Practice Report: Monday

Even though the sun broke through in the afternoon, heavy morning rain forced the Rebels inside for their first practice of Egg Bowl week. Read about it inside.

The Ole Miss Rebels, fresh off a 31-13 trouncing of LSU in Baton Rouge, worked out in the Indoor Practice Facility Monday after heavy morning rains drenched Oxford.

The Rebs were in shoulder pads and helmets and had, roughly, a two-hour practice session installing the gameplan for Friday's match with rival Mississippi State.

"We had a good practice," Coach Houston Nutt stated. "We came inside because of the rain earlier today. We need another good practice tomorrow."

Of course, the first question asked was about Quarterback Jevan Snead's shoulder, injured in the LSU game.

"He had limited work. Jevan was dressed out and went through some drills, but we limited him today," Nutt said. "He will practice tomorrow, but we wanted to rest him some today to make sure."

Nutt was pleased to see LT Michael Oher named as a finalist for the Outland Trophy today.

"When he told us last year he was coming back for his senior year, he was our best signee," Houston stated. "Now, he is reaping the benefits of a great senior year. Michael is going to get some individual awards, but he's also experiencing the ultimate - team success. He's never been on a winning team in college and now he has been and I bet you he will tell you that means more than the individual stuff.

"Every scout who comes through here tells me Michael is twice as tough and physical as he was last year and that was our main goal for him. We started seeing that physicality about midway through this year. He's always had outstanding footwork and athleticism, but now he's the total package."

When Houston was hired, and David Lee went to the Miami Dolphins, he was left without an offensive coordinator. Enter Kent Austin, fresh off a CFL Grey Cup Championship. Nutt could not be happier with the way that union has worked out.

"It's like we have been coaching together for 10 years," said Nutt. "It's been an excellent fit. We have a lot of the same philosophies, but he's also brought some new things to the table that have been really good for us. He knows how to spread the field and space wide receivers. That's blended in so well with our run game and our play-action game. I could not be happier with Kent and the way he has stepped in here as part of our family."

The game Friday will be the last regular season game, obviously, for the 2008 seniors.

"I'm so proud of them and I love every one of them," he said. "I've gotten close to them and they now have a great look in their eyes. I just want them to go out the right way and they are real close to that.

"When I think of guys like Jason Cook, Peria Jerry, Jamarca Sanford - all of them, I get a great feeling of what they have been able to accomplish this year. Take Darryl Harris. Very few players would have gone through what he has gone through to come back for a sixth year - all the injuries and things he had to overcome. That is special to me."

So what does he think of MSU?

"As I said yesterday in the press conference, in-state rivalries are always tougher. You can throw out all the records. This one is for all the marbles for bragging rights in our state. It's the most important game of the year," he closed.

Random Notes:

* There was not much movement on the depth chart, but it appears senior Left Guard Darryl Harris will start the game against MSU, his last time to play in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in his career. Harris was injured in the Alabama game and replaced by junior Reid Neely. Neely and Harris have split time the past three weeks, but Darryl got more PT against LSU than Neely. Harris' elbow is sound even though he still wears a brace on it to protect it from being injured again.

* Missing an opportunity to congratulate everyone after Saturday's win, we touched base with a couple of coaches we weren't able to get to then. One's response: "I don't know what you are talking about. It's Mississippi State week - that one is long gone," he said. . . Fans are already asking if the "new" Rebel staff is aware of the intensity of the Egg Bowl rivalry. Even though they did not have this type of rivalry at Arkansas, except the occasional Texas matchup from the old Sothwest Conference days, it's apparent from their talk and actions already this week that they get it.

* Houston Nutt has watched a lot of film of the Bulldog defense the past two days and their relatively new unorthodox style has his attention. "They run some stuff like Joe Lee Dunn used to run and it's hard to sink your teeth into those different alignments," he said. "They mix things up real well and will run anything from a 3-5-3 look to a 6-2-3 look. They don't give you a lot of openings and they play hard."

* One of the Bulldog defensive coaches is Louis Campbell, who was with Nutt at Arkansas for several years. Nutt said Campbell is "an outstanding coach. I can see his influence on what they are doing defensively." Is Nutt concerned about Campbell's extra knowledge of Houston's offense? "Not really - it's all on film for anyone to see by the 12th game of the year anyway," Nutt commented.

* It's no secret by now, but Ole Miss DT Peria Jerry's stock is skyrocketing with NFL scouts. One scout who was at practice on Monday said, "Peria is as good as we have seen. In the past four weeks or so we haven't seen anyone block him on film and he has actually demoralized some offensive linemen," he said.

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