Practice Report: Thursday

Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron worked the Rebels out early this morning and then let them go home for Thanksgiving. Today concluded the full-speed workouts for the week. The Rebs report back tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 for their normal Friday walk-through.

After the Rebels concluded their full-speed workouts for the week, Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron expressed satisfaction with the preparations.

"We had a fantastic week of practice. They were into it every day and they prepared hard. Their intensity and energy were excellent," he said.

If this seems like a broken record, it's because it is. Even though the Rebels are 3-8 headed into their final game of the year - Saturday's matchup with in-state rival Mississippi State, they have had very few emotional letdowns in the campaign. We can't recall a "bad" week of practice to date.

Lesser teams might have waved the white towel weeks ago. Not the 2006 Rebels.

How have Ed Orgeron and his staff been able to get them to "drink the water" week after week after week without a lot of tangible success in the form of wins?

"There are a lot of factors," O began. "I brought a system in here that works. It's been proven over the course of time. You have to stay true to certain principles and philosophies. I have stuck to that system - day by day, week by week. I have not budged from it, even when things were not going well and it appeared things weren't working. We have stayed true to it."

For any system to work, the participants have to "buy in." O says they have.

"We've got very good senior leadership. Half our team was new this year and this is all they know. The other half chose to stay here because they realized something good was going on here," he continued. "The ones who didn't choose to stay helped us out by leaving.

"This year, a lot of our moves turned out to be positive. The assistant coaches have totally bought in to the system and they understand it and believe in it."

The system, he said, is not difficult. It's simply consistent.

"There are things we do every Monday, every Tuesday, every Wednesday and so on. Things we know work. And it really is a one day at a time, one week at a time deal," O noted. "It sounds, and is, simple when you have discipline. Discipline to stay with something, even in the rough times, reaps rewards in the long run and we are seeing some of that now."

The losses bother Orgeron, and everyone involved, obviously. But the big picture is becoming clearer by the day and the week.

"We have learned how to compete. We are having fun as a football team. We have done some things in team meetings where guys can express themselves and have fun," Orgeron stated. "They have also experienced a form of success and improvement by being really close to some major wins. Overtime at Alabama, overtime at LSU, Auburn and Georgia decided by a couple of plays. One play away sometimes. That's getting to where we want to be and the players feel that and feed off of it. Nobody wants to lose - that's not what we are here for, but I see big steps being made in us learning how to win and doing the things necessary to win."

The next step?

"Our mantra now is to finish. We focused on 'team' this year. Now we have to finish - finish hard in everything we do," he explained. "We will start to see the kind of results we want when we accomplish that, when we learn how to finish."

Certainly, all Rebel fans hope that motto - to finish - will be applied Saturday against the Bulldogs.

The attitude of the team, O said, has been tremendous.

"Everyone on this team had choices. They chose to be here and they chose to make a turnaround from last year. Some of them have had major turnarounds. Guys like Andrew Wicker and several more have devoted themselves to this team and been leaders," he said. "They followed the lead of our coaching staff. Our staff chemistry is not perfect, but it's close to where I want it. It's so much better than it was last year and the players see that too."

The Rebels have one more shot this year to finish, to taste victory. Appropriately, it's against their in-state rival, Mississippi State.

"I have faith, actually I know, my team is going to put it all on the line Saturday," O closed. "We've had an excellent week of practice and they are hungry to finish a game like they know they can."

In a side note, there has been a lot of talk this week about the quarterback situation.

Orgeron has stated both Brent Schaeffer and Seth Adams have been taking snaps with the number one offense.

Drum roll, please. . . . O said Brent will be the starter in the Egg Bowl.

The Rebels left campus this morning for the Thanksgiving holidays with their families and will return tomorrow for a 2:30 p.m. walk-through practice.

Game time Saturday is 1 p.m. in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

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