart? Today, very accurate. Tomorrow, who knows?

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