The Rebels worked out this morning on the practice fields in chilly, windy conditions. Coach Ed Orgeron called for a normal full-pad Tuesday practice, but due to the lack of available players, contact was controlled.
"We had a good day. We started early (9 a.m.) so the guys could have an opportunity to have a little time off this afternoon and tonight," he said. "We had a good run drill, despite not having some of our tailbacks (Mico McSwain, Antonio Turner, Larry Kendrick, and Robert Lane) at practice today due to injury.
"Robert will be held out of all contact this week, even controlled contact, but he should be ready to go Saturday. There is really nothing new on Mico or Larry or Antonio. We don't know what their status is today. Tomorrow is a new day and we hope to know more then and hope to get some positive news on one or two of them."
The offensive staff was so limited that QB Michael Spurlock took some snaps at tailback for the second day, and actually ripped off a couple of nice runs, but Orgeron said he will not be used at TB verus MSU unless it's an emergency.
"We will have Robert back for sure, Jamal Pittman is working at TB and so is Brandon Jacobs. Michael will be for an emergency," he stated.
Orgeron has asked input from two members of his staff to get a feel for the Egg Bowl rivalry - TE Coach Matt Luke and GA Grant Heard. Luke and Heard both played in four Egg Bowls and know the intensity level as well as anyone.
"I wanted to draw from their experiences. What should we expect? What's it like in intensity? They should know as much as anyone. I have been a part of a lot of great rivalries, but not this one and it's important to get their input," he said. "Every rivalry has its own identity and the more I know the better off we will be. They told me it is very heated and there is no love lost between the players. They said to expect the unexpected."
Coach O was asked - for the millionth time - to discuss MLB Patrick Willis.
"Patrick is a coach on the field," he began. "He is everything we want in this program - he's tough, athletic and a student of the game. There aren't many players as tough as him. He's had injuries this season that would sideline the majority of the players in the country, but he refused to let them stop him. He's got what it takes. I've tried to keep him out of some games and he refuses. Nobody can keep him off the field."
* Mario Hill, as Orgeron said yesteday, will miss his final game with a hamstring pull. With him out, look for the wide receiver rotation to include freshman Burnell Wallace and maybe see a little action from Carlos Suggs, who has been used sparingly. If Kendrick is able to come back, you will probably see him get TB and SE duty.
* The Rebs do a daily "fit drill" to start each practice. It's a half-speed defensive drill designed to go over the fits of each player for every play the opposition is expected to run. The Rebel defense is designed for gap control and the player has to fit in the gap and in lanes. It's an excellent drill that gets the defensive players tuned in mentally for the opposition's sets. When practice gets heated up and plays are run full-speed, the players' minds are already tuned in to what's going on. They don't have to think, they just react. The daily fit drill, in our opinion, is one of the major reasons the Rebels are better on defense than they have been of late.
* The Rebels are - as you know - short on bodies at this point in the season. With the injured players not at practice, and the kickers, holders and snappers numbering around 8, there were only - if our count was correct - 55-60 able bodies at practice today available for offensive or defensive work. That means the coaches, out of necessity, are having to run the scout team period differently than earlier in the year. Now, the number one offense goes against the number two defense, which simulates the MSU defensive looks. Then, the number two offense simulates the MSU offense and goes against the number one defense. Not ideal, but doable.
* Jamal Pittman began the season as the number one tailback and it looks as if he might end it that way if some players don't heal. He's excited about another opportunity to get the ball in his hands. "I have liked the transition to fullback, but I feel I have something to prove carrying the ball. I have missed some passes this year that I want to atone for too," he said. . . . Odds are, he's going to get his chance Saturday.
* The only personnel change - besides the tailback situation and Hill's replacement - we saw on the first team offense was LG Andrew Wicker was replaced by Thomas Eckers on the OL. Andrew is a little nicked up, but we expect him back for the game. He is dressing out in practice, but was limited today.
* In field goal work, Matt Hinkle was 4-5, Robert Bass 4-4 and Will Moseley 1-3 from long range. The wind was blowing steadily, affecting Moseley's kicks more than the shorter ones. Basically, it was a pretty good effort for the PKs.
* With Robert Lane out and Spurlock helping out at TB, Ethan Flatt took all QB reps in team drills. He directed both the one offense and the two offense. The passing game, today, was not very crisp in team drills. Hopefully, that will pick up as the week continues.
* The Rebs will practice in the morning again tomorrow.
Practice Report: Tuesday
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