The Rebels held their first full-contact scrimmage in the stadium today in front of roughly 400 enthusiastic fans.
For the most part, Coach Houston Nutt was pleased with the outcome. There was only one major sticking point - injuries and those injured not being able to participate.
"Our attitude has been great and I love the way we are going about doing things, but we just have to get better and that's hard to do with so many mising time," said Nutt. "We have too many players on the sidelines and that's one thing you hate as a coach. Allen Walker went down the first series and hopefully, he's like Peria, we'll get him back in about 10 days. But our sidelines are getting too full.
"It's a violent game and we probably scrimmage less than a lot of people, but you still have to be physical. We try to accomplish that by not tackling to the ground during the week and having full contact only on Saturdays, but you have to tackle some. You just have to."
Besides the injury lament, Nutt quickly went into what went right.
"First of all, our young running backs are showing up - Brandon Bolden, Enrique Davis, Devin Thomas. They are doing a real good job. Cordera Eason and Derrick Davis are solid and know more. I think our RB situation is in good hands," he began. "Also, our offensive line is getting more physical. The group of LT Michael Oher, LG Darryl Harris, C Daverin Geralds, RG Maurice Miller and RT John Jerry is a good group. They are really gelling and asserting themselves, and we are starting to build some depth with guys like Bradley Sowell and C Brandon Green is working hard."
On the defensive side of the ball, Nutt began his praise with senior SS Jamarca Sanford.
"He's a winner, a sure tackler and a leader. Ashlee Palmer has been our most consistent linebacker," he noted. "I have to watch the film for the rest of it, but I know we are somewhat depleted on the DL with three DTs and a DE out for now."
Nutt said yesterday he was going to keep a close eye on the tackling of the defense. His impression?
"For the first time, not bad. We had some missed tackles, but overall not too bad, not too bad at all," he assessed.
Today, the Rebels were going ones against twos, so some of the outcome and results were skewed a bit, but the offense showed big-play ability with QB Jevan Snead at the helm.
"You have to score points in this league. It takes everyone and we've got a long way to go and a long time to get better, but I saw some real good throws by Jevan today," Nutt stated. "What is so good about him that fans in the stands don't see is how many times he got us out of a bad play at the line of scrimmage by checking into a good play. He's further along in that area than I thought he would be. That's a real quarterback that can do that this quickly and I have to give credit to Kent Austin for his progress. He's done a great job.
"Jevan has been very accurate with the long ball and was throwing strikes most of the day."
The top wide receivers got limited aciton for precautionary reasons and to take a look at some of the guys on the edge of the rotation. (Mike Wallace also tweak his hamstring that has been bothering him a little, but he's expected to be fine in short order.)
"We got some good snaps out of Markeith Summers, who is getting more consistent, Jacarious Lucas, who makes plays every day, Andrew Harris and a couple of others," Houston added. "After next week, we will start whittling down reps to the top two units, so we are going to watch this film hard to make some personnel decisions before we zero in on a solid two deep."
* As Nutt said, the injury list has grown. Today, these players did not practice: LB Don Hargroder (concussion), DT Ted Laurent (knee), DT LaMark Armour (knee), DT Peria Jerry (knee), SS Johnny Brown (hamstring), FS Kendrick Lewis (ankle), DE Greg Hardy (foot), LG Reid Neely (Achilles tendon). . . Rishaw Johnson worked through a high ankle sprain taht was heavily wrapped today. . . Also, as Houston said, Allen Walker tweaked his knee today and missed most of the scrimmage.
Peria is supposed to be out about 2 weeks (Nutt said he was "pushing it" with his 10-day remark about Peria.). . . Brown is supposed to be back next week as is Lewis. . . Don Hargroder should only miss a couple of days more as well. . . There is no definite word on Hardy, Laurent, Neely or Armour.
* DE David Densmore has quit the team.
* In pass scale prior to the scrimmage, Snead and the receivers were on fire. On the very first play of practice on the practice fields, Snead found Wallace for a long score on a bomb and the same thing happened in the scrimmage. The speedster got behind the defender and Jevan threw two perfect strikes. . . . Also in pass scale, Snead and Lionel Breaux hooked up twice for plays that covered roughly 25 yards each.
* Trying to construct the depth chart with so many players out during a scrimmage is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, but what we were able to note were the following: With three tackles out, freshman Justin Smith and Marcus Tillman are handling the first team jobs backed by Justin Sanders, Lawon Scott and Jerrell Powe. Antonio Turner also took some DT snaps in the scrimmage. . . . With Kendrick Lewis and Johnny Brown out at FS, freshman Jared Mitchell is manning the post with the top unit. Today he made a pair of beautiful open field tackles but was burned on a deep post pattern by Wallace on the opening play of the scrimmage. . . With Walker out at LB, Lamar Brumfield moved up to start and Scottie Williams took his slot on the second team. DC Tryone Nix moved Palmer to SLB and brought Lamar up to Will. . . . With Hardy out, Chris Bowers, LaDerrick Vaughn and Jermey Parnell each moved up a notch behind starters Kentrell Lockett and Emmanuel Stephens. Bowers and Vaughn were number twos today. . . And as you know, Neely was replaced by Darryl Harris at left guard.
* The number threes looked like this on defense: DE Jermey Parnell and Gerald Rivers, DTs Powe and Turner, LBs Marques Jenkins, Jason Jones and Scottie Williams most of the time pulling double duty, CBs Marcus Temple and Derrick Herman and S Rudy Wilson and Demareo Marr.
* Marr is being looked at some at free safety for now. We'll keep you posted on how that develops.
* Perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the day was the field goal kicking by both Josh Shene and Bryson Rose, who did not miss any of the 10 or so kicks we saw from various ranges, and the punting by both Rob Park and Justin Sparks. . . "We have put a lot of pressure on those guys to get it done and they responded today. They just have to keep it going," said Nutt. "We can't go out and sign any more this year, so they have to perform, and they are starting to take that to heart based on today's results."
* The best hit of the day was a collision between freshman RB Brandon Bolden and MLB Tony Fein. Brandon cut through a hole up the middle and was met head-on by big Fein. Neither gave an inch with the loud thud. . . Second best hit also included Bolden. This time he was on the receiving end from Sanford and was stopped in his tracks, but he popped right up. Nutt was anxious to see how the young RBs responded in full contact and we're sure when he sees the film he's going to have a smile on his face.
* Even though it's unlikely they'll play much, the third OL was LT Josh Tatum, LG Zack Brent, C Brent Smith, RG Don Mosley and RT Terry Freeman. We've seen a lot worse number three OLs in our tenure at Ole Miss. Behind them, the three offense was able to make some pretty good plays today against the three defense.
* Nutt did not run Eason or Davis much today in favor of seeing how the young RBs would do in full contact. Also, the top receivers - Wallace, Hodge and McCluster - were used in a limited capacity.
* Dustin Mouzon seems to be distancing himself from Marshay Green in one CB battle. Mouzon and Cassius Vaughn appear to be separating themselves from the pack with their performances of late at the CB slots.
* Summers, Richie Cantartesi and Wallace all had TD catches. Summers' and Richie's were in the Red Zone.
* The Rebs are set for a short walk-through tomorrow that will include lots of kicking game work. Then the "grind" will start again Monday. Practices from this point on are closed to the public with the possible exception of the scrimmage after Meet The Rebels Day next Saturday.
Stats from Saturday scrimmage:
Jevan Snead was 12-of-16 for 215 yards and two touchdowns, while Billy Tapp was 3-for-7 for 41 yards and Nathan Stanley was 2-for-4 for nine yards with one interception and one touchdown.
Ten different Rebels caught those 17 with Jacarious Lucas leading the way with four catches for 50 yards. Dexter McCluster had two for 53 yards, Markeith Summers two for 35 yards and a TD reception from Snead, and Lionel Breaux two for eight yards.
On the scrimmages' last play, Richie Contartesi caught a touchdown pass from Stanley. Others who caught passes on the day were Mike Wallace with a scrimmage-opening 65 yards bomb from Snead for a touchdown, Shay Hodge, Jason Cook, Andrew Harris, and E.J. Epperson.
Enrique Davis had 10 carries for 33 yards and two touchdowns to pace the ground attack. Brandon Bolden had seven carries for 27 yards. Others were Markus Crockett with four for 23, Derrick Davis four for 12, Devin Thomas with three for 6, Cordera Eason two for 12. With just one carry apiece were McCluster (3 yards), Breaux (3 yards), Cook (no gain), Andy Hartmann (no yards), Snead (-7 on a sack), Stanley (-7 on a sack), and Tapp (-10 on a sack).
Leading tacklers on the day were Jonathan Cornell and Jared Mitchell with four each. Jeremy McGee, Lamar Brumfield, Marshay Green, Jamarca Sanford, and Ashlee Palmer had three apiece.
Kentrell Lockett had two sacks, while Tony Fein had a sack and two additional tackles, and Demareo Marr had an interception and a tackle.
Scrimmage Report: Saturday
OM Spirit Top Stories
ScoutTV: Phil LongoOle Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo is pleased with the progress of the Rebel offense through eight spring practices, from running back Jordan Wilkins and quarterback Shea…
OM SpiritYesterday at 10:20 PM
Spring Football: Photo Gallery XIOle Miss returned to the practice fields off of spring break with a week of full-pad practices. Now the Rebels are set to usher in week No. 4. Photos courtesy of Petre Thomas.
OM SpiritSaturday at 10:00 PM
Marquee MarquisThere's no doubt senior Rebel DE Marquis Haynes is a marquee player for the Ole Miss defense and it was important for the team that he decided to come back for his senior year…
OM SpiritSaturday at 10:00 PM
UA Dallas: Defensive PreviewScout identifies some of the top-rated defensive prospects expected to compete at Sunday's Under Armour Dalllas regional camp.
Scout FootballSaturday at 2:50 PM