Ole Miss Football Coach Ed Orgeron called today's final full-speed preparations for Saturday's game with Auburn on the Plains "excellent," and also said the week was "what we needed."
The Rebels worked for roughly an hour and a half in shorts and helmets. It was a perfect day for football except for a stiff wind that quartered the practice fields and made throwing and kicking the ball difficult.
Normally, the Rebs practice in shoulder pads and helmets on Thursdays, but Orgeron opted to leave the shoulder pads off for the same reason the Rebs did not work in full gear yesterday (they were in shells). It's late in the season and there is no need risking any more injuries.
"The guys have been in good spirits all week and have had some very productive practices. Today was an excellent way to end the full speed work this week," Orgeron noted.
* TB Mico McSwain, who has not practiced this week, did dress out today and he did take some reps with the number one offense. Antonio Turner and Larry Kendrick also took snaps with the number one offense. McSwain is hampered by a sore shoulder, but today's practice indicates he will play against the Tigers. Whether he is 100% or not remains to be seen, but he did not look concerned with the shoulder in today's work.
* Kendrick appears to have a better grasp of tailback and zone running now and continues to find seams and lanes to run in. Last spring, when he was running some TB, he seemed tentative and unsure of what he was doing, but lately he has looked more confident and decisive. As we said yesterday, he has shown good ability to make the first - and sometimes second and third - defenders miss him.
* Robert Lane continued getting plenty of reps at fullback, tight end and out wide. He said yesterday that he is getting more and more comfortable at those positions and should be ready to take on more responsibility against the Tigers. Practice this week has verified that opinion as he continues to make plays in practice, particularly on the receiving end of passes.
* LEO Corvelli Haynes (shoulder) practiced today with the number one defense and is expected to start against Auburn after missing quite a bit of practice this week. Coach O discussed yesterday trying to make an adjustment at LEO since Haynes was iffy and Chris Bowers (knee) is out at least this game, but he said after practice that was not feasible. "We looked at some things to try and shore up that position, but it's too late. We just have to keep our fingers crossed that Corvelli will be able to handle it," he said. . . Sophomore Viciente DeLoach and true frosh Lamark Armour have been working at the LEO with Haynes and Bowers out, but neither made the kind of impact the coaches were hoping for.
* Once again, the situation at offensive left guard seems up in the air a little. Today, junior Andrew Wicker took most of the number one reps and sophomore Thomas Eckers, who has started the past two games while Wicker was nursing a shoulder injury, was with the number two offense. Earlier this week, Eckers was getting more number one reps. It appears both will play and Eckers will probably be the swing guard, subbing for frosh Michael Oher at RG and Wicker at LG.
* During stretch today, Coach O - as he usually does on Thursdays - threw out a challenge or two to get the Rebs thinking. "Hey, Tre' (Stallings), I read in the paper where big (DE Stanley) McGlover is saying this game will be a stat game for him - a game to pad his stats. What do you think?" . . . "No, sir - never happen," the senior co-captain responded. . . "Big Michael (Bozeman), Kenny Irons wants some of our DL!". . . "He can have all he wants," Boze noted. . . Nothing like a challenge for motivation.
* The Rebel defense spent a lengthy period honing their fits and assignments against the scout team during full-speed drills. "We can't have busts against them - it will be all about the fits," said DT McKinley Boykin yesterday. "Auburn has a good enough team without you giving them anything cheap. We will have to play error-free defense in our fits and assignments. We feel we know what they are going to do and we know where to be, it's just a matter of execution and being men in the trenches."
* Freshman Rob Park, with a strong crosswind, punted four times for a 39.8 yard average, in "live" work today.
* Senior TB Brandon Jacobs practiced for the third time this week, but his reps have been limited as he works his way back into health/shape. Hopefully the open week will help him get back on track so he can make some contributions the last three games of the year.
* The offense struggled today in team drills and in two-minute drills due to the wind affecting the throws of the QBs pretty drastically. That and the defense seemingly tuned in made sustained drives non-existant, but the offense - with crowd noise blarring loudly - did do a much better job managing the clock and avoiding penalties.
* Junior QB Ethan Flatt continued to direct the number two offense in practice today, but we keep hearing Lane is still the number two QB should something happen to Spurlock. Hopefully, Michael will have a good performance and we won't have to find out the answer.
* Senior WLB Kelvin Robinson and sophomore DT Jeremy Garrett - who were both in Blue jerseys earlier this week - look to be ready to roll against Auburn.
* The Rebels will have their Friday walk-through practice at 10:45 a.m. and then will load the bus for Auburn. We will not have a practice report tomorrow.
Practice Report: Thursday
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