Tuesday Practice Report

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt has seen a difference in the intensity level as the first SEC game of the 2009 season approaches for his number 4-ranked Rebels. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt said after Tuesday's practice - which, as a reminder of the Thursday time slot for the game against South Carlina is actually like a normal Thursday practice - that he hasn't had to preach much to the team about raising their games to a different, higher level.

"We've got 22 seniors who have been through this before. They have to take ownership of the intensity level of the team, and they have. The guys have been more intense since Sunday. You could tell it's conference time. I expected that reaction from them because they have been there before and they know, they know," Nutt said. "The seniors get it going and the rest of us ride their coattails."

The Rebels were intense, but loose in Tuesday's workout, held in the stadium with the Rebs donning shorts and helmets.

"You can't be tight, you gotta stay loose," Nutt stated. "We had a very focused practice today. Even as short of a week for preparation as it's been, we got the gameplan in and now it's time to play. We have one more rehearsal practice tomorrow before we get on that plane to go."

Random Notes:

* Everyone on the offensive side of the ball is very cognizant of the presence of USC do-it-all performer Eric Norwood. "He's a great player. You can bet we are going to know where he is at all times," said Nutt. "They put him at end, MLB, OLB, tackle - we have to account for him all the time. At times we will have to put four hands on him, but other times our guys have to do a great job with him one-on-one. He's so quick and explosive, you better be aware of him."

* The special teams' lapses from last Saturday were not wanted, obviously, but they may have been a blessing in disguise. "We wanted it better than what it was," Houston chuckled. "But it did wake everyone up. It has to be crisp, especially in conference play, and maybe the mistakes got our attention for games to come."

* Nutt officially said TE Gerald Harris (hamstring) will not play against the Gamecocks. Neither will FB Andy Hartmann (knee) or DT Justin Smith (foot), but Justin is out of his cast/boot now and is anxious to get back in shape to start practicing again. DE Greg Hardy practiced again Tuesday. "It's hard to say where he is, percentage-wise. I know he's not 100%, but I can't put a number on where he is really," Nutt closed.

* Freshman Alex Williams, who broke his leg back in August, is out of his cast/walking boot, but he still has nearly a month of rehab before he will return to practice. Alex will be moved, we were told, to outside linebacker from defensive end when he makes his return.

* There were no apparent depth chart changes from Monday's practice during the time allotted for the media to watch practice, but frosh RB Rodney Scott may be on the back burner for some action this week. He has been working some with the varsity in practice while his fellow frosh RBs have been with the scout team. That is usually a sign a player is close to getting some PT. We'll see.

* Nutt has been praising his freshman class since they reported to campus, but he knows their talent is not enough to make them excel. Their key to the future is development. In that arena, so far, so good. It's also been boasted quite freely by members of the coaching staff, including the strength and conditioning staff, that the work ethic of the freshman class is very good and results are already being seen in their development. As was reported a couple of weeks ago, the freshmen who are playing in games work out in the weight room three times a week while the guys redshirting lift and work out four times a week. Varsity members work out two times a week in comparison. Some apparently entered the program with college level strength. For instance, Scott - at 199 pounds - bench pressed 320 pounds three times last week. That's some pretty high cotton. It's also been stated WR Patrick Patterson is as strong as any of the varsity wideouts already. From all accounts, the freshman class from top to bottom has no issues in wanting to get better and doing the work required to do so.


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