Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt had a motto for the Rebels today prior to the second full-scale practice of the fall camp.
"Lead, follow or get out of the way," Nutt said to the team prior to practice.
After a 2 1/2-hour practice in the August sun, he was pleased that most led or followed and very few got out of the way.
"At times, there were some really good things happening in fundamentals, then we went into a little dip where they felt sorry for themselves a little and we had to push them back up," Nutt stated. "We are preaching consistency. I'm proud of the way they finished and I'm proud of the back-to-back practices."
But now things get a little more difficult. Tomorrow, the Rebs put on shoulder pads and helmets and things heat up to another level as full pads loom in two days.
"We are about to get into the grind and I'm anxious to see how they respond to that grind. It's going to get more physical now and they have to lead, follow or get out of the way," he noted. "So far, overall, not bad. Now let's keep it going.
"Several guys stand out in leadership. Jamarca Sanford, Michael Oher, Mike Wallace, and Peria Jerry of the seniors. Shay Hodge, Cassius Vaughn, Kendrick Lewis are also doing good things, as well as our sophomore QB Jevan Snead. We're going in the right direction, but we have to have more guys leading."
After a disappointing showing yesterday, the wide receivers rebounded with a very good day today.
"They came back. We talked ugly to them last night and this morning. The film does not lie and they responded to it and made some outstanding catches today," said Houston.
But it wasn't just the wide receivers showing up. They performed better, but the offensive line also helped the cause in the passing game.
"The OL protected better today. Tyrone (Nix) mixes a lot of blitzes in his package and gives a lot of different looks. He has the speed over there to do that," Nutt stated. "He jumped on us yesterday and created a lot of confusion that led to turnovers. Today, we picked things up better on the OL and that limited our turnovers and created better balls for our receivers to catch. It all goes hand in hand."
At the end of practice, Nutt called for some extra running. It wasn't his famed overtime period of practice, but it was close.
"That was the baby brother to our overtime period that we will spring on them at the end of some practices," Houston smiled. "We went a gasser and pushed them a little extra to see who is thinking and who is into the game despite being fatigued."
Nutt has mentioned the kicking game several times in the preseason as an area of concern. His early thoughts through two practices in that area?
"The punters did a little better today. We have to get them quicker and more consistent, but they were better than yesterday," he assessed. "PK Josh Shene is doing fine, our snapper is good and our holders are doing well. Rob Park, Justin Sparks and Bryan Powers just have to keep battling at punter."
There was no kickoff work today.
* The "new" running backs have - rightfully - drawn a lot of interest. RB Coach Derrick Nix understands why. "They have athletic ability. That's easy to see, but they have a lot to learn with the intricacies of the game," said Nix. "Right now, Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis have a little more wiggle with their running sytle and Devin Thomas is more of a track guy with a straight-ahead burst. They are just young. Time will take care of their issues."
* Shene was 3-5 from 40-45 yards out today in field goals.
* Watching the DL go through their bag drills, it's easy to pick out the veterans and the rookies, but a couple of the rookies are blending in very nicely, all things considered. Justin Smith, who is now in the 280-pound range, was moved inside to DT and shows good footwork for a freshman learning the ropes. DE Gerald Rivers is all of the 6-5 he was touted to be when he signed and also shows good movement. He's in the 230-pound range right now. With his frame, he can easily hold 250 without hampering his speed. Excellent frame to build on, two promising prospects for the future of the DL.
* Also on the DL, DT Ted Laurent and DT LaMark Armour are both out with knee injuries. Both were at practice today observing. No timeline on their return is known yet. . . With them out, Marcus Tillman remained at DT. Don't be surprised if that move sticks. The coaches like his experience and speed at DT and they want to put their "best 11" on the field. He certainly falls in that category.
* A forgotten man at linebacker is Don Hargroder. After missing all of last season with a knee injury, Hargroder is back. He's way down on the depth chart right now, but he's healthy and willing. We'll see how far he gets on the comeback trail.
* FS Johnny Brown left practice yesterday with an aggravated hamstring pull. He went through some half-speed drills today and was seen stretching most of practice, but he will probably miss more time, Nutt said after practice.
* In spring, Layton Jones showed up on campus as a JUCO QB transfer. Today, he was running with the tight ends.
* As Nutt stated, the wideouts came to play today. Dexter McCluster, Shay Hodge, Markeith Summers, Lionel Breaux and Mike Wallace all caught deep balls in one-on-one drills or pass scale drills. All three QBs threw more vertical routes today and were on target most of the time in passing drills.
* DE Greg Hardy got a small taste of working with the number one unit in team drills, but Kentrell Lockett still got the majority of the number one reps.
* Everyone knows Jevan Snead is the number one QB. That is undisputed and it often leads one to overlook the body of work of the backups, but several times today Billy Tapp and Nathan Stanley made impressive throws on target and on time for nice completions. OC/QB Coach Kent Austin seemed pleased with their work more often than not today.
* There seems to be a battle shaping up at cornerback between Dustin Mouzon and Marshay Green. Marshay appears to be very effective in man coverage, but Mouzon looks to have a better grasp and feel in the different zone coverages. Mouzon's experience might be closing the gap in the race for the starting slot, but that is a long way from being decided. Both, it's already apparent, will get their chances. In the rotation right now, four CBs are playing with the one defense - Green, Mouzon, Cassius Vaughn and Jeremy McGee. Frosh Derrick Herman and JUCO Demareo Marr are taking most of the number two reps for now.
* DE Emmanuel Stephens has a non-stop motor. In fact, we heard a coach call him "Motor Man" today. Right now, it's earned him number one status on a DL with quality competition at all positions.
* While all the preseason hype has gone to the frosh RBs, some defensive players insist it is a mistake to write off Derrick Davis, who is technically still the number two TB. Derrick seems to be regaining the form that made him highly-recruited out of high school despite having a bum knee.
* With Brown out temporarily, FS Kendrick Lewis is making the most of his opportunity. Today, he picked off a deep out pass by Jevan Snead and had a long return off the interception.
* The defense is definitely starting to have a change in their mindset. It's visible at practice. You can see some swagger in their play. "Coach Nix is turning us loose and we are loving it," said Peria Jerry. "We are not going to be the weak link of this team."
* The following is an early two-deep depth chart compiled at practice on the fly. Don't hold us to it yet, but it's pretty close. . . .
Offense: LT Michael Oher, Bradley Sowell; LG Reid Neely, Alex Washington; C Daverin Geralds/Darryl Harris, Brandon Green; RG Darryl Harris/Daverin Geralds, Rishaw Johnson; RT Maurice Miller, John Jerry; TE David Traxler/Gerald Harris, Reggie Hicks; QB Jevan Snead, Billy Tapp, Nathan Stanely; FB Jason Cook, Andy Hartmann; RB Cordera Eason, Derrick Davis, Brandon Bolden/Enrique Davis; WR Rotation - Dexter McCluster, Shay Hodge, Mike Wallace, Lionel Breaux, Markeith Summer, Jacarious Lucas, Andrew Harris.
Defense: DE Emmanuel Stephens, Jermey Parnell/LaDerrick Vaughn; NT Peria Jerry, Justin Sanders; DT Marcus Tillman, Lawon Scott; DE Kentrell Lockett, Greg Hardy; SLB Allen Walker, Patrick Trahan; MLB Jonathan Cornell, Tony Fein; WLB Ashlee Palmer, Lamar Brumfield; SS Jamarca Sanford, Fon Ingram/Terrell Jackson; FS Kendrick Lewis, Johnny Brown (injured), Jared Mitchell; CB Marshay Green, Dustin Mouzon; CB Cassius Vaughn, Jeremy McGee.
We will try to verify this regularly and fill out third team, etc., when we can.
Practice will be at 5:30 p.m. again tomorrow and is open to the public. The Rebs will be in shoulder pads and helmets tomorrow.
Practice Report: Tuesday
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