"We had another good day of practice. The guys were in great spirits again today," said Rebel Coach Ed Orgeron after Wednesday's full-pad practice in preparation for the 8 p.m. battle with Georgia this Saturday in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. "They paid attention to detail and we had a good day on special teams.
"Everything was very positive. Guys are bouncing around and responding to what we are doing this week. I see guys giving it all they've got and laying everything on the line this week."
Orgeron praised the defense yesterday and again today, even though he said the offense played them a little more even this time around.
"Some of the older guys stepped it up, like Patrick Willis. The defense had a fantastic day yesterday and another good one today. The defense dominated yesterday, but today it was back and forth with the offense winning some battles, which is a good sign," Orgeron stated.
Yesterday, Coach O mentioned that WLB Rory Johnson would play significantly more this weekend.
"Rory practiced with the number one defense most of yesterday and all day today and he did pretty good. He's still got some work to do this week, but like I said yesterday, we're putting him in there and seeing what he can do," Orgeron noted.
While the tempo of the team has risen, the injury list has not improved. In fact, it's grown a little to include RT David Traxler, who will not play against Georgia. Traxler replaced Darryl Harris last week, who was injured in the Kentucky game and is also out.
"Peria Jerry, Jeremy Garrett, Darryl Harris and David Traxler will not play against Georgia," he said.
Last week, when asked who would back up Traxler, Coach O said if anything happened to David, Andrew Wicker would most likely move to RT from LG and Thomas Eckers would move up to the number one LG spot in Wicker's place. He did not verify that today.
O was asked, hypothetically, if Jerry does not improve could he still redshirt this year?
"We will find out. We think he can redshirt because he has played in less than 40% of the games. We're just playing it day by day with him," he answered. "If he doesn't get well, we will explore his redshirt options."
Has the DL improved this week? O says he can see some improvement, but he's still in a mess depth-wise.
"The first time Brandon Jenkins played this year, he was out of his gap about 90% of the time. Last week, against Wake Forest, he was in his right gap 75-80% of the time, which is an improvement. Hayward Howard has made some improvement too, but in our defense, the NT and DT have to be our bell cows and we aren't there yet," he explained. "If we break down again there with another injury and we had to put someone in, it would be Daverin Geralds and he's nowhere close to being ready.
"Our plan was to have Peria and the player I can't mention who didn't qualify and Patrick as the centerpiece of our defense, but it didn't work out that way. We are doing the best we can and will continue to."
The Bulldogs are considering using a two-QB system. That seems to be the least of Coach O's worries.
"We have to tackle their tailbacks first. I don't see them doing a lot of different things scheme-wise regardless of who they put in there of the two quarterbacks they are playing," said Orgeron. "One options a little more and one is more of a dropback passer, but I don't think there is a lot of difference overall."
Colorado hurt Georgia with their tight end being active in the passing game, something Ole Miss has been trying to get done. Does he expect that to be an open option for the Rebels or something he expects the Bulldogs to shore up before Saturday?
"They are a good defense. They are only giving up 6.25 points per game, so whateve they got hurt with didn't hurt them too badly," he smiled.
On offense, O said he looks for WR Michael Hicks to get more playing time and possibly earn a start.
"He will play a lot and will probably start. We still have decisions to make, some gameplanning to do and some work to do in practice, but Michael has looked good this week so far," Orgeron stated. "I think eventually he will be a tight end and be a good one."
The Rebels are working hard to get ready for Georgia and O believes they are making some advances.
"Within the IPF, we are very positive. The team believes in itself. We know there have been some struggles, but we are going to fight and we are going to get after Georgia," Orgeron added. "We are going to be ready. We are going to stay positive the whole season. We are going to remain a tight team and give it our best shot."
Practice Report: Wednesday
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