Thursday Practice Report

The Rebels added another block to their preparation structure Thursday when Coach Houston Nutt held a shoulder pads and helmets workout. Friday, full pads. Saturday's 11:30 a.m. scrimmage, open to the public, will be held on the practice fields due to the new artificial turf being installed in the stadium. Read about it inside.

Another thud practice (shoulder pads and helmets) and another time Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt was pleased with the outcome of Thursday's workout.

"We had another good work day. Our guys came out here and really followed our leaders - Kendrick Lewis, Marshay Green, Jonathan Cornell, John Jerry, Daverin Geralds, Shay Hodge, Dexter, Marcus Tillman and a couple of more," said Nutt. "Those guys are really pushing the others and leading. The tempo today from start to finish was great. The weather has been nice, which has helped, but the attitude has been better.

"I was excited with how strong we finished practice today and how we didn't throw an interception this time around. We protected the ball better. That's a positive thing for us. The defense has averaged two or three turnovers a day, which means they are chasing the ball, but we protected it better today. We are getting better, but we have to keep working."

Nutt saw the offense move the chains more Thursday during situational team drills.

"We are working mostly 3rd and 8, 3rd and 5, 3rd and 7, trying to move the chains and we were able to do that more today," he continued. "We still have to keep coming, but I liked our direction in this practice."

Houston is excited about the competition at running back.

"It's a heavy battle right now with a lot of intensity. Brandon Bolden, Cordera Eason, Enrique Davis, who really committed himself during the offseason, and those three freshmen are doing a fine job," Nutt explained. "Saturday's scrimmage will be big for all of them in terms of our evaluations.

"Those three freshmen (Rodney Scott, Tim Simon, Korvic Neat) excited me the first time I saw them out here and I am more excited now after seeing them in some contact. But I'm very excited about a lot of our freshmen. We knew we had a good class, but we didn't know how special they were. Z. Mason, Pat Patterson, Terrell Grant, those three backs, our two defensive backs (Charles) Sawyer and (Ryan) Campbell are physical guys. Tig (Barksdale) is out of shape, but you can tell he can make plays. Our LBs - D.T. Shackelford and Joel Kight - are going to be dandies, excellent SEC linebackers. Up front, Bobby Massie and Emmanuel McCray are coming on now. Raymond Cotton made a few plays today as well. We are excited about a lot of them."

There has been a lot of speculation of who might back up Dexter and Brandon Bolden in the Wild Rebel.

"We look for someone who can handle a huddle, read a defense and handle the ball with proper timing with a guy coming in motion. It's not as easy as Dexter and Brandon make it look," said Houston. "We're thinking maybe Pat Patterson, Rodney Scott, Tim Simon might be candidates. We'll see."

RS frosh QB Nathan Stanley still maintains a slight edge over senior Billy Tapp for the backup slot, but with a caveat.

"Nathan is ahead right now, but as I said before, the thing about Billy is that we have no problem putting him into a game because he's smart and won't do anything to get you beat," Nutt added. "The scrimmages will tell a lot about that battle, but Nathan has come a long way since he first got here and is starting to grasp things better and understand what we want. He has a special arm."

Backup OLB Lamar Brumfield missed Thursday's practice with a pulled hamstring.

"I'm hoping he won't be out too much longer. We don't think it's a bad pull. He probably won't go tomorrow, but may be back after that," he noted.

Random Notes:

* LB LaKenwic Haynes missed practice again today as the training staff continues to monitor his heart and blood pressure. His heart rate and BP got too high earlier this week and the trainers and doctors are holding him out as a precaution. "We are hoping he will be back next week. His condition is not career-ending and seems to be under control now," Nutt stated. "He had a touch of the flu last week and we think that triggered it. He should be fine, but we will take no chances with the heart."

* Prior to today, in the wide receiver battle, frosh Pat Patterson has the most catches of wideouts with Shay Hodge second and frosh Ja'Mes Logan third. McCluster was the only one, however, who has not recorded a dropped pass to this point. Shay has only dropped two.

* With Rishaw Johnson still in the coaches' doghouse, senior Brandon Green continues to man the number one RG slot. No word on when Rishaw may emerge from the time out.

* Freshman Punter Tyler Campbell had a 60-yard punt with 4.9 hang time today. Not a bad start for the rookie, but consistency is an issue he will have to overcome.

* After a couple of uncharacteristic days throwing the ball, Jevan Snead looked more like the Snead we got used to last year. No picks, great decision making and some really nifty reads and throws. Good to see after a sluggish start the first couple of days.

* With Brumfield out, Trey Tripp took his place behind senior Patrick Trahan at OLB. Also, today, the coaches wanted to take a closer look at Schackelford and had him run some reps with the number 2 defense. He and fellow freshman Kight were paired together and they showed good mettle to be so young.

* It is official. There will be no reality TV show chronicling the first part of the season of the team. Nutt felt it would be too much of a distraction and they were asking for too much access.

* It comes as no surprise that Marshay and Dexter are the top punt return guys, but the coaches are already looking to next year in grooming very similar type players in Neat and Jesse Grandy to take their place in the future.

* Many think that quarterbacks have it easy in practice. Go hand off to the backs and throw a few passes while the defense is not allowed to hit them. All those things are true, but a practice for a QB under Kent Austin is much more strenuous than most might think. The QBs spend at least three or four periods each day on fast-paced footwork drills and another period or two on full-speed fundamentals. They get drenched with sweat too, despite popular opinion. The point, they aren't lounging around with a toothpick in their mouths. They are working and getting after it.

* In middle run drills, when everyone knows what is coming, Shackelford was laying some lumber and Simon continued to show why he is still at running back. D.T. cracked leather a couple of times and Simon showed great balance in his inside running. . . RS frosh DE Gerald Rivers also made a couple of good plays and was getting some kudos from DL Coach Terry Price.

* In one-on-one line drills, it has become apparent that DE Kentrell Lockett is no longer a one-dimensional player who relies solely on a speed rush. The added 15 pounds to his frame are allowing him to jaw up OL more. Speed is still his go-to weapon, but power is more in play than ever with Kentrell. That will definitely make him a more complete player and more effective against the run.

* Also in line one-on-ones, a terrific battle is emerging each day between DT Jerrell Powe and C Daverin Geralds. Two titans going after each other with the outcome usually a draw. Intense.

* Two other defensive players also got pats on the back from Price in the one-on-ones - DT Justin Smith and DE Craig Drummond. Maybe those two are starting to come around more. We'll see.

* In team drills, Rodney Scott showed he is not just a speed back when he basically ran over SS Fon Ingram in the open field. His low center of gravity and thick legs make him more powerful than one might think.

* RBs Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis have already gained respect for the two freshmen LBs. "When you go against them in pass protection drills, you better bring it, because they are," said Davis, with Bolden standing next to him nodding his head vigorously.

Speaking of Davis, he made one run in team drills that showed the new Enrique. He found a seam in the middle, got to the linebacker level where things were closing up and quickly cut to the outside for a big gain. He could not do that as fluently last year. That addition to his arsenal will help his cause immensely.

* Saturday's scrimmage will start at roughly 11:30 a.m. on the practice fields. It is open to the public. The reason it is not in the stadium is because the new artificial turn is being installed starting tomorrow, hopefully.

* Tomorrow is the first day of full pads. The 5:30 p.m. practice is open to the public.

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