Practice Report: Thursday

For the second day in a row, the Rebels were thankful for the Inddor Practice Facility. Steady rains in the Oxford area forced Ole Miss inside for today's practice session. Read about it inside.

After heavy rain in Oxford today, Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron said TGFTIPF - thank goodness for the Indoor Practice Facility, where the Rebs practiced for the second day in a row.

"We practiced inside again today and had a pretty good Thursday workout," Coach O noted. "I thought the guys practiced well this week. We got (RG) John Jerry back today and some others we got back this week continued to practice well. That gives as a little depth in some areas, which is good."

Coach O and his staff have been playing a lot of musical chairs this year due to injury and other personnel matters, but that has not hampered them, Coach O said.

"You just have to have a plan and a system and stay within that system. If not, things will go haywire," Coach O stated. "You just do what you have to do this time of the year.

"I have faced a lot of new experiences this year. I have not been through a year with a team that's been so thin with all the injuries and things, but I think we have adjusted to it well."

The media has been repeatedly asking Coach O about a replacement for SLB Garry Pack, who was dismissed from the team. He laughed and said he was going to "break down and give it to you" today.

"I'm finally going to tell you. You guys have been asking me every day," he smiled. "Jamarca Sanford will be the SLB. You already knew it, but I'm making it official. And Jonathan Cornell will play there too. Jamarca was going to play LB for us when I first got here. He's done well, but he has to prove it in the game.

"He's tough. The SS plays up on the line a bunch in our defense, so that has helped him in the transition. How much Jonathan plays will depend on how Jamarca is doing."

Coach O was asked why he didn't go with Cornell, who has been backing up Pack.

"Jonathan is ready, but we didn't want to put everything on a true freshman there and we had to have another linebacker to play," he said. "Sam LB is a big load for a freshman and I didn't want to do that to him yet.

"We also wanted to put our best 11 defenders on the field. We met as a staff and said 'this is our best 11 - let's find positions for them.' That was what went into the decision-making."

With Jamarca moving to SLB, senior B. Brown will take over the starting duties at SS with frosh Jamal Harvey backing him up.

"B. will be the strong safety because of his experience, but Jamal will play too. It helped us in making the decision on Jamarca's move that B. is a seasoned player who has been playing well and he can step in for Jamarca at SS," Orgeron explained.

Coach O said John Jerry looked "OK" today as did some other players who returned from injury this week - TE Robert Lane, and OTs Darryl Harris and David Traxler.

"John should be ready to start at RG and we think some of the other guys can help us. They've looked alright in their comebacks. We'll see how they are physically - they will get their shots," he said.

Coach O was asked what a win over Auburn - or any "big" win - would mean to his program.

"It would get us over the hump. We are still looking for that play and someone who is going to make that play that is going to help us win that big game," he said. "In a big game, you have to go into halftime where you are close, which gives you a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter. We've done that a couple of times. If we had made a couple of second-half plays against Georgia or Alabama, we win. It's going to happen again Saturday."

Coach O said it has not been disappointing or frustrating to have been so close and not come away with that benchmark win this year.

"It hasn't been disappointing. It's been encouraging to me. To be able to play some of those guys the way we have with some of the young players we are playing, especially Alabama in their stadium, has been very encouraging to me," he assessed. "Think about it. We still have not played a game where we have had all three phases of football clicking and we've been real close to winning some games.

"And sandwiched in there we picked off a good Vanderbilt team, so that's something. That was a good win for us at this time in our program. There's no doubt, though, that a win over a Top 25 program would do wonders for us."

Coach O said he's had to be careful in practices lately of not overworking his players due to not having enough depth.

"We are in good condition, but I still have to be careful not to overwork these guys in practice because we don't have a lot of depth. You know me - I want to go, go, go, but I have to be careful because our second team is basically our scout team. We do not have a second-team defense with all scholarship players so we have to watch the number of reps we give these guys," Coach O closed. "When you look at the schedule we have had, we have to be very careful of the kids not hitting the wall. They have a lot on their plates - school, tests, football - and it can mount up on these guys. We want to alleviate that the best we can.

"We have gotten a few guys back this week, which has helped, but we still have to be careful."

The Rebs will have their normal walk-through practice tomorrow before loading a bus to Tupelo where they will spend the night.

As usual, there will be no practice report on Friday.

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