Tuesday Practice Report

Like the proverbial broken record, it's raining in Oxford and the Ole Miss Rebels were forced inside for Tuesday's full-pad practice. Read about it inside.

Many in Lafayette County and surrounding areas are wondering if it is ever going to stop raining.

The answer is 'yes,' but not Tuesday.

The 3-2 Rebels were, for the 479th straight day - it seems, forced to work out in the Indoor Practice Facility as game week preparations for Saturday's match with UAB began with a full-pad practice.

"It feels good to get back on the field and get back to work, but before I talk about practice, I just want to tell our fans one more time how much we appreciated the atmosphere of the Alabama game. I did not get to tell them the way I wanted to because I was expecting a win and was hurting after the game," said Coach Houston Nutt. "Our fans did a great job. I know they are hurting about the loss, but we are hurting times ten, times ten.

"The guys came out here and worked hard today and we are going to get better."

Freshman Raymond Cotton is simulating UAB's dynamic QB Joe Webb in practice.

"Raymond is doing very, very well on the scout team," Houston continued. "The kid from UAB is 6-5, 225 and has a lot of confidence and experience, but Raymond is giving us a good look. His fundamental work is excellent and I can't wait to watch the film of today's practice to get a closer look at how he's progressing."

Nutt was asked about the blog QB Jevan Snead is doing for The Sporting News.

"I have not read it, but I'd rather he leave that kind of stuff alone. All I know is that he is hurting and he wants to win and his feelings are getting in the way a little bit," Nutt said. "We'll work it out."

Jevan looked surprised with the questions referring to his blog.

"All that stuff is crazy. I was just trying to get out there that you can't believe everything you hear and everything in my personal life is going just fine," said Snead. "There's no truth to anything that is going around - at all.

"I had no intention of calling out our fans or anything. What I was trying to say is that we know the fans are hurting, but we are hurting too, with them. We are all in this together. I love our fans and the support they give us. I just want them to know we are hurting and this is not the way we want our season to go and there is a lot of season left so hang in there with us."

Snead said the Rebel offense is going back to basics this week.

"We are working on throwing, catching, running and blocking and making sure we know our gameplan perfectly," Snead noted. "We have to execute as well as we can.

"I already knew what I was doing wrong against Alabama in most cases. I was rushing things a little bit and leaning my body, which was causing my throws to be off and not have a lot on them at times. We are working hard to find our rhythm and to click like we did last year. We want to see our offense take off this week and build from there."

Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix is concerned first and foremost with Webb, the multi-talented UAB signal-caller.

"He's a big time talent. He's a weapon who is an SEC caliber player," said Nix. "He can run it and he has a big time arm, but he chooses to run more than pass. Some of that is by design with the option or the draw and some of it is him sprinting out and having the option to run or throw. They like to give him a choice.

"It's a real challenge to defend a guy like him because we have to be disciplined and keep him in the box, but schematically, they like to run him inside too. It's a challenge inside and out. All our guys have to be on the same page and understand our responsibility of where we are trying to force the ball."

If Green can't go, Nix said he is not committing to playing freshman Charles Sawyer yet.

"We are preparing him to play, but I think there would still have to be another injury or two before we do (take his redshirt off)," Nix noted.

Tyrone said he doesn't have any fear of a defensive letdown after investing so much energy and emotion in the Alabama game.

"I think our kids are smart enough to realize that what we do to prepare in practice is what gives them a chance to be successful on Saturday," he explained. "If we put in the work and commitment, there is no way they can go out there on Saturday and not give it up because they have worked too hard to get ready. Why blow that opportunity?"

Random Notes:

* Senior Cornerback Marshay Green has a fractured rib and a bruised/lacerated kidney to show for the Alabama game, but who was on the front row of the stretch period of practice, dressed in full pads and eager to get going? Marshay. Obviously, he was limited in what the trainers would allow him to do. Certainly that included no contact, but he was right in the middle of all drills encouraging his teammates and doing what little he could. It has not been completely ruled out he will be healthy by Saturday. "I don't look for him to play, but you never know with Marshay," said Nutt. "They cleared him to come out here and do fundamentals and move around a little bit."

* Starting Right Guard Rishaw Johnson has to serve a two-game suspension this year for a violation of team rules that happened back in the summer. He has since been on the straight and narrow and had earned back his starting slot he gained last spring training, but the UAB game is one that has been chosen for him to sit out. In his absence, it appears the coaches are going to go with Brandon Green, who started the Memphis game in Rishaw's place. A.J. Hawkins is also being given a look.

* Amidst the hundreds of rumors circulating about the Rebels, it's been stated freshman RT Bobby Massie has gone home to Virginia. It's true, but not to quit the team. He is attending his Grandmother's funeral and is expected back late tonight. Prayers to big Bobby and the Massie clan. With Massie gone for the day, JUCO transfer Logan Clair, who is scheduled to redshirt this year, worked with the number two OL at RT.

* TB Enrique Davis, who injured his ankle in the Alabama game, was in a walking boot Tuesday. No word on when he will be back, but his injury has been described as a high ankle injury, which takes longer to heal than the garden variety ankle sprain. "I look for Enrique to be out two weeks," Nutt stated. In his absence, freshman Rodney Scott has been getting more reps in the running back rotation behind Brandon Bolden and Cordera Eason. "He's looked good getting some extra reps, we have some high hopes for Rodney in the near future," Houston said.

* Fullback Andy Hartmann must be back in the fold full speed now after missing a couple of games with a knee injury and playing sparingly against Alabama. He has resumed his duties as the number one fullback and as the personal protector for the punt team.

* PK Justin Sparks, who dislocated his kneecap two weeks ago, is still hobbling around, but the word is he's "much better" and might be able to regain his holding duties as early as the Arkansas game.

* There has been a lot of speculation about whether or not sophomore DT Justin Smith will play or redshirt now that he's back at practice after rehabbing a broken foot. The scoop is that if the four DTs in the rotation continue performing well and remain healthy, Justin will get a redshirt. If not, he will be activated.

* With Marshay out, the coaches are juggling with a decision on who to use returning punts - Dexter McCluster, who had a return against Alabama that ended in a fumble, or Jesse Grandy, who got his taste in the return game bringing back kickoffs, and doing a good job, against the Tide. Jesse has been fielding punts all year in practice, but his comfort level with punts has not been as solid as his ballhandling on kickoffs. We'll see.

* Freshman Alex Williams has been a little dejected since breaking his leg in an August scrimmage, but he's getting some spring back in his step now. Signed as a defensive end, Alex will be moved to OLB upon his return, most likely in spring training or maybe bowl practice, if that comes about. Alex dropped down to 204 pounds during his rehab but since he has been released to return to the weight room, he has gained 12 pounds and is shooting for 225 before Christmas. Alex is not allowed to run yet except in the pool, but he's lifting and doing everything else in order to work his way back into shape.

* Something that has been overlooked a little in postgame write-ups of the Alabama game was that DT Ted Laurent started the game ahead of Jerrell Powe, who has been the starter since the Memphis game. "Powe is not doing anything wrong, but Teddy has upped his game," said DL Coach Terry Price. "I'm pleased with both of them, but for now Ted has earned the start."


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