Change can be hard on a football team.
With new coaches comes new schemes, new rules, new personalities to deal with, new routines, new ways of doing things, new expectations and new demands.
But if change is handled correctly, it can also bring a sense of stability and some calm, even in the maelstrom known as SEC football.
Now that every player is pretty much off the injury list, and the Rebel players and coaches have had a meeting of the minds of how things are going to be done, there is a feeling of stability on the team.
And when things are stable, there is an expectation of consistency, which is the number one attribute the Rebel coaches are striving for with their troops.
To this point, the consistency level has improved measurably, but there's still more to do in that area.
Perhaps everyone being on the same page and more settled in with game week routines will help that develop further.
What brings this amatuerish bit of psychoanalysis and observation to light now? It might be a reach, but from this reporter's perspective, Wednesday's practice was basically a repeat of Tuesday's.
The "random notes" of the workout are virtually identical. Sometimes "little info" is good info in itself.
After Tuesday's practice, Coach Houston Nutt was looking for the players to play faster in Wednesday's session. Did they?
"They absolutely did. It was a very, very good Wednesday practice. Every coach challenged them today and they responded," said Nutt. "The players know what is facing them. They know how tough the SEC is and how tough Vandy always plays. You gotta prepare that way. Come on - let's go. Preparation is the key and they answered the bell today.
"Each period, the focus, concentration, speed and being physical was there. They knew their assignments. It was a good practice."
Houston said he is starting to see a higher level of confidence on the squad of late.
"They are working hard and they are playing more confidently," he stated. "We just have to carry that on to the field on Saturdays. The key will be who makes the fewest mistakes. The team that makes the fewest errors will be the team that wins.
"We are a team that could be 3-0 if we could take away four or five bad plays in the Wake Forest game. Like I said to you guys before, the difference in winning and losing is a fine line. Three or four plays is what you are talking about. I am seeing more confidence in them to make those plays."
Nutt said he's had to adjust his thinking some in his approach with the Rebels because of the dismal fact they have not won an SEC game since 2006.
"Sometimes I catch myself assuming they know how to feel and what to do and that's not the case," he explained. "What's been hard is trying to teach them a winning mindset and that's why I hated to see those faces in the locker room after the Wake Forest game. That woke me up a little bit as to what I have to do to help them turn this thing around and get that winning mindset.
"Guys like Jason Cook and Jamarca Sanford. You can go to war with those guys. They are great young men who care and to see that look after that loss was tough. Kids like that are worth pulling for and hopefully we get more and more players and fans following them."
* The Greg Hardy watch continues with positive news. Tuesday, the junior DE survived and somewhat thrived in his return from a stress fracture in his foot that has had him sidelined since early August, but the warning from all involved was "let's see how sore he is tomorrow" before any rash statements about him were made. The good news is he wasn't too sore to practice in pads again Wednesday. His foot was taped a little more heavily than it was Tuesday, but he went through practice and appears to have his sights set on playing Saturday against Vanderbilt. While there are still two critical days to go in determining his availability, it would seem he passed the hardest tests - the two contact days of game week practices. Keep your fingers crossed. Nutt assessed Hardy's Wednesday practice. "He responded real well. It will be interesting to see how many snaps we get out of him, but I am more encouraged today that we will get something from Greg Saturday," Houston said.
* With S Fon Ingram suspended for a game due to an off-the-field incident after the Samford game, it appears his place will be taken at the backup strong safety slot by senior Terrell Jackson. On special teams, his slot on two special teams units is being filled - from our rough special teams notes in August - by Kendrick Lewis on one ST and Markeith Summers on the other. We'll try to verify that before game time.
* Tuesday, it was reported sophomore LB Allen Walker had moved ahead of Lamar Brumfield at the number one Sam LB slot. That remained the pecking order today as well. It looks as if Walker will get his first start of the year against the Commodores. "Allen has been making more plays and has been playing quicker lately. He's catching on to things better now too," Houston stated. . . It was also noted DT Jerrell Powe had moved up to the second unit and CB Marshay Green had maintained his number one status at the field CB slot. Wednesday, those items were the same as well. "Marshay's start last week helped his confidence. I have seen a lot of growth in him since then," Nutt explained.
* Vandy CB D.J. Moore is reputed to be one of the best in the country. He's got the credentials to back that statement and is, without question, an outstanding player, but he will not be the first excellent DB/secondary the Rebs have gone against this season. Wake Forest's secondary was rated as one of the best in the country too. Food for thought.
* Transfer CB James Scott was expected to start practice this week, but it did not happen on Wednesday. For clarification purposes, there are no issues with Scott, who comes to Ole Miss from Ohio State and will sit out the rest of this year due to NCAA transfer rules. Paperwork sometimes moves slowly. This is one of those cases.
Practice Report: Wednesday
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