While most were still in REM time, the Rebels were in go mode.
Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt called for a 5:30 morning workout today to make up for a missed practice earlier in the spring.
Only one player was late, and he only missed the first 15 minutes of the shorts/shirts workout.
"We didn't put pads on this morning because we wanted them to get the soreness out from the last two very physical practices," said Nutt. "The kids moved around good. We had the same type practice without pads."
Without much hesitation, Nutt singled out a few players who caught his eye in the practice under the lights in the IPF.
"Jevan (Snead) had a real good day today and (WR) Andrew Harris continues to make strides for us," Nutt added. "Markeith Summers has been getting deep for us, we just need him to be more consistent.
"And I know I keep mentioning these guys almost every day, but our three linebackers - Allen Walker, Jonathan Cornell and Patrick Trahan are doing very well. I've also been impressed with (DE) Emmanuel Stephens. I wish Patrick and Emmanuel were juniors because they are now starting to get it and they would really be something else a year from now."
The Rebel defense has been clicking on just about every cylinder, the first team for sure. Nutt was asked if that has been frustrating for the Reb offense.
"It can be, but yesterday we put our offense in the worst situations you can be in - third and long," Houston said. "We needed to see who could handle that type of pressure.
"It can be frustrating, but in the end, it's good for us and will make the offense better."
Nutt has been very pleased with the last two weeks of spring training.
"The kids have really stepped up the last two weeks. We've been really physical and really energized," he continued. "We haven't tackled to the ground a lot, but there's still some big licks being passed out there."
RS frosh QB Nathan Stanley continues to impress Nutt as well.
"He had a really good day Saturday. He's making better decisions and is not trying to force as many throws," said Nutt. "He's a strong arm kid who can throw any ball. I've been proud of his progress this spring."
Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix, who has lost 30 pounds since the Cotton Bowl and is aiming for "10 more," has his troops humming. Each day, it seems, they take another step in the right direction.
"It looks like they are understanding the effort and intensity we expect. I still don't have all of them on the same page, but we are getting there," Nix said. "We are pretty good with our first unit in terms of being where we expected to be at this point. We are a little bit behind with our backups of where we hoped to be, but we will continue to rep them this week and see if we can get them caught up."
When the spring began, one of the main topics of conversation and one of the top goals was to try to find a replacement for DT Peria Jerry.
"I see guys who have the ability and are striving to replace Peria. They seem hungry," he noted. "The biggest surprise has been Jerrell Powe, who has had a really good spring and is making an impact up front. We're getting there."
Like Nutt, Tyrone has spoken often about Trahan. He added a little more today.
"Trahan has had a great spring. I wish he was a junior, but I am tickled we have him here for one more year. He's worked hard, he's been consistent and he's been a leader," Nix closed.
* How good has the defense been? We'll let Nutt tell you. "Man, they frenzied yesterday (Monday)," he smiled. "On film, they were special. If they stay on this path, they would not be a defense I would want to face in the fall."
* Players have two routes they can take on this level. They can do everything they can to get on the field or be content just to be on a team. You see both, but it is particularly exciting when you recognize one trying the former. Converted Fullback Derrick Davis is one of those. Derrick, you will recall, got a taste of playing in games with two TD receptions out of the backfield in 2008. He wants more, but he saw the handwriting on the wall at tailback, where the numbers are great, and recognized the team needed more fullbacks. He quietly went about his business of putting on 10-15 pounds, which he is holding with no ill effects on his movement, and this spring he has emerged as the backup FB who will get playing time in the fall. Good story.
* The injury list today had Marcus Temple (shoulder), Melvin Harris, Greg Hardy, George Helow and Don Hargroder sidelined. There have been some minor injuries this spring, but so far it's been similar to last fall - not a whole lot of time is being missed due to injury. Kudos, again, to S&C Coach Don Decker and his staff for preparing the team for a tough spring training and to Nutt and his staff for knowing when to push the accelerator and when to hit the brakes. Just another example of this staff taking care of their team and saving them for when it really counts.
* For the second day in a row, Temple's backup - Julian Whitehead - picked off a pass. Nothing like taking advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself. . . Also, backup CB Jeremy McGee continues to show up regularly. Today, McGee played an out pattern perfectly, picked off a Stanley pass and raced down the sidelines for a long TD. Plays like that are one reason why the DBs - arguably - are considered by most around the team as the most improved unit on the field. They have gone from a major concern, maybe even a glaring weakness, to competent and, maybe, before all is said and done, better than that. "We have to give our front seven some of the credit for that because they have put on a very good pass rush this spring, but the DBs have gotten a lot better in their own right," Nutt said. "They still aren't the ideal size, but they aren't a weakness any more."
* The Rebs will hold their last real physical practice tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon at 3. Friday's workout will be a rehearsal and Saturday at 1 p.m will be the annual Grove Bowl.
* The Grove Bowl format will be what the coaches consider the ones (which includes most of the twos as well) against "the rest." The game will be four 8-minute quarters and the Red Team (the rest) will be given seven points at the start of each quarter.
Tuesday practice report -
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