Monday Practice Report -

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt had a shorter than usual practice in the IPF Monday, but it was more physical than any spring practice to date this year. Read about it inside.

Rebel Football Coach Houston Nutt did not try to hide it. . .

. . .The boss of the Ole Miss football program was not pleased with the intensity level his squad showed in Saturday's scrimmage.

It may have been cold outside Monday, but in the confines of the indoor practice facility, things got pretty heated.

The Rebels went through a two-hour practice that was pretty much nothing but hitting and scrimmaging.

"Our level of intensity was very good today. It was not very good Saturday at our scrimmage. That was not what we wanted in our stadium," Nutt explained. "Every time you put on the pads on this level of football, the intensity has to be there. It has to be high in all game-like situations. You are not going to improve unless you are going full speed. Nothing else is good enough.

"I did not think we were getting that level of play Saturday, so we got it today. We were trying to send a message that we were not physical enough in the scrimmage. Not to play in this league. You can't think someone else is going to do it and make the play. You have to make it yourself, full speed."

DT Jerrell Powe is starting to make a lot of progress, but he was sidetracked temporarily today. He hyperextended his elbow in the scrimmage and did not put on pads Monday.

"That is disappointing. He's got to get back out here in a hurry. He was making strides and we don't want him to lose that momentum," Houston noted.

RT John Jerry and CB Jeremy McGee missed practice due to a class conflict. Nutt grimaced over that a bit.

"You want them all out here. We only have 15 days of work in spring and even guys like John Jerry, as good as he is, needs all the reps he can get," said Nutt.

The Rebels seem crowded at running back, but if sophomore Devin Thomas keeps producing in practice, the coaches are going to be forced to make room for one more, as Nutt attests.

"If he keeps doing what he's doing - ripping off nice runs, there's a place for him," Houston stated. "Saturday, we had a couple of plays blocked well that didn't produce because the backs didn't do what they were supposed to do or stumbled at the line of scrimmage. Devin has been making those plays and we are watching him closely.

"All of them have had their days, but you are looking for consistency. It's the same as our receivers. They were not real good Saturday, but today they came back and caught the ball a lot better today. We're watching those who do make the plays."

Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix seemed as pleased as Tyrone ever gets with the progress his defense is making this spring.

"We are making progress. We are not where we want to be but we are improving," Nix stated. "In the first scrimmage, we tackled well and didn't miss but a couple, so that was promising.

"What we have to do now is finish spring by getting all 11 guys on the same page."

Nutt has been - almost daily - passing out kudos on Powe. Today, it was Nix's turn.

"Jerrell is much improved. He's got a way to go, but he's made a commitment to getting better and he's made some plays this spring as a result of that," Tyrone said. "He can disrupt things and he's starting to show his true potential. He hasn't gotten his consistency level where we want it yet, but he's showing he wants to. He's last weight, he's playing faster, he's playing harader and he's being disruptive. He just has to keep going and he'll be fine."

Another player who perked Nix up is OLB Patrick Trahan.

"Coach (Don) Decker did a great job with Patrick in the offseason and he's in great shape," Nix continued. "He's faster and stronger and he's striking people. I am very happy with Trahan."

Tyrone also handed out a compliment to the Rebel secondary and their improvement.

"I wish we had more depth there, but they are getting better as a unit," he closed. "Coach (Chris) Vaughn and Coach (Kim) Dameron have taken it as a personal challenge to get those guys better and the kids are responding. I am happy with their progress. I like what they are doing right now."

Random Notes:

* Justin Sparks, Bryson Rose and David Hankins, who kicked off in the Cotton Bowl when Sparks was ill, kicked off for the first time today in spring practice. All three looked capable. Sparks hit the deepest kicks overall, but Rose and Hankins were consistently inside the five. Rose looks to have put on some solid weight and is hitting the ball with more authority this spring.

* RS frosh TE E.J. Epperson is still wearing protection on his wrist in practice, but he said today that he is nearing the end of that and hopes to play in the Grove Bowl without the cast-like protection on his left arm. It's there for a purpose, but it has to be affecting his pass-catching ability.

* Powe only expects to be out with his hyperextended elbow "one or two practices."

* With John Jerry out with a class Monday, senior Reid Neely tried yet another position - RT. This spring, the versatile Neely has played every OL position except center. . . Speaking of the OL, the number one unit Monday was LT Bradley Sowell, LG Brandon Green, C Daverin Geralds, RG A.J. Hawkins and Neely at RT.

* Dexter McCluster missed Saturday scrimmage with a bruised ankle, but he was back at practice today full speed.

* Nutt wanted the practice to be a physical affair and physical it was. Early in practice, the OL and DL did one-on-one, full contact drills for three solid periods. It was best-man-wins warfare and it was intense. Message received, coach.

* Once Nutt got the team's juices flowing and got their attention, the scrimmage time was highly-energized and enthusiastic. They looked more like the real Rebels Monday than they did Saturday, for sure.

* Two players who probably don't get as much ink and attention as they deserve are DE Marcus Tillman and DT Ted Laurent. Both quietly go about playing their positions effectively without a lot of fanfare and hoopla, but both have been making plays this spring consistently. "Marcus plays his position the way it's supposed to be played. He makes the plays he's supposed to make and some he probably shouldn't. That's the mark of a good football player," Nutt noted. "Ted's in better shape now and starting to become more solid play after play. We like their direction."

* The Rebels will resume practice Wednesday. Due to more class conflicts, Nutt is contemplating moving practice up an hour to 2:30 p.m. We'll let you know.

OM Spirit Top Stories