Wednesday Practice Report

An otherwise "pretty good day" turned sour when it was announced to the media that freshman SS Tig Barksdale will miss the 2009 season due to "failing his physical exam." Read about it inside.

The Rebels had a very good workout in full pads in the afternoon session of two-a-days Wednesday, according to Coach Houston Nutt, but a pall was cast over the day when it was revealed freshman strong safety Tig Barksdale would miss the 2009 season due to failing his physical exam.

Football Trainer Tim Mullins met with the media after practice.

"Tig's heart is good. There are no murmurs or enlarged heart or anything, but we ran some other tests that showed abnormal results. Due to Hippa Laws and the request of the family, we cannot discuss those issues," Mullins said. "We feel his medical issues can be resolved, but he is going to follow up with his family physicians and use their direction and guidance with those issues. For our part, we will keep this private due to the reasons I stated.

"How long he will be out will depend on the follow up tests and treatment. There is no timeline as of right now, but we wish him the best and hope the issues will be resolved."

Nutt was saddened by the new Tig news, but the show, as they say, must go on and Wednesday's workout was productive.

"Tig wants to be on the field and he's down, but you have to follow doctor's orders. We basically played a game today after getting some fundamental and special teams work done," said Nutt. "Some of these guys have looked good in drills, but when we get to team, it's been moving too fast for them. The best thing to do is experience, experience, experience by playing the game. We went 75-80 plays and it was a pretty physical day."

The good things Houston saw?

"I tell you what, Jevan Snead, without Dexter and Shay most of the day, was executing so well today. Handling blitzes, getting us in the right play and out of the wrong plays. The offensive line is getting better. Brandon Bolden and Cordera Eason took steps forward today. Defensively, all the guys on the front - Tillman, Lockett, Stephens, Scott, Laurent, all of them - we appreciate. They are every day warriors. They come to work every single day."

Nutt said Jevan's ability to check at the line has been increased because he's better at it.

"We're giving him more because he's better now," Nutt explained. "He ended last year very well, but he's much better now in just being able to run the offense."

On the veteran backs emerging, Nutt said he expected it.

"We feel good about the guys who have been here - Cordera, Brandon, Enrique Davis. They understand what we want, but our young guys - Rodney Scott, Simon and Neat - are very talented. We see flashes that make you go whoa! We say we have a lot of running backs, but we need them all to get through and we want it to stay that way, meaning we are healthy."

There were no injuries in today's "scrimmage."

Random Notes:

* Freshman Wide Receiver Terrell Grant sprained his ankle in Tuesday's practice and did not participate Wednesday. "That ankle is swollen pretty good, but being a freshman, he didn't know to get treatment and things like that," Nutt said. "He probably could have gone today, but we are going to hold him out a day or two. He says he'll be back soon. We'll see."

* Fullback Dan Hoffman, who sustained a concussion Monday, remained sidelined Wednesday but is hopeful of a Thursday return to action.

* Senior defensive end Greg Hardy did not practice Wednesday, but he said there is no cause for alarm. "He was a little sore, so we rested him today. He should be ready to go tomorrow after being in a boot today," said Nutt.

* The formula for blocking a placement kick has been the same for decades. Speed on the outside to try to get to the ball off the edge, and power with some mobility up the middle to try to collapse the pocket. The Rebels worked on live field goal and extra point blocks Wednesday and used that combination. Across the front, from left to right, was Marshay Green, Kendrick Lewis, Allen Walker, Marcus Tillman, Ted Laurent, Lawon Scott, Kentrell Lockett, Patrick Trahan, Johnny Brown and Cassius Vaughn. MLB Jonathan Cornell is the safety valve in case of a fake.

* The formula for preventing a blocked placement is a solid wall of human flesh made up of the biggest players on the team forming as an impenetrable mass. Across the front, from left to right were: Ferbia Allen on the wing, Bradley Sowell, Bobby Massie, John Jerry, DS Preston Powers, Reid Neely, Alex Wahsington, A.J. Hawkins and right wing Gerald Harris.

* In the live field goal matchup, the kicking team "won." Josh Shene was 5-5 from 32 yards out against a full, kitchen-sink rush and Bryson Rose was 1-1.

* In punt drills, with a semi-live rush which equaled mock pressure, the punters were kicking into a stiff headwind and it affected them. Justin Sparks had kicks of 36, 35, 32 and 40 yards. Frosh Tyler Campbell fared a little better on a booming first kick of 48 yards, but then followed with punts of 33 and 36 yards.

* OLB Lakenwic Haynes, who missed a couple of days while on a heart monitor due to an accelerated heartbeat, appears back to normal now and was participating in more drills Wednesday. . . OLB Lamar Brumfield (hamstring) also seems to be getting better and is getting a little more action.

* Freshman WR Jesse Grandy said his head is spinning a bit with all a new offensive player has to learn, but he's excited where he is now. "I'm in the learning process, and it is more than I anticipated coming in, but I am not discouraged at all," said the talented speedster. "I have work to do, but the past week and this week have shown me I belong on this level. I'm excited about the future." Grandy is not only working at WR, but is also backing up Dexter McCluster and Marshay Green at punt return. "Jesse will be an All-American punt returner one day," Green, who has taken Grandy under his wing, declared.

* After a few rough spots, for him, it appears QB Jevan Snead has shaken off the offseason rust and is getting back into a rhythm, according to OC/ Quarterbacks Coach Kent Austin. "Jevan has thrown the ball extremely well the last few days," Austin noted. "I am very pleased with the progress he's making now. The timing with his receivers is getting better with each rep and each workout." Austin also said backup Nathan Stanley "had a better day throwing the ball Tuesday."

* Kyle Caskey is a new face on the scene. He's an intern on the coaching staff trying to work his way up in the SEC. He's easy to recognize at practice. He's the guy carrying a clipboard and jotting down stats, such as punt return info and defensive info for the coaches to have after practice. Kyle got to Ole Miss after being a fulltime coach at Indiana State for three years, but prior to that, he was the grad assistant for current Rebel Safety Coach Kim Dameron at Louisiana-Monroe. Kyle has two masters degrees, and is a certified math teacher, but his heart is in coaching.

* Now, for the weekly Bradley Sowell update. "We are picking things up a lot this week. Last week we were struggling picking up our calls, but now we are smooth there and that has allowed us to be more physical like in middle drills and other contact drills," said Sowell. "We were rusty at first and trying to get our legs back, but now we are making good strides. It also doesn't hurt us that we are going against great defensive linemen every single day. It's tough, but we are starting to catch up speed-wise with them. We are very lucky to have guys like that to go against. Lockett, Tillman, Hardy, Stephens, Rivers - they make us better. I still need to work on getting my hands inside better and bending a little more, but I am getting there."

* With Nutt's praise of the veteran backs, Bolden was a likely source of some quotes about the subject. "We have to step up. We have to feed off each other. We want to match what the other guy is doing and better it. Competition is making us all better," Bolden said. "Rodney and Korvic and Tim are fueling us to get better. I'm improving my pass protection because I want to be as good at it as Cordera. We compete against each other and try to outdo each other. It helps us both. I feel the offense is starting to step up. We feel better about ourselves and the rhythm we are starting to get into. We are starting to look like we did at the end of spring."

* Houston also passed kudos along to the DL, so Tillman was approached after practice. "We are getting better because we are willing to work. We are improving the little things like hand placement and doing it with a lot of effort," Tillman said. "We are confident and there is a lot of excitement in camp and around us. We have more vocal guys this year too. Our safeties and corners talk it up and help motivate us." Tillman also sees recent improvement from the offensive line he has to go against every snap of every day. "It's getting harder and harder to make a play on our side of the ball," Tillman said. "I know our intensity level hasn't fallen off so that means they are getting better. All of them are doing a good job."

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