Thursday Practice Report

The countdown for the Ole Miss-Alabama game continues. The enthusiasm for the game is building, and it's obvious from the Rebels' head coach.

"Here we go," said Houston Nutt. "We're 48 hours prior to the big game."

Indeed it is. The CBS broadcast crew was at practice today, and an ESPNU crew is on campus as well.

The Rebels worked out on Hollingsworth Field in shorts and shirts, their usual Thursday attire.

"We did a lot of kicking, defense, special situations," Nutt said.

The weather was beautiful for the session, but the forecast isn't too sunny between now and Saturday's 2:30 p.m. kickoff. Rain is supposed to clear out by gametime, but Nutt said there's no way at this point to judge how much of a factor that will be.

"It depends on how hard it's raining," he said. "We're practiced in the rain. We've had wet ball drills. That's just a part of it."

Nutt updated on some injured players.

"Gerald Harris is ready to go. He's going to give us some plays. Andy Hartmann's going to give us some plays, but we don't know how many. D.T. (Shackelford) will give us some plays, and again we don't know how many. But at least we're starting to get those guys back."

Nutt said Justin Smith is getting closer to being ready but won't likely see time this weekend.

"But it's encouraging seeing him out there, and it's encouraging seeing him going through drills," he said. "He's getting better. He probably could play, but he's out of shape right now."

Nutt said the depth along the defensive line is a positive for the team and allows for a player like Smith to have time to recover.

"That's our strength," he said. "Knock on wood, keep those guys going. That's our strength."

Nutt was asked about the lack of playing time for sophomore running back Enrique Davis. He didn't hesitate in his response.

"You've gotta perform. You've gotta perform when you get your opportunity," he said. "You can't play four backs. Right now with Brandon Bolden, Dexter McCluster, Cordera Eason. When you get in there, you've got to make something happen quick."

Nutt was also asked if Rodney Scott was moving up and into a position to take some of Davis' carries.

"He's going to get an opportunity," Nutt said.

But he also said Davis would have more opportunities to be productive.

"He's been great, been great," Nutt said. "And he'll get his chance again. And when he gets his chance, he's got to go. You've got to hit (the hole). And it hasn't always been blocked up right. Sometimes you've got to BYOB – be your own blocker – and make things happen.

"There've been times he hits it, when it's cleaned up and blocked well, he hits it good," Nutt continued. "But when it's not, this league's too fast. They'll run you down when you studder and pat your feet. You've got to hit it."

Nutt said he'd seen some good things from quarterback Jevan Snead this week.

"The best thing this week was he threw it up in the third row," said Nutt, obviously alluding to the fact that Snead is throwing it away when needed. "He threw it up in the third row. He dumped it to the back. A lot of strong-arm quarterbacks with a lot of confidence always think they can throw it anywhere at anytime. You can't do that in this league. You cannot do it. I think he's gotten much better from last week. I just feel like he's improved. The first two quarters and half (of the third quarter) of the Vanderbilt game were beautiful. And then he fell into that deal and got comfortable and tried to force a couple of balls. But he came back this week with good practices."

Nutt said the entire closed practices this week weren't that significant but hopefully helped.

"I've done it before, and it's really not that big a deal," he said. "But that's the questions I've been getting all over the country. But I don't think they (players) even know it's closed."

The Rebels have had one home game so far, and mid-October is just a few days away. Nutt said it's nice to be playing at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

"It's good to be playing here. We've got three in a row at home. We're going to get all we want now, and that's good."

Nutt said there are no depth chart changes this week. He said the team senses the importance of this game, but he felt the same urgency from them last weekend.

"After the South Carolina game, it's so down, because we expected to win that game," he said. "That hurt. We hadn't lost in a year and a half. So there was a sense of urgency coming back for the very next game at Vanderbilt. There was a total focus, and we got better because of it."

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