Tuesday Practice Report

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt sent his troops through a physical workout Tuesday at the IPF as showers and wet ground forced Ole Miss inside. Read more inside.

It had been a difficult week-plus for the Rebels as they battled flu-like symptoms and illness through the win at Memphis and the remainder of the week.

But they were back in full force from that Tuesday, and Nutt said it was good to have things a little bit normal again.

"It was good to get everybody out here and moving around a little bit," he said. "You could tell we were a little bit out of shape, especially the ones that had been sick. So we've just got to kind of gradually get them going again. Today was a really good start."

Nutt said the conditioning wasn't where he would want it, but he didn't expect it to be there after all they've been through.

"Just breathing hard, not like we were the week before Memphis," he said. "You could tell there's a little bit of some lingering coughing and trying to catch their breath. We were in pretty good shape before we took the field against Memphis. So that's the only disappointing thing, but it couldn't be helped. Your biggest improvement is from game one to game two, if you can keep your conditioning going. That's what's difficult now, because we're kind of starting back over with conditioning. But that's the cards we've been dealt, and they've accepted it. We had a good day today, and we've just got to keep going."

There were no players out with the flu Tuesday. Everybody was back.

Nutt and his assistants sent the troops through a physical practice, with the defense spending a lot of time on tackling. After the bull in the ring session to open, the defense broke straight to tackling drills in several separate areas – goalline tackling, tackling dummies on to the mat, and form tackling.

On special teams, Joshua Shene was 3-for-3 in the field goal department from 33 yards.

Jerrell Powe and Jeremy McGee were running first team Tuesday. Nutt said it's always good to be able to give a lot of guys the opportunity to work with the starting unit.

"We're always mixing and matching a little bit during this time. There's nothing like having that ability to say you can be the first group. Powe's really working hard. We consider him a starter as many plays as he's doing. And McGee with nickels, dimes, everything we're doing, we've got to have everybody have that ability to say, hey, you're in and you don't flinch."

Nutt said McGee has improved in a lot of areas.

"He sees things more clearly. He plays the ball better, like we talked about with Marshay (Green). Recognition. You're in a groove now. You're back-peddling, where offensively, the biggest thing is the head and the eyes. The eyes are trained better to play the ball better. Just awareness, and those type things."

Powe said he knows he has to work to stay there.

"It's a little promotion, but right now, we still don't have a true starter," said Powe. "We're all trying to earn that position. (Defensive line) coach (Terry) Price bumped me up to the ones, but it's definitely not something to get comfortable with. We don't really have any starters, so anybody can be promoted or demoted on any day."

Random Notes

*** Nutt said DT Justin Smith's recovery from a broken bone in his foot is coming along but not as fast as he'd hoped.

"Not fast enough for me. I was hoping he'd be ready to go today," Nutt said, mentioning he was hoping to get him back for the South Carolina game. "The doctors say he's still on schedule."

Nutt said, however, it may be the Vanderbilt game before Smith returns to action.

*** Nutt said TE Gerald Harris continues to be hampered by a hamstring injury.

"It's a lingering deal," he said. "He reinjured it in the Memphis game, and it turned black and blue, the hamstring did. Just tough. He can't push off, and that's one guy that wants on the field."

Nutt said he is hopeful of having Harris back for South Carolina, but he would not play this weekend.

*** As for Greg Hardy, Nutt said his ankle recovery is coming along but he's not there yet.

"It will be hard for him to play Saturday," he said. "I hope not (that it's a lingering situation). It's still swollen."

*** While the initial staff reactions to sophomore Bradley Sowell's debut at left tackle were up-and-down, it appears the 6-foot-7, 310-pounder graded out better than expected upon review of the game film. Offensive line coach Mike Markuson said while he still needs improvement in pass protection, that Sowell showed some good signs.

"He did some good things in the run game and protection-wise," Markuson said. "What the outside world looks at is when they get beat on a pass rush, but a lot of guys get beat on a pass rush. He's getting better. He had like eight knockdowns and graded out well in the run game. Can he get better in pass protection? No question."

"Bradley really graded pretty good," Nutt added. "In the run game, he was really good. But in the pass game, not as good. But for the first time out, not bad. He was a little bit nervous. I thought he got in the groove there a little bit. He's only going to get better."

*** Nutt said senior RG Brandon Green graded out well, also.

"He got overmatched a little bit in there with some size, like in the goalline and we moved Rishaw (Johnson) in the goalline," he said. "But he's really a fighter. A competitor, and I like that. He graded out good, and he had six knockdowns."

*** Nutt said Johnny Brown is still feeling the lingering effects from the flu.

"Still coughing. Gives us a speed guy back there that will tackle and is physical," he said. "He led our team in tackles. But he's still coughing pretty good, I could tell."

Brown said he was "hustling to the ball" anyway, even though he felt badly that day.

"I've bounced back," said Brown, who was actually sick during the Memphis game and still had 15 tackles.

Brown said he has tried to improve in a lot of areas this summer and fall.

"Especially my agility," he said. "That helps me break on the ball better."


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