Four of the top tailbacks on the Ole Miss football team missed practice today, but the Rebs marched on with a solid two-hour workout in shoulder pads and helmets on a crisp, windy day in Oxford.
A day over the midway point in the practice week, Coach Ed Orgeron is pleased with the Rebs' preparation for arch-rival Mississippi State.
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 are doing a lot of good things in practice. The players are into the preparations and are doing a very good job with their focus and intensity," Orgeron noted. "To this point, I am happy with the way things are shaping up, but we have two more important days of practice. We need to keep our focus."
Orgeron also needs a few players to heal up, especially at the tailback position where Mico McSwain, Larry Kendrick, Antonio Turner and Robert Lane still remain on the injured list.
"I think Larry and Robert will definitely be able to play, but they haven't had any practice this week so I'm not sure how effective they can be," Coach O continued.
As a contingency plan, junior Jamal Pittman, senior Brandon Jacobs and QB Micheal Spurlock has all been getting TB reps.
"I said yesterday and the day before that Micheal would probably not play any TB in the game - he was for emergency use, but it appears we might have that emergency facing us. Micheal has looked real good on some plays and has big-play capabilities. His (broken) hand is healed to the point where he can catch the ball now and can secure it, so we feel more comfortable with him back there."
Tonight, the Rebel seniors will eat a Thanksgiving dinner at Coach O's house. Tomorrow, the Rebs will practice at 8 a.m. in a short workout and then the team members will go home until 3 p.m. Friday. The players not able to get home in that short time frame will eat Thanksgiving lunch at O's house.
"We'll have a lot of food, I can promise that," Coach O laughed. "We'll need it with some of these big guys. We'll also have some gumbo. THe practice tomorrow morning will be short. The players need to get home to their families."
* Yesterday, Thomas Eckers was running number one left guard on the first offense in place of Andrew Wicker, who was resting a sore foot. Today, Wicker worked with the number one OL and seems to be ready to go for the Egg Bowl.
* With senior WR Mario Hill (hamstring) out for Saturday's game, it looks as if the Rebels will turn to freshman WR Burnell Wallace to take his place in the rotation. But don't be surprised if Carlos Suggs and Keith Houston, who has been at TE but is now working some at WR, get some reps as well. Wallace had a couple of long TD receptions today in team drills and is faster than Hill. Mario's experience, however, will be missed.
* The Rebs' kickoff return unit took a beating last week against LSU so the coaches are reconfiguring some personnel to see if that can be fixed. The plan? Beefing it up with bigger players like TE Jimmy Brooks, LB Garry Pack, DT Jeremy Garrett, TE Lawrence Lilly and a few more bigger bodies on the second and third layers of blocking.
* With LEO Chris Bowers and DE Lamark Armour still out, it appears the Rebs will turn to Viciente DeLoach and Brandon Jenkins for backup help to Corvelli Haynes and Jayme Mitchell. Several times today Orgeron threw some kudos DeLoach's way after nice plays.
* With Lane not practicing and Spurlock working quite a bit at TB, starting QB Ethan Flatt got most of the reps today with the first and second units. He was "off" yesterday throwing the ball, but had a much better day today, stating "I got more in a rhythm today." Good news.
* In field goal work today, with a crosswind from left to right, Matt Hinkle was 2-4. Nobody else kicked today.
* Last week versus the Tigers, the Rebels had four incidents where Flatt fell down coming out from under center. OL Coach George DeLeone, the OL and Flatt have been working to correct that this week. "There were four separate causes for that, believe it or not. One was the center stepping back on Ethan's foot, both guards stepped on his foot for two more of the times and one was caused by a bad snap exchange," said DeLeone. "We stress stepping forward and proper splits every minute of every day, and that hasn't been a problem this year, but we have stressed it even more since last Saturday. Those are four wasted plays and four minus-yardage plays that can't happen."
* Senior DT Michael Bozeman, as is the case with all the seniors, has never lost to Mississippi State and he'd like to keep it that way. "This is my last game as an Ole Miss Rebel and I want it to be memorable. All the seniors do. This one will leave a taste in your mouth and we want it to be a sweet taste," he stated. "We have never lost to them and we don't intend to. We have to keep the streak going. To do that, we have to have our best effort of the year. We've made a pact to give that."
Practice Report: Wednesday
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