Last week - the first week of fall camp for the 2009 season - was for knocking the rust off the veterans and giving a lot of reps to the promising freshmen/newcomers.
This week, starting Monday, the veterans are expected to get more reps as things "tighten up" in camp. It's the last week of two-a-days and no classes, so everyone anticipates a necessary grind while football is the only thing on the squad's minds.
"We had a good, long practice today, a little over 2 1/2 hours, and we ran about 70 plays," said Coach Houston Nutt. "The first and second teams got most of the work and it was very physical. The guys were moving around good and there was a lot of hitting going on. We put the hammer down on them a little today and they responded well. We pushed them. This is the week to do that."
Nutt and the defensive staff moved freshman Craig Drummond from DE to defensive tackle Monday. To go with the other four - Ted Laurent, Lawon Scott, Jerrell Powe and LaMark Armour - the DT slot looks formidable.
"They are all working hard. I like the four we have in there. I hate Justin Smith got hurt. We are trying to fill a big gap there with Peria Jerry being gone. People don't understand the intensity he brought to practice every single day and what that means to a team. That is what is hard to replace, but our current guys are working hard to get there," Nutt commented. "Drummond's head is on a swivel right now, this being his first day at DT, because he is used to being on the edge and now guys are coming at him from every direction, but he's such a big body. He made some good plays today. Right now, we need him at tackle."
DL Coach Terry Price welcomed Drummond with open arms.
"Obviously, Craig struggled with assignments today, but he's a big bodied kid who moves around pretty well in there. Physically, he's better suited for inside. He does better wrestling with those centers and guards than out in space with those tackles," Price stated. "As long as he works hard, he has a chance to help us because we need one more tackle with Justin being hurt now. I think he's got a good future at DT and he's got an opportunity to play. He can easily get to 300 pounds. Remember, he's just a true freshman with a lot of room to grow and time to do it."
Price's group has been one of the more successful in the early stages of fall camp, but he stops short from too much praise when asked if his unit is dominating.
"I wouldn't use the word dominant to describe us," he said. "We are just trying to get better every day. They work hard, but we have to stay humble and keep doing that. As soon as you start believing you are dominant, you get your butt kicked. Keep your head down and work and you will get results."
Price was asked about Greg Hardy's health and the process of replacing Peria Jerry.
"Greg is doing fine. He's going to be OK it looks like. He has some quickness and some power, he just has to keep working hard to get back to 100 percent," Price closed. "It's hard to say where we are in replacing Peria. He is as good as any DT I have seen in this league in a long, long time. He was great. Until we get to the season, we won't know where we stand in replacing him, but my feeling is that everyone will have to step up and improve their game. That's the key.
"Ted and Lawon are using their hands better, they are trying to be more physical and their movement has improved since spring. When we slant, they are doing a better job of reading the plays and redirecting their bodies. Their lateral movement is better."
* Sophomore backup FS Derrick Herman missed practice today due to his mother having to have a medical procedure. He went home to Cleveland, Miss., to be with her.
* Senior DE Emmanuel Stephens came to Ole Miss last year weighing 238 pounds. The JUCO transfer played significant snaps as a junior and was a definite contributor who made plays. This year, he should be even better. With a full year under his belt in the Rebel strength and conditioning program, Stephens is now a 255-pounder on his 6-2 frame. The added weight has not hindered his speed. In fact, he says he's a little faster. "That's the thing Coach (Don) Decker and I were careful with. I wanted to gain weight, but I didn't want to lose any speed. I haven't because I put the weight on gradually and my body has adjusted as I gained it," said Stephens. . . Stephens, in case you haven't noticed, runs like a linebacker from the DE slot. He plays behind senior Marcus Tillman on the strong side.
* When freshman Punter Tyler Campbell hits a punt right, which seems to be more and more often as he relaxes in the transition to college football, the ball makes a pronounced sound, a sharp thud, unlike any of the other punters. Monday, he was booming kicks, two of which were over 55 yards, and his hang time seems to be getting better than it was last week. Justin Sparks, who won the job in spring, has his hands full holding off Tyler. Campbell wears a knee brace on his left leg. As a high school linebacker, he got the knee injured and got in the habit of wearing a brace even after the knee was declared sound. Since the knee is vulnerable to an overzealous rusher for a right-footed punter, he will continue to wear the brace. "I think it's a mental thing," Tyler said. "I am just more comfortable wearing the brace now. I'm used to it."
* Senior Brandon Green, with Rishaw Johnson still in timeout, remained the number one right guard on the OL. . . .Freshman D.T. Shackelford is now getting more and more reps with the number two defense in front of RS freshman Jason Jones. . . No other depth chart changes have been made at this point, but this may be the week where we see some movement as the young players rise and fall.
* With so much emphasis placed on getting a first look at the newcomers last week, the job some of the veterans did in that time frame was somewhat overlooked. DT Ted Laurent is one of those. Ted changed his body in the offseason and converted some body fat to muscle. He also increased his flexibility and got stronger, which has helped him with his movement and explosiveness. So far, so good for Teddy. "I squatted 660 in the offseason, so I have definitely gotten stronger," Ted said. "I am way faster side-to-side than I have ever been. I'm more elusive and shifty. My game is getting better because of that. I know I'm going to have a big year this year because of the work I did in the offseason. Lawon got stronger too - he's always been quick. It will pay off for him too."
* OLB LaKenwic Haynes, who missed most of last week with a accelerated heartbeat and high blood pressure, is back to normal and is practicing again, "sparingly" Nutt said. . . OLB Lamar Brumfield (hamstring) is dressed out and is doing some work, but his hammy is not 100 percent yet, so the coaches are being cautious with his full return. . . DT Justin Smith (broken foot) is supposed to get surgery tomorrow. . . FB Dan Hoffman sustained a minor concussion Monday and will spend the night in the hospital tonight. . . No other injuries have been recorded.
* PK Josh Shene was 2-2 from 37 yards out in field goal drills.
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