Practice Report: Wednesday

Rebel Coach Houston Nutt said after Tuesday's practice his troops have to do things right "a thousand times." The Rebels repped and repped and repped in Wednesday's practice. Read his comments and additional comments from OC Kent Austin about the Gator defense and Reb QB Jevan Snead inside.

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt sent his team out in shoulder pads and helmets on Wednesday with the emphasis on repetition and "doing things correctly."

"We had good back-to-back days Tuesday and Wednesday," said Nutt. "The effort and concentration was real good and we got through another day without putting the ball on the ground again. The ballhandling has been very good.

"We just need to see if that carries over to around 11:30 central time Saturday."

DC Tyrone Nix said Florida QB Tim Tebow "tore up" South Carolina last year when he was the DC for the Gamecocks. Nutt has not faced Tebow, but he knows all he needs to know about the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

"I know how good he is. He's the real deal. He's strong and he throws the ball better than some people think," Nutt stated. "Tebow also has a great supporting cast. He's not out there doing it alone. He's hard to bring down and is really tough in his mentality.

"I coached Matt Jones, who is now in the NFL as a wideout, and Tebow has more overall ability. He throws better and is tougher. He's not as fast as Matt, but he can do everything else better."

How will the Rebels attack the Florida defense? Certainly Nutt was not going to divulge any secrets, but priority number one comes back to what has haunted the Rebs thus far.

"First of all, you can't afford to turn the ball over to them. No penalties, no turnovers. We have to quit beating ourselves. Florida doesn't need any help - they are a better defense this year than they were last year - a year older and a year stronger and faster," he said. "Nobody has scored many points on them so we have to take care of the ball and make plays.

"We feel we can challenge them with some speed with Mike Wallace, Dexter McCluster and Shay Hodge who can all run. And I thought Cordera Eason had his best game of the year against Vandy except for the goalline plays."

Nutt was asked about the progress of TB Enrique Davis, who came in with all the accolades but is basically the third-team TB now.

"He's progressing, but he had further to go to understand the speed of the game and all phases of being a running back. Enrique is stronger as an inside runner and we will utilize that, but his hands need developing and so does his pass protection. He understands all of that and is working to improve the areas he needs to improve in," Nutt noted.

Offensive Coordinator Kent Austin was asked what he sees in Florida's defense when he watches film of them.

"A whole lot," he smiled. "They are great atheltes with outstanding team speed. They run to the ball well and tackle well. They are very aggressive. They don't have to do a lot defensively except line up and play, but they are not always vanilla. They will run enough stuff to keep you guessing, but they don't go overboard with it because of their faith in being able to beat you with their base stuff and great athleticism."

Having said that, Austin said the Rebels will not change their plan of attack.

"We have to stretch their defense and throw the ball vertically," he said. "We haven't done a good job of connecting on those passes, but we won't change giving it a try. That's our personality and sooner or later we will hit on some of those. What we want to make sure of is that every part of the field is available to us to attack. We don't want Florida or anyone to be able to hone in on us because we only use part of the field."

Austin was also pleased with Cordera Eason's game against Vandy, again sans the goalline lapses.

"He played his best game of the year and played well in all three phases of being a back - blocking, catching the ball and running it," Kent assessed. "He's coming on and becoming a complete back."

All eyes will be on QB Jevan Snead this week after a poor outing against Vandy.

"Jevan has done well this week. Here's the thing - he's such a competitor and cares so much that it's hard for him to let go, but he needs to learn to forget and understand the last play has no bearing on the current play. I think he's starting to get that and that will help him more than anything," said Kent. "He's getting more comfortable. He just needs to keep working and studying and understanding what he's seeing out there defensively."

Nutt said in Monday's press conference that Jevan was not the only offensive player who did not do well at times and some of that made Snead look worse than he actually played. Austin agreed.

"The first pick was not his fault. The receiver ran a terrible pattern. That being said, he should have taken his read to the other side of the field. But when he did decide to go there, the guys around him have to play better too," Austin said. "I played the position and so did Coach Nutt. We are uniquely aware it is not always the quarterback's fault with mistakes that seem so glaring from a fan's perspective.

"But it's his job to recognize when nothing is there and to protect the football. If the pass rush is on him before the pattern has developed, throw it away. Live to fight another down. He just needs to let the game come to him a little more and he'll be fine."

We've been asked at least 100 times if there has been any consideration by Austin to move from the booth to the sidelines to help Jevan during his learning phase. So we asked Austin.

"We had those discussions before the season and we decided I could serve the team better in the booth. We have not discussed the matter since," he closed.

Random Notes:

* Wide Receiver Jacarious Lucas, who came up short academically for eligibility this season, is expected to redshirt this year and come back in the 2009 season. Lucas played two years of junior college ball and this is his second year at Ole Miss. Lucas said he will practice this year, but he is being held out right now due to an ankle sprain. At the time of the news about his academics Lucas was the sixth man in the wide receiver rotation.

* Junior Reid Neely and senior Darryl Harris are splitting reps with the number one offensive line at left guard. Darryl will still start, but OL Coach Mike Markuson is making sure Reid is on go in case any of the OL get hurt. In that case, Reid will move up to Darryl's place and Darryl will move to another position. Harris has played every position on the OL in his career.

* Coach Houston Nutt said the reason Florida's defense has been so potent is "speed and they don't stay on blocks long." Don't look now, but Florida's offense is just as fast as their defense, which means the theme for the week for the front seven of the Rebel defense is to get off blocks quickly and not let those big Florida athletes "latch on." That is stressed every day, obviously, but this week extra emphasis has been placed on shedding would-be Gator blockers.

* There has been a rumor floating around that freshman OL Kermit Tyler, who was discovered with an illness this summer that ended his football career, has gotten a second opinion and will be able to resume his grid career. We were told today that is not true. Kermit's career is over, we were told. Tyler is on scholarship and will get his education at Ole Miss on a football scholly.

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