"We had a bump in the road early this week in practice, but since then, we have done pretty well," said Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron. "I think we are ready to play and are excited about the game. I know we are excited about playing at home for the first time this year. Everyone on this team will be pumped up to walk up through that tunnel and get on the field."
This week has been a bit taxing, personnel-wise, with MLB Patrick Willis, WR Mario Hill and SS Jamarca Sanford expected to be out and QB Micheal Spurlock trying to practice with his boken finger in a split and heavily bandaged, but the coaches have not let it slow down the team.
"You play with who you've got" is how Orgeron put it.
"Who he's got" is freshman Robert Russell at MLB, Robert Lane at QB, B. Brown at SS and apparently Larry Kendrick in Hill's slot.
"Robert (Russell) has made progress this week. You never really know how much until game time, but I'm confident he will be functional. He was last week - with no thoughts of getting to play a lot," Orgeron stated. "Robert (Lane) is ready. He's been ready. He almost started against Memphis. I'm anxious to see how he handles it, but I'm confident in him too.
"Jamarca and Mario are not ready, in my opinion. Jamarca tried to go today, but couldn't. B. has done a good job in his place. He's got experience and is a solid football player who can do a lot of things for you. Larrk Kendrick also had a good week, as did Milton Collins, so we'll see how the wide receiver situation shakes out without Mario."
The experiment with Chris Bowers has not been shelved completely, but he was back at LEO today and ran quite a bit of practice with the number one defense.
"We had Chris at LEO today, but we're not sure what's going to happen with him in the future. We are just trying different combinations to see what fits. One reason we moved Chris back to LEO is that Dontae Reed has done surprisingly well at MLB. He's running around making plays, has good speed and seems to understand the position. He picked it up quickly," Orgeron noted.
Orgeron has respect for Wyoming and believes the Rebs will have their hands full Saturday.
"They have a quarterback who throws extremely well, their vertical passing game is very good. Their young running back is a good football player," Orgeron assessed. "They are very aggressive on defense and they play hard. What we have to do is get a pass rush. We have to do a better job there. I have seen improvement this week, but I'm anxious to see it materialize in the game."
Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone missed having his senior QB running the offense this week, but he was pleased with what he saw out of Lane.
"Micheal was just starting to hit his stride, but I don't know how much we can rely on him with that broken finger and all that tape and padding," he said. "Robert has been getting better since the last two weeks of two-a-days as well. This is a good opportunity to show what he can do. He's had a good week this week. I'm confident in him taking us to a win.
"The big thing I'd like to see, though, is the kind of improvement in the running game that we had between the first and second games to this one. If we improve as much as we did between those two games - we were real close against Vandy on a lot of plays, then I will be happy. I think now that Andrew Wicker, Michael Oher, David Traxler and Thomas Eckers have actually played in a couple of games and understand the pace required that they are getting better quickly. It also helps that we have Center Darryl Harris back this week. I can see the OL starting to come together a little bit. If we can run the ball effectively, that will take a lot of pressure off the QB situation."
* Here's a look at the personnel/injury situation (as of right now): OT Reid Neely out. . . OL Ryan Jones out. . . MLB Patrick Willis out. . . SS Jamarca Sanford doubtful. . . WR Mario Hill doubtful. . . QB Micheal Spurlock available but heavily bandaged. . . FS Charles Clark available.
* The number one OL today had a rotation to it. OTs Tre' Stallings and Bobby Harris were standard fare, but at LG Wicker/Traxler and Bonds rotated and at RG Oher/Eckers rotated. Based on practice, I'd expect all to play, with Traxler possibly kicking outside to give Stallings or Harris a break. Ben Boyce may see some time at center as well, depending on how Harris holds up health-wise.
* Special Teams Coordinator Chris Rippon said he was "pleased" with the kicking game during practice this week, but he wants more production in games, obviously. "Robert Bass did a nice job this week with placements. He hasn't gotten many reps this fall because he's been injured a little, which he didn't even tell us until recently. Will Moseley has the strongest leg, but we'd rather he not do placements, kicking off and punting if we can help it," Rippon noted. "We haven't made final decisions yet, but I like what those two have done this week."
* It appears Alan Abrams will get the nod at tailback against Wyoming, but Mico McSwain, Jamal Pittman and frosh Antonio Turner have all been getting equal reps behind him. It will be interesting to see who goes in when Abrams needs a breather. Our guess? We think Pittman and Mico will get some carries this week and the coaches will go with the hot hand after that. Jamal had a pretty good week of practice and seemed to put himself back in the picture with some physical running during full-pad workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday.
* In teams drills, the pseudo-scrimmage (controlled contact) went down like this: (Ones) Abrams 4 (Mitchell). . . Pass broken up Travis Johnson. . . QB sack Travis Johnson. . . Lane to Abrams 7. . . (Twos) Spurlock pass broken up (Corvelli Haynes). . . Spurlock to Pittman 3 (Dontae Reed). . . Pittman 8. . . Antonio Turner 3 (Dedrick Clark). . . (Ones) Mike Espy 30 run. . . Lane keep for 5. . . QB sack Michael Bozeman. . . Incomplete pass. . . (Twos) Spurlock to Burnell Wallace 8. . . QB sack Peria Jerry. . . Turner 9 run. . . Turner 2 (Reed).
* The final drill was 2-minute offense. The offense had 50 seconds from the 50 yard line and needed a TD to win. . . 1st down - Incomplete pass from Lane to Wallace. . . 2nd down - Incomplete to Kendrick. . . 3rd down - Sack Bozeman. . . 4th down - Lane to Espy 20. . . 1st at 30 - 5-yard penalty on the defense. . . 2nd at 25 - Nate Banks knocked the ball away on blitz. . . 3rd down - incomplete pass. . . 4th down - Incomplete pass pressure Haynes.
* Two former Rebs who have evacuated Houston, TX, were at practice today - Houston Texan OT Todd Wade and Houston Comets Coach Van Chancellor. Glad to have them in Oxford for the game - and safe from Rita.
* The Rebels will have a walk-through tomorrow at 3:45. It will last 45 minutes for those wishing to attend.
|Photos by Chuck Rounsaville|