Practice Report: Sunday

The Rebels had a light practice in helmets and shoulder pads in the IPF Sunday afternoon with the coaches picking up the pace in the installation of their Cotton Bowl gameplan. Read about it inside.

"We worked really hard fundamentally in the kicking game. (Special Teams Coordinator James) Shibest has been on the road, but he came back today so that helped a lot," said Coach Houston Nutt as he assessed Sunday's 2-hour workout in shells in the IPF. "We also worked hard going against all those Texas Tech pass routes, and that is a real challenge."

Redshirt freshman Quarterback Nathan Stanley has been simulating Tech QB Graham Harrell and RS frosh WR Melvin Harris has been "playing" Tech All-American Wideout Michael Crabtree.

"Nathan has been invaluable. He can throw the ball very well and he's challenging our defense," said Nutt. "Melvin is not as strong as Crabtree, but he's a big target so we are getting good work out of him and our two young tight ends, E.J. Epperson and Ferbia Allen. We also go good-against-good a lot and Shay Hodge would be our Crabtree in those instances."

Nutt also talked about Texas Tech's defense - again.

"They keep everyone in front of them and don't give up big plays. They are quick and physical. They remind me a lot of South Carolina's defense, maybe not as big," Nutt stated.

Houston was asked his impressions of the year junior RT John Jerry has had.

"I'd give him an A-. He's football smart and understands the schemes," Nutt stated. "John has had an excellent year pass protecting and run blocking. We are excited about his senior year. I want him to lose a few pounds and get in a little better shape, but I am very pleased with him."

FB Jason Cook was running in the pool Sunday, but Nutt said "he's got a long way to go."

"His knee is going to take some time. He's got a chance to play in the bowl game, but it's going to be close. Knowing Jason, he's going to give it all he's got to play," Houston evaluated. "We'll see."

Nutt said he is very impressed with Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach.

"I don't know him real well, but I have watched what he's done and it's very impressive," he continued. "His staff is very good. You don't go 11-1 because you are lucky. They are good and earned every victory they had, so you have to be impressed."

Random Notes:

* Free Safety Kendrick Lewis sat out Sunday's workout with a minor ankle injury. He's expected to be OK in a couple of days. "We should have him back Tuesday or Wednesday," Nutt stated. In his absence, sophomore Johnny Brown took reps with the first team defense.

* In talking to recruits who have taken their official visits, an attitude the Rebs have is crystal clear to them. They all mention Ole Miss football being a family atmosphere and they all mention how their player hosts believe in Houston Nutt, the staff and the program. Frosh TE Ferbia Allen said it best today prior to practice. "I tell all the guys we are recruiting the truth. I love it here. When I was being recruited last year, I was told we would be a family," he said. "All the schools say that, but I could tell this staff meant it. It's real - we are a family, and I tell every recruit I have contact with that."

* CB Jeremy McGee dressed out in a yellow jersey again Sunday, signifying no contact, but he said his injured knee is "coming along great." He said he still has a little rehab work to do, but the hyperextended knee is almost well.

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