Practice Report: Thursday

Ole Miss Head Football Coach Ed Orgeron put the Rebels through a workout in shells this afternoon after a light practice this morning. He liked the look of the offense in the afernoon session. Read about it inside.

The Ole MIss Football team had two workouts today - a "light one" in helmets this morning and a more extensive workout in shells this afternoon, according to Rebel Coach Ed Orgeron.

"We had two practices today, a light one this morning after our scrimmage yesterday afternoon and a practice in shells this afternoon," said Coach O. "Our morning workout consisted of working on the two-minute operation and a couple of more situations in the kicking game we have not covered until today. We finished our installation of different parts of the kicking game.

"This afternoon we got after it pretty good. The offense got the better of it this afternoon. They ran the ball well and made some good plays."

Coach O had a couple of more tidbits about yesterday's scrimmage after watching the film last night, but he basically echoed what he said in yesterday's post-practice press gathering immediately after practice.

"I was really pleased with the way the defense played in the scrimmage. Especially when Patrick (Willis) was in there. He was tremendous. He made a lot of plays. The defensive line came along - Hayward Howard did a good job. He's not back to where he needs to be, but he had a good day yesterday," Coach O stated. "Missing that practice time while he was in class took a lot out of him. Hayward is a young player who has only been here in the spring. He has some catching up to do."

Howard was working some at defensive end Monday, but Orgeron said he's working mostly at DT now.

"He's working more at tackle now, but we are also working him a little at DE. We are just trying to find the right combinations and the right spots for everyone," said O. "He needs to be able to play both, I think."

On Willis, Orgeron explained how the coaches are using him right now.

"We are working him enough to see where he is physically and mentally. He's fine. Patrick does most of the stuff with us most of the time, but we are limiting his scrimmage work for safety reasons," he noted.

Orgeron was asked about the left corner slot and the secondary as a whole.

"Nate Banks is doing a fantastic job at LCB," Orgeron noted. "I don't have to look at the secondary a lot. Coach (Chris) Rippon knows his stuff. They are going to have their assignments down, they are going to do the right things. If something is broken, they fix it the next day and we don't see many repeated mistakes back there. It's really a comfort to me to know that and to not have to worry about the secondary."

In the past few days, Coach O has given Justin Sparks the edge in the placekicking department. Today, he said frosh Joshua Shene had a "great day."

"Josh had a fantastic day today. They are battling back and forth," Orgeron said. "That is something that can go on up to the first game and maybe throughout the season. Nobody has solidified the position there so we will have to see how they do in games."

The punting game with Rob Park got an "OK" from Orgeron.

"Rob's worked on hang time and getting a little more distance. He's doing everything he can do," O added.

Coming out of spring, Coach O had concerns about deep snapper. He says those concerns are fast exiting the building, but he hasn't narrowed the job down to one person yet.

"We have three guys who we think can do the job, but nobody has taken over the spot. One guy will do a good job for a couple of days then mess up a snap or two and we try another one. It's still an ongoing process, but there's no doubt I like the candidates," he said. "I think we will be as good as we have been there, no doubt."

O was asked about the difference in special teams this year and last year to this point.

"I see more attention to detail. I see more speed on the field in our return game. I thought our punt protection was pretty good last year, we only had one tipped punt, I think, and we are OK there. I think the field goal kicking is going to be better. We are looking for more consistency there for sure," O continued.

Orgeron is also trying to instill more of an attack mindset on the special teams as well.

"We have the athletes to attack. Now it's a mindset. Do you want to do it or not? You have to take some chances," he said. "We are developing that mindset."

Orgeron was asked about the eligibility status of Rory Johnson.

"We expect to hear something on Rory Johnson in the next couple of days and I expect it to be very favorable to the Ole Miss football team," he said. "Something should happen, but we have to make sure everything is in order.

"We need him. He's very fast on film. He's big and he can run. Obviously, he will probably have to work on his conditioning and he will have to learn the defense."

Orgeron was asked if OL John Jerry was cleared yet.

"No, not yet, but he can still practice," noted O.

It was revealed today that signee LaDerrick Vaughn has been declared a non-qualifier by the NCAA. O was asked about that.

"We are in the process of doing the things we need to do at Ole Miss for that situation. We will do what we need to do, turn it over to the NCAA and they will make another decision," he added. "I think everything should work favorably for him."

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