"It's always good to scrimmage and see where we are," said Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt after Saturday's scrimmage that focused on the younger players. "We know we have a long way to go, but I thought the longer we went the more we saw some of the younger players getting into a rhythm and making plays like Pat Patterson, Rodney Scott, Tim Simon, Alex Williams, Craig Drummond, Bobby Massie, D.T. Shackelford and Joel Kight. You can tell a lot about a player when they perform when they are hot and tired.
"We didn't play the ones that much. We just wanted to get them a taste of it. I thought we started slowly. We'll watch it on film tonight, but I think we need to go to another level as far as tempo next week."
Freshman TB Korvic Neat and WR Jesse Grandy also caught Nutt's eye.
"They both have great speed and quickness. I worry a little about Korvic's ball security, he needs to work hard on that, but those two are part of a class that could be really special one day and I am very proud of what they have done so far," Houston said.
The redshirt question will be coming up soon and Nutt said it won't be easy to answer.
"It's always tough. We always want to play them," Houston said. "We have two good weeks to see how they continue to develop and handle the pressure and then we'll go from there."
It wasn't just the freshmen who got an extra look in the scrimmage. Some of the redshirt freshmen, like QB Nathan Stanley and DE Gerald Rivers, et al, did too.
"Gerald had a couple of quarterback sacks and has come a long way since last year," Nutt continued. "Nathan did not do as well as we would have hoped. He was complaining about a wet ball and things like that. Get another ball in there. It's not against the rules. He needs to do better next week, but he did make some good throws that should have been caught.
"Overall, on offense, we had problems with the center-QB exchange, we didn't catch the ball like we should and we had too many penalties. Like I said, we have a long way to go."
Coming into the campaign, LT Bradley Sowell was a player everyone was keeping a close watch on. So far, so good.
"Right now, Bradley is doing pretty good. He has to get a little more physical and keep working on his pass protection," Nutt added. "With the animals we go against on the edge and the speed they have, he's got his hands full, but he's gotten better."
With DT Justin Smith going down with a broken foot yesterday, Nutt commented on the inside play on the DL.
"I'm excited about Ted Laurent, Lawon Scott and Jerrell Powe, who is getting better, and LaMark Armour made a few plays today," he stated. "We need to keep coming there."
Big Bobby Massie drew some evaluation from the head man as well.
"His progress is slow because his head is spinning and then you have to go block Greg Hardy and Marcus Tillman and Kentrell Lockett. That's not easy, but we know his potential. He's seeing speed he has never seen before and is going through a learning curve, but he'll be OK. We even put him at right tackle a few snaps today to see how he'd do there and get those snaps on film," Nutt noted.
Nutt was asked where senior TB Cordera Eason is fitting in right now.
"He made a good run today and we can count on him in pass protection and in the pass game as a receiver," Houston stated. "It's good to have the backs we have, both in quality and number. Enrique (Davis) is in great shape and Brandon (Bolden) is looking good. We will just keep working and see who separates themselves from the rest."
Random Notes & Quotes:
* As mentioned, Rivers had two sacks in today's workouts and is not the same Gerald Rivers from last year's rookie campaign. "He's not a rookie anymore. He's with us, the veterans," said Kentrell Lockett. "We expect him to play like a veteran and he's doing it so far. He's bigger and stronger and is not afraid to go inside and dig it out. I like his progress.". . . Sowell said the same thing. "Gerald has turned into yet another defensive end on our team who is almsot impossible to block," Sowell smiled. "He's going to be a beast in time, just like the ones we already have.". . . For his part, Rivers said he can tell his extra weight and strength have helped. "I'm more confident now. I feel I can challenge guys who were knocking me around last year," Rivers noted. "The strength has helped me become more fluid. I have also learned a lot of technique from Coach (Terry) Price and from Hardy and Lockett. I'm coming on but there's a lot more I want to accomplish. I just want to get in there and play."
* WR/TB Dexter McCluster was not real happy with the production of the offense in Saturday's scrimmage, even though he hardly broke a sweat. "We are playing against one of the best defenses in the SEC, I believe, but we still have to do better," said Dex. "I was disappointed with the lack of energy we had. We had too many penalties, too many fumbled snaps and too many balls on the ground. We did not match the intensity of our defense or the physicality of our defense."
* Eason broke off a 65-yard run early in the scrimmage. Even though it was called back for a procedure penalty, he showed improved speed in taking it to the house and outrunning the Rebel DBs. "I feel faster. I worked hard on my flexibility and did some yoga in the offseason. I am the same size I was last year, but I'm quicker and more flexible," Cordera said. "What was neat about the run today is that I didn't break down or slow down after 50 yards. I finished it strong. I think all the backs picked up flexibility and speed in the offseason. We did not do a real good job on offense today, but we are learning some new plays and working in a lot of new personnel. When we get it down pat and work out our personnel rotations, we will be fine."
* On the injury front, DT Justin Smith was at practice on crutches after breaking his foot in practice Friday. . . OLB LaKenwic Haynes (heart monitor) is still out, but OLB Lamar Brumfield returned after missing a couple of days with a hamstring pull. . . There were no injuries, according to Nutt, during the scrimmage.
* PK Josh Shene was off yesterday, hitting only 1-3 field goal attempts due to "poor alignment." Today, he was the "old" Josh, hitting all five of his attempts from 37 yards or beyond. But also perfect in four kicks from the same distance was Bryson Rose, who did an excellent job as well.
* The Rebels still have not worked any live kickoff coverage, but they did some half-speed work today prior to teh scrimmage. The main guys, at least for now, will be Kendrick Lewis, George Helow, Fon Ingram, Joel Kight, Jason Jones, D.T. Shackelford, Brandon Sanders, Marcus Temple, Johnny Brown and Derrick Herman, all guys who can run and have a headhunter mentality.
* In the few snaps the ones did play, one player stood out on defense - Lewis. Tackling used to be an issue with him. No more. He's also gotten much better at diagnosing plays and closing down from his FS slot in a hurry. Two times in the scrimmage, he hit running backs in the backfield for losses.
* If you are looking for players who are backups but are good enough to start, look no further than DT Jerrell Powe and DE Emmanuel Stephens, who did a combo number on an RB for a 4-yard loss in the scrimmage. Both will play a lot of football for the Rebs this fall.
* Frosh CB Charles Sawyer has a lot to learn, but you can't teach courage. He made a nice open field tackle on RB Enrique Davis with some heavy contact. Davis went down in his tracks with the Sawyer hit.
* The "fear" with backup Center Mark Jean-Louis is his snapping when the QB is in the shotgun. That fear is warranted. Today he snapped one five feet over Stanley's head into the end zone. Gotta work on that big guy.
* Nutt said he and the staff would probably move somebody into Justin Smith's DT slot for the time being, possibly DE Craig Drummond, but Drum was still on the outside today and DE Garrett Ryan was moved to DT. Ryan proceeded to have two QB sacks against the number three offense.
* DC Tyrone Nix said he was anxious to see if his young LBs had "any teeth" with full pads on. After the scrimmage he said, "they have teeth, now we just have to sharpen them, but they will bite."
* An often overlooked player who is making a positive position transition is sophomore FS Derrick Herman. Herman has excellent speed and has gained some strength since last year. He's also sporadically making more nice plays as he catches on more and more. He will play on special teams and is a player to watch in a backup role to Lewis.
* Frosh PK Andrew Ritter thought today was going to be the day when he would finally get to do some "live" kickoff work. His debut was pushed back a day, but he's real anxious. "In practice away from the team, I am hitting the ball better than I ever have," he said. "Kicking off from the 30 instead of the 40 was kind of intimidating at first, but I feel I have adjusted. Also, funny thing, I thought I had been kicking off a two-inch tee in high school, which is allowed, and would have an adjustment to a 1-inch tee which is used in college. Come to find out, I have been using a 1-inch tee all along, I guess my ruler is wrong, and I have no adjustment there at all."
* Eason was asked about the three freshman running backs. "Simon is big, strong and fast. He's going to be real good. Once Rodney learns to run lower, he's going to be real good too. Korvic is so fast - he reminds me of Dexter when Dexter was a freshman," he stated. "I think all three have great futures, they are really good and not intimidated with college football at all."
* Freshman WR Pat Patterson had two touchdown catches today, one from 60 yards that garnered a roar from the 1,000-plus fans attending the open workout. With pretty good coverage from Ryan Campbell, Patterson streaked down the sidelines, outjumped Campbell for the ball, maintained his balance as Ryan crumbled at his feet and rumbled into the end zone.
* OL Coach Mike Markuson indicated earlier in the week that he would not play freshman Bobby Massie at both tackle slots. He must have had a change of heart during the week and must believe Bobby can handle the mental load. Massie played a few snaps at RT today in place of John Jerry with the starting OL. A big priority is finding a third tackle. It looks as if, so far, Massie is it and that requires knowing both the right and left tackle slots.
* Practices are now closed to the public. The media is allowed to view the first four periods. Sunday's workout will be in shoulder pads and helmets and will focus primarily on correcting the scrimmage mistakes and on special teams. It will begin at 3:30 p.m.
Saturday scrimmage report
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