Not trying to beat a dead issue to death, but Ole Miss Football Coach Houston Nutt was not pleased after last Saturday's scrimmage.
But after Monday's good effort, and another one Wednesday, he's put the poor one in his rear view mirror - sort of.
"The last two days, I really liked what the kids have done. We did not like the intensity from last weekend, but they came back and gave it to us Monday and now have had back-to-back good workouts with another good workout today," said Nutt. "Our receivers have come back really strong. I have been very proud of them.
"Both lines - offensive and defensive - have made a move the past two days. The only way I know to get better is to roll up your sleeves and go to work. They have the toughest job in the trenches. You can't fake it, you can't pretend and you can't be soft. You can't be a pretender, you have to be a contender. Those guys have stepped up the last two days."
There was still some mixing going on in the offensive line today, but Nutt said he hopes to stick with the new lineup for a few days to see if they can get some consistency going there.
"We are going to try to stick with what we have right now for the next four practices. Left tackle Bradley Sowell, Left Guard Reid Neely, Center Daverin Geralds, Right Guard Rishaw Johnson and Right TAckle John Jerry," Nutt stated.
Essentially, from the last practice, Sowell and Johnson have momentarily regained their first -team status and Neely and Johnson swapped sides from the beginning of spring.
"Reid has been very valuable to us because we feel he can play any position there and he's had a good attitude about moving around," Houston continued. "Daverin has been terrific. John has been excellent. Rishaw is getting better.
"I think demoting Bradley motivated him. We were not trying to belittle him, we were trying to raise his standard and I think it's working. There's nothing like competition. When you think you're the only guy and you have the job wrapped up, sometimes you get complacent and we can't have that. A.J. Hawkins is doing some good things too. I'm glad we had him as a greyshirt. He's physical, smart and getting better. I'm not saying he will start next year, but he will play. Brandon Green is also very valuable to us because of his versatility and toughness."
We've been asked thousands of times about backup QB Nathan Stanley. We've given wait-and-see answers. We waited and we saw today. Stanley was on fire in the team drills, completing all but one of 11 pass attempts in a game like setting.
"Nathan is getting better every day and Kent (Austin) will tell you that. His reads are getting better," Nutt stated. "We have not protected him this spring by taking him out of contact. We wanted him to see some live bullets and he has not flinched. That's impressive. He stands in the pocket and delivers with accuracy under pressure. He does not get flustered."
Another player who is catching the eye of the coaches is sophomore TB Devin Thomas.
"He's having a really good spring. He was just awarded a high academic honor and he's running with his eyes and taking care of the ball," Nutt said. "We are going to give him some reps with the ones Saturday and see what he can do behind our best OL."
The media recorders clicked off and Nutt walked away - or so we thought.
"Wait a minute guys. I want to say something about linebackers. Patrick Trahan is getting so physical - I am very excited about him and Allen Walker and Jonathan Cornell. I have not bragged on them enough. They know what to do and understand what Tyrone (Nix) is giving them. They call the plays and they are into it. Lamar Brumfield is doing OK too," Nutt added. "I am also pleased with our two young ones - Jason Jones and Lakenwic Haynes. They aren't ready for a game right now, but they will be ready by September, I think."
Wide Receivers Coach Ron Dickerson - again trying to shake last Saturdays multiple drops by his troops - was asked about the progress of the wideouts thus far this spring.
"Saturday, I don't know if I would have claimed them or myself," he smiled, "but I challenged them and they came back really strong the last two practices. They have worked hard and are having fun again."
"Shay (Hodge) and Dexter (McCluster) have been real consistent and steady, which we expected. The last two days, Markeith Summers and Lionel Breaux have stepped up their games and Andrew Harris has raised his level of play. He's gotten his swagger back."
All eyes are on Summers and Breaux because Hodge and Dex are givens.
"We lost Mike Wallace, so their roles have changed. They have to carry a heavier load now. They showed me they can get it done last year, but they have to be more consistent because their roles are expanded," Dickerson explained. "We are looking for every-play consistency and we are starting to see some of that here lately.
"Lionel has to wear a lot of hats and play all over and a lot of people don't realize the difficulty in that, but he's handling it. He seems to come through in the clutch and that is what we are looking for.
"Drew is big and physical. He can get physical with DBs. He has good hands when he trusts them. He can position himself to get the ball. He brings a lot to the table and will be utilized more next fall."
The ace up Dickerson's sleeve may well be incoming freshman Patrick Patterson.
"I'm going to throw the book at him and then I'm going to trim it down. We're going to see where he fits in and go from there," Dickerson closed. "We feel he's going to fit in well with some of the things we do offensively because he's big and can come down with the ball in traffic.
* WR Jacarious Lucas was held out of practice today with a pulled hamstring. No word on how long he will be out of spring training yet.
* Mr. Automatic, Josh Shene, and his running mate, Bryson Rose, had a rough day kicking field goals in a heavy wind. They were a combined 1-3 in a short kicking session from 32 yards out. They are usually 3-3 from that distance.
* DT Jerrell Powe missed Monday's practice with a hyperextended elbow, but he returned to practice on Wednesday with his left arm heavily bandaged.
* A young player who is drawing praise during practice and showing up by making plays, particularly in the passing game is backup tight end RS frosh Ferbia Allen. Great hands, good speed. All he needs is 10-15 more pounds in the offseason to give him some pop in his run blocking and Ferbia could be ready to go in the fall at a need position.
* To illuminate Nutt's statements on the LBs, there were three big hits in the middle drills. Two were made by Walker and one by Trahan. They were the kind of hits that made players on both sides of the ball start yelling. Nothing like the loud crack of the pads to get the adrenaline flowing. . .
* The depth chart at running back has not changed this spring, but it may have tightened up with the emergence of Devin Thomas lately. It's still Bolden, Eason, Davis and Thomas, but the gap between the one and four has narrowed. Great problem to have in any offense.
* Do we say often enough how remarkable McCluster is? Today in team drills, he was covered like a blanket in the end zone and the pass was tipped by a defender and then batted in the air by Dex, who had the presence of mind in a maelstrom of humans flying around him to dive for the completion. Amazing, but that's Dexter.
The rest of the week will go like this. Thursday no practice. With no school Friday for Easter Holidays, the Rebs will treat the day like a pro day - 8:30 a.m. meeting and 10:30 a.m. practice until 1 p.m. Get some rest and scrimmage Saturday morning around 10-10:30.
Wednesday Practice Report -
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