Tuesday Practice Report

As has been the case for most of the past month, rainy weather forced the Rebels off teh practice fields. No problem, that's what the IPF and artificial turf in teh stadium is for. Tuesday, in full pads, the Rebs were in the stadium. Read about Tuesday's workout inside.

It's easy to tell it's Bama week around the football complex.

The "security" surrounding the Ole Miss Rebel football team has been tightened up and access is not as open. The media normally is allowed to watch the first four periods of practice in order to check on injuries, depth chart changes and the mood of the team.

Not this week.

Ole Miss Coach Houston Nutt wants to send a message, a message that was received in a full-pad practice in Tuesday's practice on the stadium carpet.

"I just wanted to send a message to our players," Nutt shrugged off the closed practice edict. "I told them I wanted to see more intensity while we were out there by ourselves and I wanted their full focus and attention. It's not like we haven't been getting that already, but it's good sometimes to send a stronger message. Hey, turn it up a little bit.

"They responded. It was a very intense practice and a lot of good things were accomplished. I might let ya'll (the media) back out there tomorrow, but I wanted to get their attention today."

Nutt had good news about some of the injured.

"D.T. (Shackelford) looked very good today and he said he felt fine. He'll probably play. (DT) Justin Smith dressed out in pads and made it through the whole practice. That's awesome," Houston said. "Gerald Harris is doing great. (FB) Andy Hartmann wasn't in pads, but he ran around a lot out there today and gave me some encouragement that he might be at practice tomorrow. We'll see.

"We are going to need all hands on board for this game. They are pretty good."

Nutt said the emphasis for the offense is to finish.

"Nobody has blocked Alabama, really, this year," said Nutt. "We have to sustain our blocks and stay on them. And like I said in the press conference yesterday, we can't hurt ourselves. A holding call, an illegal procedure, a ball on the ground - anything can change this game in their favor and give them momentum. You cannot have self-inflicted wounds against a team as good as Alabama.

"Those are the two main areas we are stressing. Certainly, there are a lot of other things we are working on, but those are big keys in our minds."

Nutt also announced freshman DE Craig Drummond has left school.

"He's gone back home to resolve some personal issues. We are going to try to help him, maybe help him find a home in a JUCO somewhere and then get him back at a later time," Nutt stated.

The understanding is that with Craig leaving now, the team APR will only take a one-point hit instead of two points, which are very difficult to overcome. As you are aware, the Rebels will lose three initial scholarships this coming signing period due to a low APR. Nutt and company are trying hard to right that wayward ship.

Shackelford was depressed last week after practices because of not being able to work out with his team, but the freshman MLB was all smiles after today's work.

"I feel a lot better. I was able to run around and get involved more. It is a bad feeling to sit out there and watch while your teammates are playing," he said. "I am very thankful for that.

"Overall, I had a good day, even though the ankle started to stiffen up some at the end."

D.T. is from Decatur, AL. Normally, you would think that the Ole Miss-Alabama game would have a little more significance for him. He does not see it that way.

"Of course, my family is making a lot of this game, but I'm not in terms of being from there or anything," D.T. noted. "This is a big game, no matter how you slice it. Being from there does not make it any bigger.

"I am taking the same approach with this game like I do every game, like it's my last one ever. This one means a lot, but not because I'm from Alabama. It means a lot because they are a team we have to beat to win a title."

Shackelford does know one major player on Alabama's team - LB Rolando McClain.

"We played against each other in high school - he grew up with my brother," D.T. noted. "Other than him, I don't know any other Tide players.

"All I know is that we want to prepare and give them our best shot."

Offensive Coordinator Kent Austin has been watching hours and hours of film of the Alabama defense. He has come to one conclusion.

"They do everything well," he said. "They don't have a weakness. They are big, strong, fast, great tacklers and they are fundamentally very, very sound. They always keep their outside shoulder free, they don't get out of position and they don't give up gaps. They cover very well in the secondary and they have strong DBs who are hard to shake.

"We have to get every single yard we can get and we can't make a single mistake. We have to fit a gameplan to what we think their tendencies are, but even that is difficult because their tendencies are hard to pinpoint. They do so much and do it well. Coach (Nick) Saban mixes things up and gives you a lot more to prepare for, especially on third-and-long. We definitely have to stay out of third-and-long situations. Overall, they are just very good and we will have to bring our best to the field Saturday."

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