Practice Report: Monday

If you drew up a perfect day for spring football, today would be it. Sunny, bright and not too hot as the final week of spring training began on the practice fields.

Ole Miss Football Coach Houston Nutt put the Rebels through a 2-hour "correction day" in shorts, helmets and shoulder pads under sunny skies on the practice fields today (Monday).

After reviewing the film from Saturday's big scrimmage, there were some things that needed "fixing."

"We had good focus today. We only had one ball on the ground, there were no problems with the center exchanges and things were cleaner today," Nutt said. "Again, I appreciate the effort these kids are giving us. Their attitude has been good. We are not there, but we are coming. We just have to keep on coming, keep on getting better."

Nutt was a little disappointed in the play of the offense Saturday, but he backed off of that a little today after watching the scrimmage tapes.

"I have to give the defense more credit. They were flying around out there making things happen and they made it hard for us to maintain blocks on the offensive side of the ball," he continued. "That's OK. That's a good feeling to have from a team standpoint."

Notes:

* Houston was asked about OLB Allen Walker, who continues to stand out in practices. "He's been our most consistent backer thus far. He's been very steady and I have been real proud of how he's competing.". . . Walker says he has a new lease on life. "I think I was in the doghouse with the last coaches. I had some academic issues and was just kind of put on the back burner. I won't make those mistakes again," Walker noted. "The new coaching staff has given me a chance to show what I can do and I'm taking advantage of it. Being from Mississippi and sitting on the bench for two years has been frustrating. Now it's my time to shine and I want to take advantage of it. I have also matured. I am focused and determined not to make mistakes like I did when I first got here." Allen is happy with the LBs this spring. "Some people thought we were going to be one of the weak points of the team but I think we will be a strength. We have good speed and we get each other's backs," he continued. "We're getting better coaching now. We are catching on quicker and doing what we are supposed to do. I feel good about where we are. We've still got work to do, but we'll get it done because we are all on the same page now."

* LT Michael Oher has been steadily progressing in spring, fine-tuning his game and becoming more physical. "The last 10 days, Mike has come on. At first, I didn't like his physicality because he's such a big man and should be dominating. I think he was just feeling his way," Nutt stated. "The last few days, however, he's turned up the heat and has improved. I know he can dominate from that left tackle slot, like Sean Andrews did at Arkansas. I see similarities in the two."

* RT John Jerry still did not practice and, Nutt said, he's out for the rest of spring. "The biggest disappointment in spring has been the loss of John Jerry," said Houston. "John is going to have to undergo surgery probably to stop a reoccurring problem. He will be back soon though.". . . FB Dan Hoffman is out for the spring and had to have his knee operated on. . . FB Andy Hartmann also sustained a knee injury, but he will not require surgery, according to Nutt.

* DT Peria Jerry has been the best player on the defense, not just on the defensive line, and Nutt said it's no accident. Jerry has lost down to 290 pounds and it's helped his quickness. "Peria has been a real leader for us. He has not taken one lazy step. He has worked really hard and has become our leader on defense. He's a really fine football player," Nutt said. . . . Jerry said he's excited about what's happening. "I feel a lot faster and quicker at 290," he said. "I feel real good about the way the defensive line is progressing. We are learning some new things and making things happen. I think we are going to be solid up front. What we are doing is similar to what we did last year - a one-gap defense. We are just learning some different keys, which is not hard." Peria is pleased with his inside running mate, NT Ted Laurent. "I'm high on Ted right now. He has worked hard and lost some weight. He's looking good there. Right now, I'm not getting doubled as much as before with him in the lineup," Jerry closed.

* We reported last week that Chris Strong was moved inside from DE to DT. Nutt commented on the move today. "We are experimenting with Chris on the inside and, from what I saw, he looked good," Nutt stated. "We'll see how that pans out, but the early signs are good."

* The offensive began spring training more "meekly" than Nutt or OL Coach Mike Markuson wanted, but since then they have hardened some. "Coach Markuson will have them playing tougher by the end of two-a-days," Nutt said. "They have it in them, they were just tentative at first because they were learning him and learning the schemes and techniques. I can see them coming around now and it will only get better."

* In Saturday's scrimmage, Cassius Vaughn and Marshay Green were the number one corners. Today, Dustin Mouzon had moved ahead of Vaughn and was paired with Marshay with the ones. Jamariey Atterberry and Vaughn were playing with the two defense. It is apparent Marshay is starting to get some of the techniques down and is becoming more effective daily. He made several plays on the ball in one-on-one pass drills. He very obviously has the quickness, speed, hips and competitiveness to man the corner position. The experiment seems to be going well.

* Fon Ingram started out spring at corner but now he's moved to safety for the time being. We'll keep you posted on his progress. Currently, he's working with the twos and the threes while figuring everything out.

* SS Jamarca Sanford had his first interception of the spring, cutting in front of a crossing route and taking the pick back for a score. Nice play and overdue from the senior, who is one of the leading candidates for the Chucky Mullins Courage Award to be given out Friday night.

* Gerald Harris is starting to make his presence known more and more at tight end. In team (11 on 11) today, he rumbled over the middle and made a great catch of the Jevan Snead pass that he had to stretch out for. It went for a 35-yard score.

* TE Coach James Shibest is also starting to work in converted DL Ben Benedetto more and more and converted FB Reggie Hicks is also getting some snaps in passing downs at TE. It's good to see those two getting more chances because until recently the Rebs were limited to Harris and David Traxler getting all the reps and two TEs are not enough for the season.

* WR Lionel Breaux continues to make an impact in the wide receiver rotation. He seems to be a favorite target of both Snead and Billy Tapp. He and Markeith Summers have added some valuable and effective depth to the WR slots this spring. While they have been surprises, what hasn't been a surprise is that Mike Wallace, Shay Hodge and Dexter McCluster are shining as the top three players at wideout and they are all having excellent springs.

* After an "off" day Saturday, Snead was back on target in today's practice. His completion percentage had to be in the 65% range today.

The Rebs will resume practice Wednesday at 4 p.m.

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