Sometimes, we, as fans, take for granted the "little things" that lead to success in football. Coaches can't afford to do that. Hence, Saturday's situational/organizational scrimmage may have been the most important, and one of the most telling, of the fall camp.

The scenarios of the consequences of not doing the little things correctly are countless and potentially as damaging as anything in football.

Twelve men on the field wiping out a great play, a delay of game penalty forcing a long-yardage situation, a signal from the sidelines cauing micommunication and the wrong play called - anything can happen if the organizational side of managing a football team is not up to par.

Consequently, Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron and his staff scheduled a whole day of doing the little things correctly yesterday, including all the pre-game preparation, warmups, timing on entering the field. It was one big rehearsal for the opener with Memphis a week from tomorrow.

Yesterday was a day, for the only time this year, when the actual playing of the game and executing took a back seat to making sure the Rebs got to the point of snapping the football smoothly.

"You can't just put a team out there and expect them to be able to function with a play clock, signals from the sidelines, substitutions, sudden changes and on and on without having practiced those situations," said Orgeron. "Everyone has to be in synch. It's critical."

Orgeron - immediately after the practice - saw no areas in doing the little things that were poor, but like all perfectionist coaches he said there were "lots of things to work on." The good thing is that he said it with a smile, as in, whatever was askew will be easily corrected.

The following is a brief breakdown of the way we saw things from the sidelines as an outsider looking in on the operation of the game.

* Play clock efficiency: There were no delay calls in the entire scrimmage and there really were no close calls in that regard. Offensive plays and defensive signals were relayed quickly to the quarterbacks/linebackers and their calls to their respective units were made concisely and in plenty of time for proper alignment. We checked pretty diligently and we only saw one time when the play clock got down to 3 seconds before the ball was snapped. On defense, there was only one time when it appeared players were scrambling to get lined up and "dug in" before the ball was centered.

* Signals from the sidelines: There was only one time, that we saw, when there seemed to be any confusion on what the call from the coaches on the sidelines was, and that was remedied with a timeout. We did not see one instance of the QBs or the LBs rolling their hands in a hurry up fashion to the bench area. This also indicates that input from the press box was concise and timely. There was very little hesitation from the time a play ended until the next play was called and the signal to the QBs/LBs was received.

* Substitutions: In previous practices, there has been some minor confusion on substitutions, but nothing worth noting. An occasional lapse in concentration every blue moon. Yesterday, there were none. Every conceivable personnel package was called in every conceivable situation. Sudden changes of possession, late in the play clock cycle (by design), mock injury situations, etc. In each case, the proper personnel got on the field in a quick manner. Not once did we see any major last-ditch, I-didn't-have-my-helmet-on scurrying for the field. Coaches and player were alert and into the moment, the situation and the game.

* Clock management: There were several "hurry-up" circumstances created by the coaches - last-second field goal, two-minute offense, two-minute defense, etc. The coaches were not able - happily - to create any confusion and certainly showed none themselves.

We doubt if any coach anywhere has ever defined a practice as "perfect." This one was not either, but it certainly served its purpose and it certainly revealed the Rebs to be a well-drilled and "smart" football team that keeps its collective head in game situations.

The organization of the practice was intense, as was the execution. It was a mental test the Rebs needed to pass, which Orgeron said they did, and he stopped just short of saying "with flying colors."

"All kinds of things pop up in games. You have to be prepared for them all," said the Commander-In-Chief of the Rebel grid team. "We held today's practice because we don't want our players to be surprised by anything that can come up."

From our view, this effort got a solid 'A' grade, from the top to the bottom.

And, also from our view, it was as critical for them to do so as it is for them to tackle, catch, throw or defend effectively.

The Rebels are not a "dominant" type of team that can overcome silly mistakes. They will have to play intelligently, together, concisely, and in control of their mental facilities.

Yesterday was a step in that direction. A big step.

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