The Rebels took a better step in preparing for the predicted wet conditions at Wake Forest today by working out for half of practice in the stadium during a light rain and half indoors.
The practice session, which focused a lot of attention on ball-handling in wet conditions, was more pleasing to Coach Houston Nutt than yesterday's workout, which left a lot to be desired.
"We had a good day today. We were outside for a while and got some rain and got to work with some wet footballs," Nutt said. "Our scout team really did a good job for us today and that's not easy. Those kids start realizing they aren't playing right now, but they still have to give us great effort even though they may be a little down for now, and they really did that. They did a good job simulating Wake Forest."
Nutt said the word is that the Rebs will play Saturday at 2:30, as scheduled, and he has to prepare the team as if that is going to happen.
"All I can do is prepare the team to play Saturday and get it going. They will let me know if it changes, but I can't worry about that," he said.
There was bad news on LB Don Hargroder today. He tore his ACL in the game against Memphis and will have to get surgery soon. He's out for the season.
"That young man has had the toughest luck. He was really physical on the kickoff team and was really helping us. I hate that," said Nutt. "He did it Saturday."
Nutt said he's looking forward to going on the road with this Rebel squad.
"I like the challenge of the road," said Nutt, who has won some big games in his career on the road. "I like the us-against-the-world mentality. We won't have as many fans as they do and it will be just 70 players and the coaches against most of the stadium. There's nothing like that locker room after the game if you can get that done.
"I always appreciated that as a player and a coach. It's just special to win on the road and I'd like these young men to taste that as we build on this season."
Random Notes -
* Will he or won't he? Normally, that question would require some explanation, but not this week. The full question is will Ole Miss Defensive Tackle Peria Jerry play this week against Wake Forest or not? Right now, there is no definitive answer. Peria dressed out Tuesday and went through some limited drills, prompting Coach Houston Nutt to speculate Jerry might give the team a few snaps this weekend. Today, he was given a little more to do on his comeback trail in the early going of practice, working out in non-contact drills and later in some contact work. He was taking his reps with Ted Laurent on the third team, but that means very little if it's decided he can play, at least some. "He's getting better, but we still don't know yet," said Nutt. Peria, however, said he's ready to go. "I'm going to tell the trainers I am ready. I have not had any pain and I feel I can play. I even went through some contact drills today," he said after practice. "I will be real disappointed if I can't play because I was moving around good today and felt good.". . . Meanwhile, the DT rotation appears very similar to the Memphis game with Lawon Scott and Justin Smith handling one side and Marcus Tillman, Jerrell Powe and Ted Laurent taking care of the other side.
* Junior WR Shay Hodge only caught two passes against Memphis, but he made both count, scoring both times. On his first reception, a 64-yard catch-and-run for a score, Shay showed that while he may not be as fast as Mike Wallace and Dexter McCluster, he can run plenty fast as he outraced two Tiger DBs to the end zone by a comfortable margin. That did not surprise WR Coach Ron Dickerson, who said earlier last week that while Shay won't time well in the 40, he plays the game of football fast. The 64-yarder was prime proof of that statement.
* There are varying opinions on which team the forecasted rain in North Carolina will favor. There are different theories folks subscribe to. The Manning clan, they have told us, likes playing in the rain because they believe it gives the offense an advantage over defenders, who don't know where offensive players are going and have to react to their movement on a slippery surface, but that doesn't tell us much about our game. That's just an offensive viewpoint. We asked Assistant AD for Player Development Danny Nutt his opinion and he said he doesn't have a lot to go on with this Rebel squad, but he said Houston Nutt's teams, historically, have played well in wet weather. "Houston has always prepared his teams with wet-ball drills and lots of different types of ball-handling drills," said Danny. "Taking care of the ball is always his number one theme, but even moreso when the forecast is for rain." Here's hoping history repeats itself because by all early forecasts it will be a wet game.
* DT Justin Sanders, who did not dress out for the Memphis game due to an ankle sprain, was dressed out today doing limited work very similar to Peria Jerry's light load.
* Senior DE Jermey Parnell was getting some second team reps today ahead of Garrett Ryan, who played quite a bit against Memphis. We'll keep you posted if it appears that possible promotion for Parnell is going to hold up all week and into the game against the Demon Deacons.
* In early offensive sets, running plays against no defense, it does not appear the two-deep on the offense has changed any. Cordera Eason was still taking number one reps at tailback in front of Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis. . . Darryl Harris was still ahead of Reid Neely at left guard. Neely said yesterday he is getting better, but he's still not 100% yet.
* First, it was tailback. Then QB in the Wild Rebel set. Saturday night, he even completed a pass. Today, the versatile Bolden was seen fielding punts too. Is there anything this kid can't do? We haven't seen it yet. . .
* Cassius Vaughn twisted his ankle against Memphis and did not play any in the second half. It was thought he was going to be questionable for the Wake Forest game and would not work out much this week. Wrong. He practiced yesterday, heavily taped, and returned to the number one defense today, again heavily taped on his injured ankle. "He looked a lot better today than he did yesterday and we feel he'll be ready for duty," noted Nutt.
Practice Report: Wednesday
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