Practice Report: Wednesday

The Rebels will get some rest during the open week, but not yet. Coach Houston Nutt put the football team through a 2-hour, full-pad workout with emphasis on special teams play. Read about it inside.

"We had another good practice," said Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt after Wednesday's 2-hour, full-pad workout culminating with a 'redshirt' scrimmage. "I'm really pleased with the way our team is responding to what we are asking them to do.

"We got the young guys a little more scrimmage time and there are some I am really impressed with. QB Nathan Stanley and WR Melvin Harris have really looked good. They are going to be a good combination one day. The offensive line did a little better and the young secondary group did some good things - James Scott, Brandon Sanders, Derrick Herman, those guys are going to be alright."

Nutt is glad the decision was made to redshirt Melvin Harris.

"He's weak right now, realtively speaking, but a year in the weight room with Coach Decker is going to do wonders for him. I envision him at 225 pounds, at least. He can hold at least that. He's 209 right now and came in here at 180. I think he's going to be very good in time."

Houston said he expects Herman and Scott to compete with returning corners Cassius Vaughn and Marshay Green in the spring and summer.

"I think both our starters now are starting to get it more and more, but those young guys, I think, are going to give them some real good competition," Nutt assessed.

Nutt was asked about the Rebel passing game, which has dipped in production the last couple of weeks while the running game has surged.

"We've missed a few things we should have hit in the passing game. We have to do a better job in protection at times, Jevan has missed a couple of throws, the receivers have hurt us with some routes," Nutt said. "It's been a combination of things. We need to get our timing down and get better overall. When we are all on the same page, we can move the ball up and down the field, but we've dropped off a bit here lately.

"On the flip side, the running game has gotten better. The kids are starting to believe in it and taking ownership in it. Our footwork up front is better and our running backs are running more downhill now and getting a feel for what we want.

"(OL) Coach (Mike) Markuson is really good at developing chemistry, teaching working together and being physical, but it takes time. It does not happen in one game. Now you see why I told you when I was hired here why Mike was such an important ingredient to our staff."

Random Notes:

* The injury list remains the same. Senior TE David Traxler is still out with a back injury and it's still uncertain when he may try to return, if at all. . . Senior FB Jason Cook sat out with a mild concussion sustained in the Auburn game, but he is expected back in action Sunday when the Rebs resume practice. . . Junior DE Greg Hardy dressed out for practice again, but did not do a whole lot as the coaches are trying to rest his injured foot as much as possible to see if they can get him back healthy, or somewhat healthy, before the UL-Monroe game.

* Three coaches - CB Coach Chris Vaughn, RB Coach Derrick Nix and WR Coach Ron Dickerson - have already hit the road recruiting this week. Just as he did during the last open week, Nutt will handle practices with a skeleton crew while the others get on the road.

* With Cook out, junior Andy Hartman is getting the majority of fullback reps and is impressing the coaches. "Andy is a throwback - tough, willing to stick his nose in any situation and a kid who does exactly what he's asked to do with a great attitude by the coaches," said Nutt. "He's a real asset to the team and we feel like that position is in good hands when he's in there. We trust him."

* There has been some talk among Rebel followers about the offensive line - next year. The OL will take a big hit by losing three starters - LT Michael Oher, LG Darryl Harris and RG Maurice Miller - and Nutt has expressed urgency in having a good OL signing class this year, including "two or three" JUCOs, but a closer look indicates the projected starting five might be fairly salty. For now, Bradley Sowell will handle the left tackle slot and the experience he has gained this season playing tight end has motivated him to up the level of his play. Reid Neely, who splits time with Harris, will be the left guard. Daverin Geralds returns at center, a year better. Rishaw Johnson has been waiting in the wings for his turn and will most likely man the right guard slot for Miller. John Jerry will return, it's is believed, for his second season at right tackle. Not bad, not bad at all, but the rub and concern is with ready depth. There's not much of that lurking and where the urgency in recruiting comes in.

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