Practice Report: Tuesday

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt put the Rebels through a grueling 2 1/2 hour bowl practice Tuesday, installing portions of the gameplan for the Cotton Bowl against Texas Tech. Read about it inside.

Practice started Tuesday in the IPF at 11 a.m.

At precisely 1:30 p.m., the final play of a "younger guys" scrimmage was run and practice ended.

"We don't usually go that long, but everyone was real spirited and into the practice, so we ran over our plan a little," smiled Nutt. "School is out. They don't have anything else to do. They are off until tomorrow morning, so we decided to get a lot in today.

"We had a real good, in-depth Texas Tech practice. We had some middle drills for the young guys midway through and then we finished with a scrimmage for the younger guys. It was one of our best, most productive practices of the year. These kids are really excited and giving it to us."

Senior OLB Ashlee Palmer - declared eligible for the Cotton Bowl yesterday - rejoined workouts after missing a couple of days due to the uncertainty of his academic situation, but senior RG Maurice Miller was held out and was trying to clear up an academic issue of his own.

"To have depth against a team like Texas Tech is vital. We are still going to start Patrick (Trahan) but they will all roll in there like they always do," Houston stated. "I'm excited to have him back.

"We knew Friday that Ashlee was borderline in making it, so we held him out of practice to see if he could fix things, we decided to zero in on freshmen Jason Jones and Lakenwic Haynes, and, also, we wanted to send a signal to our younger guys. If you don't do what you are supposed to do consistently, this is the possible result. Our freshmen, by the way, had one of the best GPAs we've had in a long time. Back to Ashlee, we were down about it. He's a senior who has given us all we asked of him. Now, we are back up and excited for him. He's like a bonus now.

"Mo is still doing some work, but I am optimistic he will be back with us soon, at least that is what I hope."

Random Notes:

* DE Greg Hardy was late showing up for practice. "He overslept. I don't know how you can oversleep for an 11 o'clock practice, but he did," Houston stated. "He will get some nice punishment in the next couple of days. I've told all the guys to get their rest and do right and we won't go two-a-days like some schools are during bowl practices. We are getting enough work and we don't want football to get old for them, but we can't have too many episodes like today with Greg."

* True frosh WR Melvin Harris put on a show in Tuesday's practice, both in a scout team role simulating Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree and in the WR rotation with the regular offense. "I get more excited about him every day. When (Don) Decker gets through with him this winter, I really believe he will be in the rotation next year," Nutt stated. "He catches it well. His routes are getting better. He just has to get bigger and stronger. Because he's 6-6, he's not covered when he is covered, if you understand what I mean. He's going to be a good one. He and QB Nathan Stanley give us a real, genuine look of the other team for our defense. The ball is coming out fast and on target and Melvin is working hard and making plays. We put Crabtree's number 5 on Melvin. We want our guys to understand who is wearing that number and remember it."

* Nutt was very complimentary of sophomore DT Lawon Scott. Playing beside senior All-SEC DT Peria Jerry, Lawon doesn't get the accolades of his counterpart, but his value is not lost on Houston. "He's one of our unsung heroes. Lawon has played underneath the radar. His name will not be called as much as Peria's because he won't get the sacks and tackles for loss Peria does, but he's holding his gap and making plays," Nutt evaluated. "(Tracy) Rocker got him ready to play and Lawon has done a very good job. I have been very proud of him both against the run and in pass rush. He's also a bright young man who can handle what we are doing mentally. He's also helping freshman Justin Smith get lined up. I love his maturity this year."

* CB Jeremy McGee injured his knee last week and missed a few days of practice. The two practices prior to today, he dressed out but was in a yellow jersey, meaning no contact. Today, he put on a regular jersey and went through all contact work with no problems. As Nutt said, depth will be key against Texas Tech and McGee is the fourth corner, which makes him valuable.

* Even though this is a repeat note from last week, QB Jevan Snead's shoulder can't be bothering him too much. He is humming the football now and if his shoulder is an issue, it is not detectable.

* Frosh TE E.J. Epperson came out of practice today with an injured wrist. It is dislocated. How long he will be out is unknown right now. It happened after a reception and a high-low tackle by two defenders. His arm got bent behind him and he landed awkwardly on the wrist.

* With Miller temporarily, we hope, out, junior Reid Neely moved from left guard to right guard and senior Darryl Harris took all reps at left guard. Both Reid and Darryl have played both guard positions in their careers.

* DT Jerrell Powe appears to be starting to solidify himself more and more in the DL rotation. He is now teamed with Ted Laurent as the number two DT tandem behind Scott and Jerry. Frosh Justin Smith is now working with the number three DL.

* Jermey Parnell has not gotten to play a whole lot this season, but the former hoopster turned gridder has worked hard and stuck it out and it just might pay off with a career in the NFL. Jermey, who is now 285 pounds, has worked at both DE and DT this year. He has also busted his tail in the weight room. Last week, he benched 225 pounds 24 times and racked the bar himself on his last rep. In case you are wondering, anything between 22-30 reps for 225 pounds for a defensive lineman is considered more than sufficient in the NFL.

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