Practice Report: Thursday

Due to rainy weather in the Oxford area, the Rebels worked in the indoor practice facility as they put on the finishing touches to their full-speed preparations for Alabama in soft shells Thursday. Read about the workout inside.

After an open week and two weeks of the same questions over and over, there wasn't a lot to ask Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt after the Rebels wrapped up full-speed preparations for Saturday's Alabama game.

So he just started talking. . .

"Guys, we had two good weeks of practice. We really did," he began. "Now, can we take it to the field Saturday in one of the toughest environments in America? We both had off weeks. They are the number two ranked team in America and they have beaten everybody in the first quarter so far something like 80-0.

"The bottom line is we have to buckle up. We have to buckle up tight, and everybody knows that. I think we have prepared well. Now, let's go play well."

Houston said it's difficult to tell how a team is going to respond from week to week.

"I used to think I could tell, but it's hard. I have had practice weeks in my coaching career where everything went perfectly and we played terrible, and vice-versa," he said. "It's hard to read, but more times than not you are going to play the way you practice and these kids worked hard for me the last two weeks."

The Rebs were forced inside due to rain in Oxford. For the umpteenth time this season, Houston was thankful for the IPF.

"We were able to get in everything we needed to. We didn't have to cut back on anything. This is an awesome buidling. We have something special here, something a lot of schools do not have," he said. "I'm very thankful for this facility."

On film, Houston said Alabama is the best team the Rebs have faced this year, including Florida.

"Alabama is more physical because of the style they want to play, not necessarily because of personnel. Both of them have explosive athletes who can strike with big plays at any time, but I'd say overall Bama looks a little better on film," he stated.

A key for the Rebs, according to Nutt?

"We have to stay out of third-and-long situations and to do that we have to establish some type of running game," he closed. "I feel like our running game has improved little by little and it's coming on. We need it to click Saturday."

The Rebs will bus to Birmingham tomorrow afternoon and spend the night there. Saturday morning, they will trek to Tuscaloosa for the 2:30 central game.

Random Notes:

* Senior TE David Traxler is the only Rebel who did not practice Thursday. Trax, as was reported yesterday, has a nagging back injury that will most likely hold him out of the Alabama game. He will be replaced by Reggie Hicks with junior Gerald Harris getting most of the TE snaps.

* A lot has been said and written this week about Alabama's defensive front. Rebel OL Coach Mike Markuson said "if there's a better one in the country, I want to see it." They are holding opponents to 50 yards rushing a game. But just as impressive for the Tide is the offensive line. They fuel the Tide's run game, which is tops in the SEC at 226.3 yards per game, and features junior LT Andre Smith, a 6-5, 330-pounder. "They come right at you," said Rebel Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix. "It's power football and you better be ready for it." The Ole Miss-Alabama game will feature two of the premiere left tackles in the business - Smith for the Tide and the Rebs' Michael Oher, who is projected to be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

* Alabama QB John Parker Wilson only throws for 142 yards a game, but he completes 60% of his passes and has thrown only two interceptions all year. . . . Junior SS Justin Woodall, a Lafayette County product, is second in the SEC in interceptions. He has three through six games. . . Alabama TB Glenn Coffee leads the SEC in rushing yards with 708 and is also tops per carry at 7.5 yards a rush.

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