Practice Report: Wednesday

It's hard to beat sunny and 72 degrees when your intention is to practice football. That's what the Rebels had Wednesday as they strapped on the gear for more preparations for Saturday's game versus Arkansas in Fayetteville. Read about it inside.

The Oxford area, and Ole Miss football team, was blessed with a sun-kissed, 72 degree day Wednesday and the Rebels took full advantage of it before Thursday's forecast of rain and thunderstorms rolls through.

The Rebels went through a two-hour workout in shoulder pads and helmets, concentrating the early practice periods on one-on-one blocking/getting off blocks techniques.

"We had a good day today. I loved our concentration and the way we moved around," said Rebel Coach Houston Nutt. "The weather was perfect and that probably sparked how frisky the guys were. I was happy with the workout."

Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino is known more for his offensive prowess, but Nutt said the Razorback defense has improved weekly.

"They have a base of guys who have won 18 games the past two years and have been to Atlanta. They know what winning is about," Nutt said. "Their defense has gotten better from game one through their last game. They play very hard.

"DE Antwain Robinson, DT Malcolm Sheppard, LB Freddy Burton, LB Elston Forte, LB Wendel Davis, SS Dallas Washington - those are guys who have been there and know what it's all about. You may not hear much about them, but they have done a real good job."

Nutt expects his former defensive players to get after his current offense.

"They'll be aggressive. They will be a four-man front and sometimes get in a five-man front. They'll mix up zone and man in their coverages. They'll blitz a little bit. It will be standard stuff, but they'll play hard," Houston continued. Random Notes:

* Senior Punter Rob Park has emerged in the past few weeks as not only effective in his task, but as a weapon. Why? We'll let Park explain. "I'm very calm," said Park. "Coach (James) Shibest is great. He helps all the kickers relax on the sidelines during games. We are focused and intense, but we are also calm and that helps us perform better." Nutt is happy with Park's recent performances. "I want him to stay right where he is - don't change a thing. He's giving us great hang time and he's become a weapon for us," Nutt said. "But all our kickers have done very well. Ya'll (the media) don't ask me as much about them as you did in spring when they were question marks. Hopefully, we'll keep it going."

* The Rebel football program got a new "toy" recently. It's a Red Club Car golf cart with a football helmet mounted on the top. It's to be used for touring recruits around campus when they are on visits. One cool feature about to be added is a stereo that has an IPod adapter. Recruits can plug in their IPods with their own personal music selections and listen while they are taking in the sights.

* LG Darryl Harris got in a special brace from California that is supposed to help him play despite having a torn ligament in his elbow. "Darryl went through everything today with that special brace on and seemed to do well," Houston noted. "Trainer Tim Mullins and Shannon Singletary got that thing in here and it helped him. You talk about a senior who really wants to play, it's Darryl. It would be real easy for him to say he couldn't go with that type of injury, but he hasn't done that. I'm proud of him for trying to tough it out."

* TE David Traxler, as expected, is still out with a nagging back injury. No word on when he will return. In the meantime, as previously reported, has been getting his reps and is taking up the slack behind starter Gerald Harris.

* We reported yesterday that DT Lawon Scott has been moved in front of Ted Laurent as the starter alongside senior Peria Jerry. That held up Wednesday as well. Lawon was working with the first defensive unit.

* If Harris cannot go Saturday, junior Reid Neely will get his first start of the year at LG. Reid was the starter all of last year and into the summer before suffering an Achilles tendon injury.

* More and more in the past two weeks, we've been hearing players and coaches alike talking about not being the weak link. It seems to be the new "theme" of the team, as in don't let your teammate down. A good thought to start every practice in a team sport.

* DE Greg Hardy was at practice Wednesday, but he did not participate in team drills. Nutt said yesterday he thought Greg might be able to go today, but obviously that plan did not work out. Hardy did do some fundamental drills on his own and Houston was encouraged. "I think he's going to be available for the game," Nutt stated.

* Saskatchewan Rough Riders GM Eric Tillman was in Oxford today to present Rebel OC Kent Austin with his Canadian Football League Championship ring. You'll recall, Kent was the head coach at Saskatchewan last year and won the Grey Cup in his only year as the head man.

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