Ole Miss Football Coach Houston Nutt has a "theme" to his coaching style that he touches on every day. One heartbeat.
That's what he wants everyone under his guidance to have - one heartbeat, one goal, one collective breath.
"We are all in this together. We have to develop one heartbeat," Nutt said during a chilly practice on the practice fields, attended by over 80 area coaches for the first coaching clinic under Nutt at Ole Miss.
That means getting better every day in practice, which he is starting to see.
"We're getting better. The guys have a good attitude and they are trying to fight through some soreness," Houston said after the 2-hour workout. "We are challenging them to run through the cutoff switch. I know they are sore, I know we are hitting a bunch, but it's all about the next play.
"A lot of them are taking some steps forward. I am really anxious about the scrimmage tomorrow. We are going to scrimmage more than last Saturday and we are going to study it closer. We are going to put a grade on this one and see who is paying attention and who is going to execute their assignments. We are not going to have any coaches on the field, so they will have to get their signals and do it themselves, so we are excited about it."
Houston said the scrimmage will consist of "30-35 plays for the first team and about 40-50 for the rest."
"I just want to see who we can count on and who knows what right now," he closed. "It's all about where we are nearly halfway through spring training."
The following are some notes we took during the day:
* WR Dexter McCluster continues to impress Nutt. "He can do so much. He's doing good at wideout, punt return and as the quarterback in the Wild Rebel set. He is very, very versatile and effective," said Nutt. At the end of practice, in goalline in, Dexter was at QB running the Wild Rebel set. He faked a handoff and cut inside for a 10-yard score, utilizing his quickness and vision developed as a high school tailback.
* WR Marshay Green has missed all of spring training until today when he dressed out. "He was a welcomed addition. We held him back a little today because he has missed so much, but he looked good in limited work," Nutt noted.
* RT John Jerry missed several days of spring training and then came back for two days. Now, he's out again. "The infection he had came back a little bit, so we are sitting him again. He wants to be out here really bad and is aggravated, but he'll be back soon," said Houston. "We want him well." With Jerry out of the lineup, OL Coach Mike Markuson tried two combinations - Maurice Miller at RT and Rishaw Johnson at RG and Mo at RG and Darryl Harris at RT. Darryl has played the tackle position before, so it was no stretch to see him there again.
* Nutt opted to add a little spice to his secondary today and tried RB Jeremy McGee at cornerback, where the Rebels need help. "We are going to give him a look there. He'll get reps at tailback tomorrow too," Houston stated. "We are just looking really hard at our corner situation." McGee, you will recall, transferred in from UCLA last year and sat out due to transfer rules. He played corner some for the Bruins his only year there. He certainly has the speed and quickness to play the position.
* DE Kentrell Lockett is now weighing 243 pounds, his highest ever. His goal is to weigh 255 by August. Kentrell has been running with the number one defense most of the spring.
* Over 80 area coaches were in attendance today, including Hargrave Head Coach Robert Prunty, who was one of the featured speakers. The planning for the new staff's first coaching clinic came late due to the transition, but the response was very good, all things considered. Several coaches told us it was a very informative day where "we learned a lot of football."
* In the bull-in-the-ring session, the most anticipated matchup pitted DT Peria Jerry against OT Michael Oher. The battle ended in a stalemate, which shows Oher's offseason strength gains have paid off. In year's past, Jerry would win that battle normally, and Peria has definitely not taken a step back in his development.
* In field goal work, PK Josh Shene was 2-3 from 35-40 yard range.
* Got word today that Jerrell Powe has lost down to 357 pounds. His goal is 332 by August. He is on track to reach that goal.
* People ask all the time about players who stick out from an improvement standpoint. Here's one for the inquisitive - RS frosh DT Justin Sanders. He has changed his body for the better, he looks much more physical than he was a year ago and he's drawing the praises of Houston Nutt and Tracy Rocker in a practice setting. If he continues to improve, that is huge news because DT is not a position where the Rebs have an overabundance of capable players.
* DE Greg Hardy continued to make more noise today and was rewarded with a lot of reps at number one DE. After a slow start to spring, Hardy is regaining his form from during the season.
* In team (11 on 11) drills, TB Cordera Eason and FS Johnny Brown had the most violent collision of the day. Both were going full speed and neither gave an inch on the hit. Big time popping of pads.
* Tony Fein appears to have moved ahead of Chris Bowers now at middle linebacker. Tony got all number two reps today behind number one MLB Jonathan Cornell.
* When the Rebels want more speed in the defensive lineup, it appears, they put JUCO DE Emmanuel Stephens on one end and LaDerrick Vaughn on the other. That's some explosion off the edge.
* It is apparent the new Rebel coaches believe in having the fullback as a safety valve on passing downs and senior Jason Cook has made the most of his opportuntiies to catch the ball in the flats. He has shown good hands and the ability to turn upfield for good yardage after the reception. He is also becoming someone QB Jevan Snead likes to go to in the crunch.
* The Rebels will practice in the stadium tomorrow at 12:30 p.m.
Practice Report: Friday
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