Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt started talking before he ever got to the media in attendance at Friday's practice in the IPF.
It was easy to tell something serious was on his mind.
"When Daverin Geralds, who is a little gimpy right now, is not out there doing the snapping, you can definitely tell the difference," said Nutt. "That's the thing about our offensive line. We are thin and inexperienced, but that's what spring training is for, to develop the guys who have not played any or much before.
"You take Daverin out and I'll tell you what, you see where you are. Mark Jean-Louis is hustling and has gotten better this spring, but he's not ready to make the shotgun snaps yet. Brandon Green is trying to learn both guards. We just have to keep bringing them."
Nutt stressed that he was not being critical of Jean-Louis, who had never played center before this spring, but rather to point out the difference between an experienced player and one with no experience.
"Our quarterbacks had to be real good athletes to catch some of those snaps today," Nutt said. "Right, left, on the ground, 12 feet high. It's not his fault - I'm not making fun of him. As I said, he's improved, but when you get used to a guy like Daverin, it's an eye opener.
"It's a hard job and a huge responsibility being the center. Your job is to get the ball to the quarterback, call out defenses with Tyrone (Nix) bringing all kinds of blitzes at you and then blocking. It's not easy. Mark has gotten better, but we need him to keep working at it in case something happens to Daverin."
For the record, Geralds tweaked his knee but is expected to play a couple of series in tomorrow's scrimmage.
A player who made some positive noise Friday was WR Andrew Harris.
"Andrew has taken a big step. He's got to be more consistent, but today he made a pair of one-hand catches and converts another key route," Houston added. "But the issue is that on the next play he didn't get the audible from Jevan (Snead) and we had a negative play.
"What I am proud of is that Andrew is now getting two out of three right instead of one out of three, so he has definitely taken a step in the right direction."
Snead has been taken for granted this spring as most eyes have been on developing players and not the stalwarts and stars, but Nutt was finally asked about his top quarterback.
"This week, he has really stepped up his game. We were not excited about last Saturday's scrimmage, but this week he has focused and improved," Houston stated. "He's way more comfortable this spring than last spring. All of communication of getting the plays and calling them in the huddle is smooth. All the little things of organization and communication are tight. We want him to finish spring on a strong note starting with tomorrow's scrimmage."
The Rebs will hold a 75-play scrimmage tomorrow moring around 10:30 in the stadium.
"I'd like the ones to get about 30-35 plays. If we go past 75 plays, it will be to get the threes more reps and get us some film on them," Nutt explained. "We'll start out at the minus 1, minus 35, 50 and plus 20 and then do that with the twos and threes.
"We need to be on the same page. We need to see 11 guys executing together with no penalties and no fumbles. We'll be watching everyone and will be expecting a lot of players to compete for some roles on our team in the fall."
* After several practices of experimentation on the OL, the Rebs have settled, for the remainder of sping, on this starting unit: LT Bradley Sowell, LG Reid Neely, C Daverin Geralds, RG Rishaw Johnson, RT John Jerry. At first, Johnson and Sowell were on the same side, but it appears the coaches decided to separate two inexperienced players and flank them with experienced players. That lineup should remain the rest of spring.
* There have been no changes from the start of spring training until the end of the third week in the starting lineup of the defense. Here it is: DE Marcus Tillman, DTs Lawon Scott and Ted Laurent, DE Kentrell Lockett, OLBs Allen Walker and Patrick Trahan, MLB Jonathan Cornell, SS Johnny Brown, FS Kendrick Lewis, CBs Marshay Green and Cassius Vaughn.
* ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit was on campus Wednesday interviewing Snead. ESPN is planning on airing a special segment for five days on who they project to be the top five QBs in the nation - Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Terrell Pryor and our very own Jevan Snead. No word yet on when that series will air.
* Tyler King, a fullback from Bradford, GA via Hargrave, came to visit Ole Miss over the weekend. He is an Andy Hartmann clone except about two inches taller. He is considering walking on in the fall.
* The Rebs practiced in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts today in anticipation of a tough scrimmage Saturday.
* On the 2008 defense, Peria Jerry not only plugged up holes, he created and made big plays and opened up avenues for others to make some big plays. This spring, the defensive linemen have been trying to create their own havoc and develop their own playmaking ability beyond what is required of the position they play. Lately, we've started seeing some of that out of different sources - Laurent, Scott, Powe, Tillman, and Cornell all come to mind. There's a difference in cutting through the wind or drafting off the leader and the Rebel DL is learning that quickly and trying to do something about it.
* The Reb defense did a much better job of tackling last year than the previous years. Expect nothing less in 2009. Why? Because for the first 10-15 minutes of practice, all the defensive players do is go from station to station doing different tackling drills which stress the fundamentals of footwork, leverage and technique of tackling. It's paid off.
Friday Practice Report -
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