Practice Report: Friday

The Rebels had a "good" workout today in the IPF as bowl preparations continued, but it was without senior OLB Ashlee Palmer, who is likely to miss the Cotton Bowl due to eligibility issues. Read about it inside.

"I will know for sure Monday, but it doesn't look good for Ashlee to make it for the Cotton Bowl," said Houston Nutt after a rugged practice in the IPF. "As far as I know, he is the only one. This is new to me, guys, I've never had a senior who didn't make it academically for a bowl.

"If he's not able to play, that would be a big blow to us. He's really been playing well for us lately - on special teams, making an interception, hitting ballcarriers, breaking up passes. He's been good."

Nutt said that will open up more - way more - playing time for Patrick Trahan, but he liked having that two-man rotation to keep both fresh.

"It stresses us in depth. Before, we could keep both of them very fresh," said Nutt. "Now, Patrick is going to have to play a lot.

"Even though we don't know for sure, there's a real good chance he won't be available so we didn't practice him in order to get more reps for Patrick and to send a signal to the other players, especially the young guys. You have to take care of your business, you have to do what is right. I wish I had been here a little sooner for Ashlee because he had some bad habits with some little things academically in not following through. Again, we'll know for sure Monday, but it doesn't look good."

Nutt also hurts for Palmer.

"Ashlee is a good person who has been a good leader for us. This kind of sends some shock waves through our team," Houston stated, "but it's a clear message that academics come first. You have to get a degree. I hope that is my first and last experience with this."

Besides the Palmer deal, Houston was pleased with practice.

"You can tell they are glad finals are over. The concentration was better," he said. "We got into some of the Texas Tech stuff today and will really get into it starting Sunday afternoon.

"We'll practice again tomorrow and Sunday and take Monday off before practicing Tuesday-Saturday where we will really get into our gameplanning before the Christmas break. Next week, we will do a little less with the younger guys and more with the veterans. We have been majoring in bringing these young guys along so far during bowl practices and they are real sore. We'll back off of them starting Sunday."

Random Notes:

* Senior FB Jason Cook (knee injury) ran some today and said he did not feel any pain for about five minutes. When he started feeling pain, he stopped, but he was encouraged by his first workout since the Egg Bowl. . . CB Jeremy McGee (knee) was doing a lot of running and cutting today and looked good. He should be ready fairly soon to return to practice.

* WR Mike Wallace ran by the secondary today and caught a beautiful 65-yard TD pass from Jevan Snead, who put it right on the money. That is not uncommon - as everyone knows, Wallace can fly. No surprise, but we were watching and wondering where the "speed" was going to come from when Mike graduated. Obviously, Dexter McCluster has plenty, that's a given. It's also noticeable Lionel Breaux and Markeith Summers, who are not as fast as Wallace, have separation type speed. And while Shay Hodge does not time fast under the shadow of a stop watch, nobody seems to catch him when he gets behind a defender, aka the Florida game with his long catch-and-run for a score that shocked The Swamp. He has football speed. No, the Rebels will not have a Mike Wallace-type sprinter next year, but they will have several who can beat DBs on deep routes. Take that off the "worry list."

* Frosh TB Enrique Davis has benefited from the hard look the coaching staff is taking of the younger guys of late. Today, Enrique ran through several tacklers in inside running drills and showed his speed when he got outside of containment and lopped off a big piece of real estate in quick fashion. "He's improved a lot in the last few practices. He's starting to get what we want and starting to make up some ground on the others," Nutt stated. Good to hear and see.

* With the way Texas Tech likes to throw the ball and keep defenders running, it's a good thing the Rebel coaches have renewed faith in senior CB Dustin Mouzon and Marshay Green. The Rebels are going to need to rotate corners against that high-speed offensive juggernaut and having quality depth is the only way to do that.

* Sometimes the only way to learn is to get beaten. Frosh OL Josh Tatum is learning his lessons the hard way - through baptism by fire. Tatum had a rough go of it yesterday in one-on-one drills against defensive ends, but today he perked up and responded better. Rookies have to learn the hard way.

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