The Rebels did some full-speed fine-tuning in shorts and shirts. Afterward, Coach Ed Orgeron was pleased with the effort.
"The guys got here at 7 a.m. and were focused and attentive the entire time," said Coach O. "The smell of football in the South is in the air. We had a beautiful day - I don't know what could be better."
Basically, the plan for today was to run through every conceivable situation that could arise in a football game and to sharpen the execution of offensive plays and defensive sets the Rebs will use against Memphis.
"The guys did a really good job. We were crisp and into it. The players did a good job on substitutions and in running our plays and sets," Orgeron noted. "We want them to go home and relax the rest of the day and come in here tomorrow with business on their minds.
"The whole process the next two days will be a special time for all of us, like it will be every weekend. I'll watch today's practice and get my final thoughts together on Monday's game while spending some time with my family this afternoon. We know what we want to do in the game, but I'll be double and triple checking everything today."
During practice, Orgeron was joking with WR Taye Biddle that he was going to "tackle" him before the day was over. On the last play of the day, a punt return situation, O half-heartedly went for Biddle, who escaped his grasp. The team erupted in laughter.
"I'm glad I don't have to play," Orgeron smiled afterward. "We just wanted to have some fun today and that was a way to give the team a good laugh and to relax them a bit."
* The following Rebels did not practice today, but the status of some of them is still not certain for Monday's opener: WR Burnell Wallace would have to be considered questionable; WR Mario Hill is probable; OL Ryan Jones is out; OT Reid Neely is out; WR Milton Collins is out; DT Peria Jerry is questionable.
* There is still a good deal of uncertainty about the availability of C Darryl Harris and WR Matt Pierce, even though both practiced today in a non-contact workout. Wait and see is the best we can do. Maybe, maybe not.
* The number one offense today, with the rotation players who got number one reps included, was led by QB Micheal Spurlock. The offensive line was composed of LT Bobby Harris, LG David Traxler/Andrew Wicker, C Ben Boyce/Darryl Harris/Tony Bonds, RG Thomas Eckers/Tony Bonds, RT Tre' Stallings, FB Jason Cook, TB Jamal Pittman/Mico McSwain, TE Robert Hough/Lawrence Lilly/Jimmy Brooks, WRs Mike Espy, Taye Biddle, Larry Kendrick, Carlos Suggs and Pierce.
A couple of notes on the offense, based on today's substitutions. It appears McSwain will get reps with Pittman at TB. He was more involved in the offense today than in previous practices, actually splitting time with Jamal. . . It appears the coaches are expecting to use eight or nine offensive linemen pretty liberally, but certainly heat and game conditions will dictate a great deal of that. . . Spurlock got all number one reps today, but there's nothing written that Robert Lane won't get them in tomorrow's walk-through.
* The number one defense today did not change much at all and the rotation of players was more limited than the top offensive personnel. DE Jayme Mitchell, DT Jeremy Garrett/McKinley Boykin, NT Michael Bozeman, LEO Corvelli Haynes, WLB Kelvin Robinson, MLB Patrick Willis, SLB Garry Pack, SS Jamarca Sanford, FS Charles Clark, CB Trumaine McBride, CB Travis Johnson, Nickel Back B. Brown.
A defensive note: Even though the following players did not get any number one reps, look for them to be in the playing rotation: LEO Chris Bowers, DT Brandon Jenkins, WLB Quentin Taylor, SLB Dontae Reed, CB Nate Banks, DE Viciente DeLoach. The availability of Jerry will also be a factor in the rotation up front. . . There could be more, but these are almost certain to get playing time.
* The top punt team personnel will look something like this: Punter Will Moseley, Outside Gunners Terrell Jackson and Mico McSwain, Wing Protectors Jamarca Snaford and Dontae Reed, Personal Protector Jason Cook, Linemen Kelvin Robinson, Chris Bowers, DS Sidney McLaurin, Lawrence Lilly and Patrick Willis.
* The PAT/ FG unit is heavy beef: On the wings are Lilly and Cook, Linemen Traxler, Wicker, B. Harris, DS McLaurin, Stallings, Bonds and Brooks. Today, Spurlock held with the top unit instead of frosh Rob Park and Matt Hinkle and Moseley got the kicking opportunities. Most likely, Hinkle will kick PATs and short FGs, while Moseley will get the long FG opps.
* Today's top kickoff return unit featured deep returners Mike Espy and Taye Biddle, Pack and Antonio Turner next toward the forward wall, Lilly and Bowers around the 35 yard line and the forward wall of Dustin Mouzon, Reed, B. Brown, Keith Houston and Jackson.
* On punt return, Espy was deep and McSwain and Travis Johnson were the outside protectors assigned to slow down the outside gunners of the opposition.
* On special teams, it's important to note the Rebels have no shortage of bodies there and most likely there will be liberal substitutions in most of those positions, again depending on heat and game conditions.
* The Rebs will have a walk-through tomorrow afternoon from 1:30-2:30 and will then load the buses for Memphis. Late tomorrow afternoon, they will tour the Liberty Bowl field.
|Photos by Chuck Rounsaville|