With the veterans seeing limited action, Ole Miss took the field Saturday for a contact-filled scrimmage under perfect conditions in Oxford.
While the defense has dominated the early portions of camp, it was the offense that shined in the two hour session, as the first team defense spent most of the day on the sidelines cheering their counterparts.
"We had a very good scrimmage overall," said Nutt. "We got to see a lot of things we were looking for with our younger guys. It was basically what we thought, but it's always good to check one more time. Jevan (Snead) looked extremely sharp. He and Shay Hodge and Dexter McCluster, in limited work, looked great. You know what they can do and they showed that today.
"We know what the ones can do for the most part, but I consider Jerrell Powe, Emmanuel Stephens and a couple of more on that unit as starters. We wanted to get that second defense rolling. I thought they did a pretty nice job as a unit."
It's no secret, but as junior quarterback Jevan Snead goes, so goes the Ole Miss offense.
Throughout much of preseason practice, Snead and company have struggled to find a rhythm. A stingy Rebel defense has certainly played a part, but some new faces along the offensive line have led to a unit somewhat lacking in the cohesiveness department.
However, after seeing the Stephenville, Texas native notch a sharp 8-11 performance with 105 yards and two TDs through the air Saturday, it's safe to say Snead is getting back to his 2008 form.
"Jevan was as good (Saturday) as I have ever seen him," OC Kent Austin said. "He saw everything - the hots, the progressions, he saw safety down on the post pattern for a short TD, he recognized blitz and he threw the ball really well. He was just really, really sharp."
"I feel like I had a pretty good day," Snead added. "My receivers really helped me out. There were a couple of times where the defense brought some people off the edge and the receivers did a great job of looking off the ball and just knowing what they were doing. It made my job a lot easier. Not to mention, there were a couple of times I didn't have to make checks. Our o-line picked it up and the backs did a great job too. When everybody's working together like that, it makes it a lot easier."
Shackelford Impressive (Again):
While Nutt has often showered praise on his talented crop of freshmen this fall, no newcomer has made a bigger impression over the course of two practice weeks than MLB D.T. Shackelford.
Shackelford, who showed again Saturday why many consider him a candidate for immediate playing time with his impressive play at middle linebacker, is already running with the second team defense and will also be a valuable part of special teams come Memphis.
"We're looking for some young guys to step up and so far we've seen a lot of progress in the young guys," senior linebacker Patrick Trahan said. "We call D.T. ‘young wild man.' He's just full of energy and he has a constant motor on him. When you hustle, good things will happen to you."
"The guy who is standing out right now is D.T. Shackelford. He's getting better with every rep," DC Tyrone Nix said. "He's making plays and is very active."
Though a regular occurrence during August, Ole Miss found its name in another preseason top-25 Saturday, as the Associated Press tabbed the Rebels as its No. 8 team entering the regular season.
It marks the highest preseason ranking in nearly 40 years for the Rebels, who were tabbed No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches poll.
"We're appreciative, but like I've told our guys, it doesn't mean that much," Nutt said. "I'm appreciative, we're thankful, we appreciate the recognition, but that goes out the window when that ball is teed up. It didn't mean anything to us when we weren't ranked anything last year. So it's the same attitude you have to have. You have to play between those white lines, you've got to be physical, in great shape and play really good football to win one game."
Snead and Trahan echoed their head coach, saying preseason rankings don't mean much in the grand scheme.
"We weren't ranked anything last year. The ranking really doesn't matter," Trahan said. "They had someone ranked No. 8 last year and I'm sure they weren't ranked there at the end of the year. So it really doesn't matter."
"Honestly, I haven't put much thought into it and I don't think we really should," added Snead. "We just need to keep working hard and keep doing what we've been doing – preparing for Memphis."
Notebook: Snead Shines
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