Up Next: SEC Play

The mood actually seemed lighter, but the intensity was turned up in the Monday press conferences - if both can be possible at the same time.

It's the opening game of Southeastern Conference play for No. 4 Ole Miss, and the Rebels have a short time to get ready. So what is usually a normal Monday was anything but.

The work week preparing for a tough South Carolina team on the road Thursday night before a national TV audience via ESPN began in earnest Sunday morning.

Actually it began much earlier than that.

"We always do a summer scouting report on the first three conference games," said Coach Houston Nutt in his Monday remarks.

That being the case, they took a look during the summer at South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Alabama, the Rebs' first SEC foes of 2009.

Monday Night Lights

Ole Miss will practice tonight instead of this afternoon. Yet another twist and turn in an eventful, short week.

"We got started back to work Sunday," Nutt said. "Quick turnaround. I thought our guys came out and gave us a good practice. Our preparation started out very well.

"We need another good one today. We'll practice tonight. Today was a day full of labs and a big school day. We're normally off on Monday. We changed our schedule around a little bit because we're obviously playing on Thursday night. So we need another good practice."

In The Training Room

"Guys have been in the training room," Nutt said. "With the exception of Gerald Harris and Justin Smith, everybody else is trying to get mended up."

Nutt said Harris likely won't play this week.

"We'll know by Wednesday," he said. "But it's doubtful."

Nutt said he believes Greg Hardy will play.

Nothing Could Be Finer

The Rebels want to be back in Oxford in the wee hours of Friday morning from Carolina with a victory. Not anything at this point would be better for a team projected to do big things this season.

The next game is at Vanderbilt, a 6 p.m. start in Nashville on Saturday, Oct. 3. Playing this Thursday night means a lot of positives among the potential negatives for the Rebels.

"It's good because of the exposure for your team and for recruiting," Nutt said. "It's hard to say no to our conference and ESPN when they ask you to do this. It's really a big-time gift they're giving you. There are some sacrifices involved. If you ask Coach (Steve) Spurrier or any coach, they'd say they wish they had a little bit more time (to prepare). The bottom line is you don't, and so you've got to take what you have and do the best you can and get ready to go."

Get Out Of The Way

Marshay Green muffed a couple of punts against SLU Saturday night in the Rebels' 52-6 win. Nutt said it wasn't all Green's fault.

"Our two gunners have to do a better job of giving them a chance to catch the ball," he said. "If you remember, there was a lot of traffic. Too many guys around them. Gotta give our guys a chance. A left-footed punter was different. It creates a different spin. We don't have a left-footed punter (to simulate that). Everybody has to get better, not just Marshay."

Green actually hauled in two Lions' punts but for only minus-5 total yards. So improving that area of the team is one goal for this week.

A Better Ferbia

Nutt said Ferbia Allen continues to improve as he works more at the tight end position.

The redshirt freshman from Pine Bluff, Ark., had three receptions for 29 yards against Southeastern Louisiana.

"He's getting a lot better. Ferbia is gaining more confidence. He's working extra. His blocking is better. Hopefully we'll be able to get him a few more balls each time we play. He's come a long way. He was also one of the sickest guys we had (with the flu). He's lost about 12 to 14 pounds. So we're trying to get him back as far as his weight."

The Ole Ball Coach

Steve Spurrier, except for his short stay in the NFL, has been a head coach in the SEC since 1990. Nutt said he's watched with amazement at what the Florida grad has done.

"He's a coach I've always admired. Offensively, just something as simple as handing the ball to the tailback, then the tailback hands it back to the quarterback who throws the deep ball - I remembering see that many times in highlight films everywhere. Great receivers. Athletes.

"And when you win a national championship, it speaks volumes. As hard as this league is, even with all the great athletes, it's not easy. Mostly when you think of Steve Spurrier you think of quarterbacks and receivers and the excitement they've brought to the table."

Prime-Time Thursday

Jevan Snead said he wasn't looking at Thursday night as a chance for him to improve his own national stock. He said it's all about winning the game.

"It's a chance for us to prove ourselves," the junior signal-caller said. "I'm really not looking at it like that (as any individual stage). I'd love to do extremely well, and I work as hard as I can for the team. All I'm focused on is helping my team. Anything more is icing on the cake."

Snead said the short week is challenging as far as preparation, but the team is responding.

"It's a little tougher losing those couple of days to prepare. Fortunately the coaching staff with (offensive coordinator) Coach Austin have done a great job preparing us. I've never had to prepare this quickly. It's new to me, but I feel we will be OK."

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