Apparently, the Ole Miss coaches on the defensive side of the ball have decided to go in a different direction in a couple of positions.
One, junior Marcus Tillman, who has played defensive tackle in the first two games, has been moved back to defensive end on the left side in front of Emmanuel Stephens.
Two, with Tillman's move outside, sophomore Ted Laurent, coming back from summer knee surgery, has moved into Tillman's top DT spot.
Three, Peria Jerry, also coming off knee surgery, worked at DT in front of Lawon Scott, who started the first two games in Jerry's absence.
Last, but not least, Marshay Green was moved ahead of Dustin Mouzon at one of the cornerback slots.
And how about this for an encouraging nugget? DE Greg Hardy was not dressed out today, but he was running about half speed through some bag drills, both straight ahead movement and lateral movement. No grimaces, no strain. Good sign.
"We had a good practice today," said Rebel Coach Houston Nutt. "We tuned in real good on Samford's formations and personnel groupings and we worked real hard on kickoff returns. I have been a little disappointed there - we have to get that corrected. We are giving up too much real estate and field position there. Punt return too.
"For one more week, we are going to stay with the same personnel returning kickoffs, but it has to improve to remain that way."
Brandon Bolden, Cordera Eason and Lionel Breaux have returned most of the kickoffs thus far.
Nutt commented on the juggling of the defensive line.
"We moved Tillman outside and moved Ted and Peria up on the inside," Nutt noted. "We have more depth on the DL now than we did two weeks ago so we felt we could make those changes comfortably. Marcus is so consistent and smart. He's been awesome for us. A lot of young men could not handle moving around like he has. He's been special for us."
Houston was asked if he feels he's giving up a little edge speed with Tillman on the outside.
"We still have Emmanuel and Lockett and Hardy seems to be coming out there, so we still have some quickness outside. We have that handled, we feel," Nutt stated. "Marcus is probably not as fast as you'd like at DE, but he makes up for it in other ways."
Nutt also commented on Marshay moving in front of Mouzon.
"We just want more competition out there. We are trying to push everyone's buttons and see how they respond," he explained. "We want full focus and competition. We aren't kicking anyone out or anything, we are just getting a good hard look at Marshay right now."
Houston was asked about WR Shay Hodge, who has three TD receptions already this season.
"He's a competitor. He has great timing and he's physical. I love Shay's nose for the ball and I want him to have it as much as possible," Nutt noted. "The team was at my house this summer and he's a heckuva basketball player as well. I saw his athleticism - I have seen that live and in person. He and Hardy are the best two hoops players on the football team. If I was starting a basketball team, I'd put Shay on the outside and Greg on the inside and I'd have something to build on."
Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix talked a little bit about the changes on his side of the ball as well.
"We are finally getting some guys healthy. It means a lot to get Ted and Peria healthy. That allows us a chance to get Marcus back at DE to make our DL more solid," Nix stated. "Marcus is very consistent and is a bigger body who can handle the run. He doesn't have as much speed as we would call ideal for a DE, but we can count on him to do the right things and make plays and he'll get enough rush to be effective."
Tyrone assessed the linebacker play through two games.
"They were a whole lot better against Wake Forest than they were against Memphis," he continued. "We were average at best against Memphis. We did a lot better in the run game against Wake and were OK in the passing game. We improved. We are starting to understand the scheme better, trust our teammates more and fitting where we are supposed to more often. I can see all of them believing in what we are teaching them."
Nix was asked about the painful last drive by Wake that set up the winning field goal.
"The big play was that we didn't collision the receiver like we were supposed to on their big gain on the pass over the middle and we didn't rush the quarterback quite as hard, I didn't think, as we had been," Nix noted. "Down the stretch, you have to make a play. Their QB made a play and we didn't. We have to do better in those situations."
* It appears Garrett Ryan, who played in the Memphis game at DE, has been moved to linebacker.
* Ohio State transfer Cornerback James Scott is on campus but he did not attend practice today. He is getting his academic entry rquirements and orientation finished and is expected to join practice tomorrow or the next day.
* With the changes on the first DL, the second DL for now includes Stephens and Chris Bowers at the ends and Scott, Justin Smith and Jerrell Powe rotating in with the top two DTs.
* Coaches look for all sorts of signs from a team whenever they are coming off a tough loss. One is how they respond in the weight room in early morning workouts after a setback. In a brief conversation with the S&C staff at practice, they said the response of the players was excellent. We were told there was a "put this behind us and let's go" attitude that they were hoping for.
* Five former Rebel athletes will be named to the M-Club Hall of Fame Saturday. They are: Lady Rebel basketball player Jackie Martin-Glass, Lady Rebel trackster Teneeshia Jones, a pair of football stars in Kris Mangum and Kelvin Pritchett, and a two-sport athlete who brought a pair of conference titles to the Rebels in the late "Ary" Phillips.
Practice Report: Tuesday
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