Practice Report: Friday afternoon

The Ole Miss football team, only three days away from the opening kickoff of the 2005 season, worked out intensely in shoulder pads and helmets today, but in the end it resembled a full contact practice. Read about it inside.

Normally, a shells practice - shoulder pads and helmets only - is not a "taxing" type of practice.

But Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron took it to another level today with a very intense practice in shells that lasted about 2 1/2 hours.

"I wanted an up-tempo practice because this was our last day in pads. We are on target in our preparations, I feel, but we needed a tough day today," Orgeron explained. "We wanted to go hard and the team responded to that thinking. We had good execution and our service (scout) team gave us an up-tempo, good look today. That was very important."

Orgeron was asked about the progress of the injury-depleted offensive line.

"Having (OG) David Traxler back off the injury list has really helped us," Coach O began. "I think (C) Darryl (Harris) is iffy. I just don't know yet, but we will not risk him if he's not ready. He's better, but we aren't going to chance losing him for the season in the opener if he's not doing better than he is right now. I think Andrew Wicker has improved and that will give us a boost.

"The offensive line has progressed, but the true test will be Monday against Memphis. I expect us to perform well, but not perfectly. I predict we will do some things very well and come out of that game with some things that need fixing, like most areas on the team after the first game."

The Rebels had some tense moments today with a coupleof altercations breaking out, but O stepped in and worked things out by asking the young grapplers to go one-on-one for several snaps with the team gathered around.

"I don't mind guys letting a little aggression out the 'legal' way, but we are not going to have a lot of fighting in practice because if it carries over into a game you get thrown out and your team suffers," he explained.

The quarterback question is still open, according to Orgeron.

"Micheal (Spurlock) practiced well today in running the number one offense. Robert (Lane) got a lot of number one snaps the previous two days and did a good job also. We are just going to continue with our plan of giving them both good looks and let it work itself out by game time," he noted.

Asked if he, personally, felt prepared for the opener, he had a positive answer.

"I'm anxious to see what kind of team we have, but other than that, I feel prepared. I've talked with Pete Carroll a couple of times and he has confidence in me, which means a lot to me. I'm following his plan and I'm very confident in our systems and in our preparation," he ended.

Random Notes:

* Former Rebel DT Daniel Booth and OG Doug Buckles were at practice today. Doug was recently released by the Tampa Bay Bucs and Daniel finished his degree this week with a course in Russian. He would like to get into the intelligence field with the government.

* Oxford High School QB Matthew Malouf was also at practice today. Tonight's Oxford game has been postponed so he came out to watch the Rebs work out.

* The following players did not practice: OT Reid Neely, OL Ryan Jones, WR Milton Collins and WR Burnell Wallce, who had a bandaged foot and was on crutches. . . P/PK Will Moseley was not at practice today due to a death in his family. He is expected back tomorrow.

* The following players dressed out and were in Blue jerseys, signifying no contact: MLB Patrick Willis, WR Matt Pierce and C Darryl Harris. Willis is expected to be fine for the opener Monday, but there is still a degree of uncertainty about Pierce and Harris. . . DT Peria Jerry was injured midway through practice and did not return. It did not look serious.

* Jerry, Jamarca Sanford and Reterio Brown missed practice yesterday due to a funeral they attended, but all three were back at practice today.

* Sophomore DT Jeremy Garrett took a lot of number one snaps with the defense today in senior McKinley Boykin's place. Boykin was "OK," but it was his day to back off a little and let his knee rest some.

* In pre-practice drills, Andrew Wicker got some snaps with the number one offense at left guard, but when practice heated up with heavier contact, Traxler took over and remained number one through all team and line drills.

* Ben Boyce and Tony Bonds handled the snapping chores by splitting time fairly equally between the first two units, but Harris sneaked in a few reps here and there in pass protection drills. He seemd to hold up well in a pass pro drill versus senior DT Michael Bozeman. It was full speed and Darryl looked like he was moving pretty well, an encouraging sign. He did not practice after that period, however, in the team drills.

* In athe secondary today, Nate Banks and Dustin Mouzon - cast on his arm and hand notwithstanding - worked quite a few snaps at the number one corner slots. It looked like a just-in-case type of coaching move more than a change in the depth chart. Travis Johnson and Trumaine McBride are still expected to be the starters Monday.

* Senior Corvelli Haynes continues to hang on to his number one standing at LEO over RS frosh Chris Bowers. On the other side at DE, however, it appears Viciente DeLoach has overtaken frosh Lamark Armour for the number two spot behind senior Jayme Mitchell.

* Dedrick Clark, who has been working some on the offensive line the past two days, slipped back on defense as a DT on the number two goalline unit.

* Bryant Thomas has been injured most of August, but today he was working with the number two defense at free safety while B. Brown was splitting some snaps with Charles Clark with the one defense.

* The Rebs had one period of blitz drill and it had a somewhat different result from normal. A good portion of the time this fall, the defense would get to the QB quite a bit in this drill, but today the OL protection was very effective. The secondary, however, took up the slack with very good coverage, breaking up some passes and maintaining tight man coverage on most of the allotted snaps.

* In team hurry-up (two-minute) drills, the one ofense was led to a 42-yard Matt Hinkle field goal by Spurlock, who completed passes of 7 and 12 yards to Taye Biddle and had a 8-yard keeper in between. . . When the twos took the field, Robert Lane was picked off by Bryant Thomas on a pass deflected by CB Dustin Mouzon. . . When the ones came back on the field, Spurlock immediately connected with Biddle on a 75-yard catch-and-run for a TD that ended practice.

* We talked briefly with senior Left Tackle Bobby Harris after practice about the progress of the OL and his August camp.

" We are a work in progress, but I've seen a lot of improvement in the past week or so. Some of the inexperienced guys are grasping what they are expected to do now - like Traxler and Thomas Eckers," he noted. "I think Wick's going to be ready to go Monday and that will help us a lot. I believe we will do a good job on Monday. Tre' (Stallings) and I have had excellent August camps and we are both healthy. Right now, I don't have any complaints."

* The Rebs will practice in shorts and shirts tomorrow morning from 8:30-9:30.

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