Wednesday Practice Report

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt said at Wednesday's practice he had never had more than five players sick at one time on any team he's ever coached. Wednesday's Rebel count? 28. Read about it inside.

For the second day in a row, the Rebel team was missing over 20 players due to flu-like symptoms and injury.

The exact count of injured and sick? 28.

That, unfortunately, remains the story of the week in the Rebel camp.

"I've never been associated with anything like this," said Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt. "I don't think I have ever had five sick before at the same time, much less 20-something. It's scary. That's why we didn't have Meet The Rebels Day. Had this happened the week of the Memphis game, that would have been tough. We are blessed we have an open week this week. Based on today's report, they are still in the bed and most would not be available if we played this Saturday. Some are getting back to normal, but not a lot yet."

The new list includes many of the same names on it yesterday, but here's the updated one: WR Dexter McCluster, WR Shay Hodge, QB Jevan Snead, QB Billy Tapp, TE Gerald harris (hamstring), RT John Jerry, RG Brandon Green, DE Greg Hardy (ankle), DE Kentrell Lockett, DE Marcus Tillman, OLB Allen Walker, CB Marshay Green, SS Johnny Brown, FB Andy Hartman, FB Dan Hoffman, OLB Joel Kight, WR Jesse Grandy, FB Ben Benedetto, TE Ferbia Allen, TB Devin Thomas, TE Reggie Hicks, OL Michael Brown, WR Terrell Grant, SS Derrick Herman, WR Jeffrey Holder, QB Ryamond Cotton, WR Ja'Mes Logan, DE Jason Jones (knee) and OLB Brandon Sanders. . . . TB Enrique Davis (flu) and DT Ted Laurent (ankle) were back at practice today as was CB Jeremy McGee (attended a funeral Tuesday).

"We had a half dozen or so whose fever has gone down and are normal now, including Jevan, but there is no need to rush them back," said Football Trainer Tim Mullins. "It takes a little time to get completely over the symptoms and we want to make sure they are completely well before we return them to practice."

Nutt said that, most likely, the majority of the ones absent will be back Sunday and will miss tomorrow's practice as well. The team will take off Friday and Saturday.

McCluster was the only one who had to go to the hospital - last night, and he was released today.

"We couldn't get his fever down and he needed a lot of liquids, but he was much better today after getting some IV fluids in his system," said Nutt.

Nutt said it's difficult to run a practice with that many missing, but the ones who are healthy are getting plenty of work. The Rebs practiced in the IPF today with rain in Oxford and the surrounding area.

"The freshmen are getting a lot of reps. Guys like Tim Simon, Rodney Scott, Corey Gaines, Pat Patterson - that's all good. They will benefit from this, if there is a bright side to this sickness story," Nutt noted. "We had a good day. We got some special teams work done and a lot of fundamental work. Then we got in 50 plays with the younger guys in team work. It was really good work for them."

Offensive Coordinator Kent Austin said working with a skeleton crew is no different than working with a full house.

"We are still going to work hard and run what we run," Austin noted. "The younger guys needed the reps, that's the positive, but we need everyone back. This would have been a good week to get better, but some key guys are missing. We need them back out here.

"There are a lot of young kids who are still getting their assignments down and this will help them. This will help Nathan Stanley too. He's getting a lot of reps. He's coming along, but he still gets distracted at times when the defense moves on him and he loses his focus where he puts his eyes. No question he is moving forward, but the biggest thing is that he needs to play in some games. There's only so much you can get from watching film and practicing - you have to do it live and do it over and over and over again."

Random Notes:

* It was not only a skeleton team at practice today, but a skeleton coaching staff as well. No, they are not sick, they are out recruiting during the open week. (See Yancy's post on the recruiting board.) Missing were RB Coach Derrick Nix, WR Coach Ron Dickerson, CB Coach Chris Vaughn, OL Coach Mike Markuson and S Coach Kim Dameron. Asked if any of the coaches had gotten sick, Nutt deadpanned. . . "No, we don't allow that," he smiled.

* In a brief conversation with Special Teams Coordinator James Shibest, he said he was very pleased with the play of the special teams in the opening win over Memphis. "Our number one goal every week is to not give up any big plays. We reached that goal against Memphis, so that is good," Shibest evaluated. "That is so key in terms of how I grade success or failure of the special teams. No big returns by them, no miscues in the kicking game like a blocked kick, no major blunders. From that perspective, we were good in the punting game, in kickoff return, in placements and in punt return - we had a couple of nice punt returns and one could have popped all the way easily. The one area of concern I have is on the kickoff coverage team. We are so young there. Andrew Ritter did a tremendous job in his debut getting us a couple of touchbacks and the ones they did return did not hurt us, but we could see on film we have a couple of issues on that unit we have to get ironed out. The biggest factor will be getting them experience and getting them settled in, but we are aware of the problems and are working on them."

* DE Jason Jones is scheduled for surgery on his right knee (ACL) next Tuesday.

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