Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt said last Monday in his weekly press conference that the Rebels didn't know it, but the first week or so of bowl practices would be "tough with a lot of contact and scrimmaging."
Through the first three days of bowl preparations, he has been true to his word.
In probably the "toughest" practices since the first week of August, the Rebels have had a lot of contact work.
"We've had excellent enthusiasm and the kids are having fun, but we are putting them through some tough workouts," said Nutt. "This is all new to them and they don't want to stop playing.
"The most important thing is that the younger guys have had a little mini-camp. They are sore. We have beaten them up pretty good, but they needed that. That is one of the big benefits of going to a bowl - you get to get some great extra work with the younger guys. It helps them so much."
Nutt said the fun part is the older players encouraging the younger guys and the younger guys going all-out to impress the upperclassmen.
"The older guys are coaching them up from the sidelines and they are trying to show out for them and for the coaching staff. It's a lot of fun," said Houston.
Off the top of his head, Nutt said several young guys have caught his eye.
"Lakenwic Haynes, H.R. Greer, Jason Jones, Ferbia Allen and E.J. Epperson have really been physical and Derrick Herman is going to help us at corner," Nutt noticed. "We're looking around to see who can help us. Derrick, for instance, is working some in the in the Wild Rebel on offense. We are open to anyone who can help us anywhere.
"We are experimenting with LaDerrick Vaughn at wide receiver. It's going to be hard for him to get on the field at DE the way those guys are playing and he's a very good athlete who we want to help us somewhere. He's just so far behind at WR right now, but it's worth a try. It's not natural for him, but he has a chance because he's a physical blocker."
There will be no practices Monday-Wednesday because of finals.
"We don't need any slip-ups academically right now. We look pretty good going into finals, so we want to keep it that way," he said. "We will come back and practice hard Thursday-Sunday.
"The big thing is for our guys to finish in the classroom, just like we try to do in everything."
* CB Jeremy McGee hyperextended his knee in yesterday's practice and missed Sunday's workout. He said he will not require surgery and should be fine to play in the bowl game.
* TE Gerald Harris dislocated the pinky finger on his left hand diving for a catch yesterday, but he practiced full speed Sunday. "It scared me a little at first because my finger was at a 90 degree angle," he laughed. "But the trainers popped it back in place and it's OK now. It's sore, but no big deal."
* The contact action takes place in what is known as middle drills. It's 9-on-8 full contact and is nothing more than working on the inside run game. You know some heavy hitting is going to take place because there is no threat of a pass and everyone knows what's coming. In Sunday's middle drills, it was head knocking 101. A few thoughts from middle drills. . . The only OL I have seen in over a month who even comes close to blocking DT Peria Jerry is the Ole Miss OL. . . For a freshman, TE E.J. Epperson is very physical and is learning good blocking techniques from TE Coach James Shibest. He is going to be a beast in time. . . He doesn't get much attention or playing time, but when backup FB Ben Benedetto gets a chance to hit someone, they are hit. The former DE lit a few defenders up today. . . . Frosh MLB Jason Jones, for the third day in a row, shows he has a real nose for the football. He's always making a tackle or helping someone finish a runner off. He has a knack.
* QB Jevan Snead did not look like he had any problems with a shoulder injury today. He was humming the rock in pass scale drills. On one pass play, he threw a 40-yard rope to a streaking Markeith Summers. Six points! "My shoulder is not 100% yet, but it will be by the bowl game. It's getting better every day," Snead said. "There's a little soreness, but I feel good."
* Herman may want to play offense some next year, but today showed why the coaches are trying to hone his corner skills. He had one interception and broke up two passes in the short full-team scrimmage at the end of practice. Kid is fast.
* When you think of Melvin Harris, you might think the 6-7 wideout is gangly. You'd be wrong. He's faster than you would think and pretty agile, with good moves and soft hands. When he gets another 20 pounds on him, he will be dangerous.
* Wideout Andrew Harris is getting some valuable reps and chances at passes this week and it's helping. The big, strong freshman is starting to get more comfortable and has been making more plays in practice of late.
Sunday practice report -
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