Tuesday Practice Report

For the first time in what seems like weeks, the sun came out in Oxford and the Rebels went outside for their Tuesday practice. Read about it inside.

The IPF has been a blessing for the Ole Miss football team, but it's always better for the psyche to practice outside where the games are played in the elements.

For most of the past two or three weeks, rain has forced the Rebels into the confines of the Indoor Practice Facility. Cabin fever was starting to set in, but the weather broke in Oxford and the Rebs practiced outside Tuesday on a bright, breezy day.

"It's good to get back outside. It seems like it's the first time in a while. It's good to get on grass because we will play on grass in Nashville," said Coach Houston Nutt. "The guys moved around pretty good today, but we have to keep getting better tomorrow.

"The IPF is a great facility, but we need to be outside because our games are played outside."

Nutt said in his press conference Monday he would be looking for the offense to gain some rhythm and consistency. Did he see that in practice Tuesday?

"They came out with energy and tried to go through practice with a purpose. Anybody can go through the motions, but they didn't do that. They came out here to get better, and that's how you judge them," Nutt stated. "It's hard to tell about gaining rhythm right now, but they came out here to work hard and accomplished that."

Random Notes:

* Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix has some concerns with the Vandy offense. "They are very well-coached and fundamentally sound, plus they will challenge you in the run game," said Nix about the Dores. "They have the potential to hit you deep at any time with their pass plays. They play a lot of spread with four wides and a tight end or an empty backfield. They do a little bit of everything, but they usually start out running the football. Their quarterback is athletic and has an outstanding arm, but they seem to be a run-first offense. They average about 200 yards a game on the ground.". . . Nix is hoping to see more healing from Shackelford between now and Saturday. "He's very important to us. He's one play away from being a starter and I am excited about him and what I think will be a big-time future," Ty continued. "He has a passion and love for the game that is contagious and people feed off of. I like him."

* Ever since the South Carolina loss, inquiring minds have wanted to know if there will be any changes on the offensive line, even though Coach Houston Nutt stated there would not be in Monday's press conference. Based on what was witnessed at Tuesday's workout, he was true to his word. The same starting five were lined up with the starting offense. "We have our best players out there," Nutt said. "They just have to do a better job of executing and we have to do a better job of coaching them. We all have to do a better job."

* The Rebel staff has taken the redshirt off three more players in the last week or so - namely RBs Rodney Scott and Tim Simon, now out for the season with a knee injury, and Punter Tyler Campbell. Is another on the way to the varsity and playing status? Could be. Safety Frank Crawford has been taken off the scout squad and put in the rotation for a closer look. We'll see.

* Speaking of Campbell, he is still punting with the number one punt team after getting his first career start at South Carolina and averaging 43.4 yards a boot. Apparently the coaches liked what they saw in his debut.

* Tuesday always promises to be one of the more physical practice days of the week, but today the heat was turned up a little more, it seemed, in the early going with the offensive and defensive lines doing what appeared to be extra one-on-one reps at full speed and full contact. Reps can only help.

* DT Justin Smith, on the early leg of the comeback trail after breaking a foot in August, was at practice today but was not dressed out. He was doing short sprint work with the trainers trying to get the strength and explosiveness back in his foot/leg. "When he gets back out here, he's going to have to start over - in a way - fundamentally, but he knows what we do defensively. He will start with the little things and work from there, but I feel he's a guy who can help us," said Nix. The Rebs hope to get him back at practice next week, fingers crossed.

* DE/OLB Alex Williams, who broke his leg in August, was also at practice but not dressed out. Alex is out of his cast and walking boot and is starting to do some light exercises to regain his strength as well.

* It was reported in Nutt's Monday press conference that MLB D.T. Shackelford and OLB Lamar Brumfield both had foot/ankle injuries and would have a hard time playing against Vandy. Both were dressed out and practicing Tuesday in a limited capacity. Brumfield did not seem to be favoring his nicked foot much, but Shackelford seemed more hobbled at this stage of the week. "I'm going to be fine," said Lamar. "I will play against Vanderbilt." D.T. was not as optimistic. "I am day-to-day. I hope I am better tomorrow, I feel I will be. We will see how I progress this week," said the freshman MLB. . . "They are still struggling some, but they want to be out here badly and you have to love that attitude," said Nutt. "D.T. has been awesome, Lamar too. D.T. can't stand to be hurt. Every play Tyrone calls, D.T. is right there next to him learning. Most guys would be by the water cooler or talking to a buddy about girls. He's into it every snap - you have to love that. D.T. does not act like a freshman and he has an energy level that others respond to. He pumps everyone up. And it's natural - not counterfeit. His high school coach said all along D.T. had it and he was right. We noticed it this summer, but we are also seeing carryover in the fall."

* From the good news department, senior TE Gerald Harris was running with the first team offense, at least in the portion of practice the media is allowed to watch, and seemed as good as new in the drills we witnessed. Gerald has not played since a few snaps in the Memphis game while mending from a torn hamstring. Hopefully, he's back in the fold now. "Gerald is doing good and it's good to see him back in the huddle," Nutt noted. "We're a tight-end oriented team. He sets the edge for us, he's a big-time blocker and play-action guy who is good when full speed. He just gives us an extra option. Ferbia Allen has done a great job and has really come on, but it's great to have that senior back."

* FB Andy Hartmann had aspirations of returning for the Vanderbilt game from a strained MCL in the SELA contest, but it does not look like that is going to happen. Andy was not at practice Tuesday in any capacity, opting to spend his time rehabbing the knee instead.

* RB Tim Simon had surgery today on his knee but Nutt had no update how the procedure went at this time. "It was a severe knee injury, but we hope it's not career-ending. It was very delicate surgery, from what I understand," Houston said. "I just want to get him well."


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